Fresh Complaint

Fresh Complaint


Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
This collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national crises. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people's wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art collapse under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in "Bronze," a sexually confused college freshman whose encounter with a stranger on a train leads to a revelation about his past and his future.
Publisher: Toronto :, Alfred A. Knopf Canada,, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780307401892
Branch Call Number: FIC Eugen
Characteristics: 285 pages


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 20, 2018

A very solid collection of short stories. Jeffrey Eugenides is well known for his Pulitzer prize winning novels that he produces once a decade, but this is his first published collection of short stories. Most are older and previously published, while two are brand new. As a little experiment, I read the stories as they were written chronologically.

I found his oldest story in the collection -- Capricious Gardens -- to be a nice noodling of literature, but ultimately a story that wasn't entirely sure what it was or where it was going. However, after that, it was challenging for any of the prior stories to stand out in terms of an Eugenides' era. The two short stories written for this publication -- Fresh Complaint and the Complainers -- did stand out, in that they were more fully fleshed out as stories themselves, almost like the attendant radio hit a pop band puts on their greatest hits. This isn't criticism or praise, just a commentary the two new ones feel different and more expertly polished. I really enjoyed Complainers.

The rest: Baster, Air Mail, Timeshare, Early Music, Oracular Vulva, Find the Bad Guy, and the Great Experiment are worth the read.

Personally, I liked the Great Experiment the most, because the national religion of capitalism confronted with the tenants of Tocqueville's impressions of American democracy are especially well suited to contemporary times.
Find the Bad Guy is a timeless tale of a person who just doesn't get it and a spiraling relationship.
Air Mail is probably the most adventurous writing in the collection.
Timeshare, Baster, the Oracular Vulva and Early Music share a self-indulgent male protagonist who is all too repressed about failing to become what he thought he would. The writing and the stories are fascinating enough to let the "woe is me" component inherent in all to slip from your mind and simply enjoy the capacity of Eugenides as a writer.

TSCPL_ChrisB Nov 23, 2017

I have a complaint: Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't write enough.

Eugenides's first novel was published in 1993. Since then he's written two more novels and this, Fresh Complaint, his collection of short stories. There have been exactly nine years between each novel. So I was excited when, after reading his third novel in 2011, I read in an interview with Eugenides where he said he would not take the normal nine years to publish his next work (I tried to find that article, but was unable to do so). So it only took six years, but if this is the product of six years I am sorely disappointed and genuinely hope that it is not another nine years before the next novel.

That's not to say Fresh Complaint is a bad book. It isn't. There are some good stories in this collection. Also, there are some forgettable stories. The culmination of these creates just another “good” story collection. And being merely another “good” collection in an industry where there are many similar “good” collections means Fresh Complaint fails to stand out.

What's interesting about the stories in this collection is that they run the length of Eugenides' writing career, from 1988 to the present. I continually looked for growth or distinction between the stories from different eras, but what I discovered is that Eugenides is a consistent writer. His oldest works hold up to his newest. This is a huge compliment. All these are strong in character, language, and dialogue. He constructs such vivid and realistic stories. Strong, vivid, and realistic—these stories are not necessarily achingly beautiful, they do not transcend what we've come to expect from the short story. In fact, they're pretty average amongst the award-winning short story writers of the last century. Average isn't bad at all, but it's not great. Still, Fresh Complaint gave me a sampling of one of my favorite contemporary authors. Fingers are crossed that it's only three or four years until his next novel, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet.

Personal favorites: “Fresh Complaint,” “Early Music,” and “Great Experiment.”

Oct 13, 2017

A fine collection of stories, some of which relate to the author's longer works and those of others. ("Complainers", for example, is about two fans of "Two Old Women" and should not be missed by anyone who enjoyed that book.) The stories are all poignant and humorous to varying degrees, and I enjoyed every one of them.

Note: the Summary for this book mentions a story called "Bronze" which is not actually included.

Vero_biblio Oct 11, 2017

Short stories : what a nice way to enjoy some of Jeffrey Eugenides' comical/bittersweet stories of American life! I enjoyed the stories tremendously, except only one, which I skipped after a few pages. No crime in that! Enjoy. And make sure you also read his Pulitzer winner novel, 'Middlesex'.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top