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You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction

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The stories in You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction dramatize the spirit of Buddhism, often with wit, always with verve, and each in some distinctly vivid way. Only a few of these stories touch on the Dharma explicitly and this book takes you on an inward tour across the whole world-to the jungles of Indonesia, a fog-shrouded park in San Francisco, the sun- The stories in You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction dramatize the spirit of Buddhism, often with wit, always with verve, and each in some distinctly vivid way. Only a few of these stories touch on the Dharma explicitly and this book takes you on an inward tour across the whole world-to the jungles of Indonesia, a fog-shrouded park in San Francisco, the sun-blistered African veldt, a Burmese monastery surrounded by gun-fire, and the church-like sanctuary of a Nebraska barn, just to name a few. Collectively these stories paint a living portrait of the face of Buddhism, and readers may discover that that face is a strangely familiar one-and that every journey only ever leads home. Edited by Keith Kachtick--the author of Hungry Ghost: A Novel (A New York Times Notable Book),You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction--offers more surprising and transcendent work from some of fiction's famous names, alongside that of names you've never heard before--but surely will again: Lama Surya Das, Keith Kachtick, Robert Olen Butler, Kate Wheeler, Anne Donovan, Samantha Schoech, Mary Yukari Waters, Andrew Foster Altschul, Jess Row, Anh Chi Pham, Sean Murphy, Pico Iyer, Dan Zigmond, Michele Martin, Sean Hoade, Jeff Davis, Jake Lorfing, Geshe Michael Roach, Anne Carolyn Klein, Dean Sluyter, Mark Salzman, and Hal Hallstein.


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The stories in You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction dramatize the spirit of Buddhism, often with wit, always with verve, and each in some distinctly vivid way. Only a few of these stories touch on the Dharma explicitly and this book takes you on an inward tour across the whole world-to the jungles of Indonesia, a fog-shrouded park in San Francisco, the sun- The stories in You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction dramatize the spirit of Buddhism, often with wit, always with verve, and each in some distinctly vivid way. Only a few of these stories touch on the Dharma explicitly and this book takes you on an inward tour across the whole world-to the jungles of Indonesia, a fog-shrouded park in San Francisco, the sun-blistered African veldt, a Burmese monastery surrounded by gun-fire, and the church-like sanctuary of a Nebraska barn, just to name a few. Collectively these stories paint a living portrait of the face of Buddhism, and readers may discover that that face is a strangely familiar one-and that every journey only ever leads home. Edited by Keith Kachtick--the author of Hungry Ghost: A Novel (A New York Times Notable Book),You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction--offers more surprising and transcendent work from some of fiction's famous names, alongside that of names you've never heard before--but surely will again: Lama Surya Das, Keith Kachtick, Robert Olen Butler, Kate Wheeler, Anne Donovan, Samantha Schoech, Mary Yukari Waters, Andrew Foster Altschul, Jess Row, Anh Chi Pham, Sean Murphy, Pico Iyer, Dan Zigmond, Michele Martin, Sean Hoade, Jeff Davis, Jake Lorfing, Geshe Michael Roach, Anne Carolyn Klein, Dean Sluyter, Mark Salzman, and Hal Hallstein.

30 review for You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Rosenfeld

    Buddhist literature is a growing category and this is a good addition. Worth a read if the genre appeals.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    The radical notion of collecting Buddhist fiction presents a sort of koan: Is fiction the dharma? Is the dharma fiction? The stories in You Are Not Here, like most anthologies, are hit or miss. The hits are very good, and even the misses offer fine writing and a valuable response to the koan. The first story, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler, concerns an elderly man from Vietnam now living in the US where his children and grandchildren have grown up. His family is still The radical notion of collecting Buddhist fiction presents a sort of koan: Is fiction the dharma? Is the dharma fiction? The stories in You Are Not Here, like most anthologies, are hit or miss. The hits are very good, and even the misses offer fine writing and a valuable response to the koan. The first story, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler, concerns an elderly man from Vietnam now living in the US where his children and grandchildren have grown up. His family is still actively anticommunist, but he is being visited by the ghost of his old friend, Ho Chi Minh. There are direct Buddhist references in the narrative, but more importantly the story evokes the contemplative aesthetic. Butler uses the sensation of smell, a sense that develops pre-language, in a narrative that exists only as language, mimeticly demonstrating the contemplative experience. Consciousness is not a thing but a process of experiencing. By describing the memory of smells in a kitchen, the fictive quality of the old man’s consciousness is highlighted. He smells sugar but it is a scent that has been gone for decade, it is a scent that is not there. By describing the smell as having “nothing to do with flowers”, the fictive quality of the reader’s consciousness is highlighted. What a reader, so moved by the story, actually smells is the process of consciousness, a scent that is not there. Any story could be read with a contemplative interpretation, especially within the context of this anthology, but other readings are also possible. Ringworm by Kate Wheeler is explicitly Buddhist and almost entirely set in a Burmese monastery. The writer created a plot emblematic of capitalist realism and a narrator mired in its ideology. As this Guardian article points out, Western-style Buddhism’s palliative qualities might actually allow the suffering of modern life to continue. This approach sidesteps the destructive aspect of the Four Noble Truths, essential to the Buddha’s first teachings. At the conclusion of Ringworm the narrator has left the monastery and is having dinner with her father. Of course, the wine and the dinner with the father are emblematic of Christianity but also of capitalism. The wine is French wine. The father is Republican. The narrator has returned from her exotic quest in strange lands to live in the heart of the empire, the real world, a world that is both unacceptable and necessary. As Mark Fisher would describe, the means by which the dinner restructures of her social reality back into her father’s world is contingent on the cynical distance provided by her contemplative attitude that enables the ideology of capitalism to function. Her experiences in the monastery have made her the ultimate cynic, allowing her to simultaneously disavow and consume. www.jasonfmcdaniel.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin Keller

    As a person who really likes short stories, I was surprised by how little I cared for these. Just did nothing for me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Great short stories with and underlying or overt Buddhist theme.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    Thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of the 20 short stories. Would recommend :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Friedman

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pleurothallix

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  13. 4 out of 5

    Renée

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian Rothbart

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

  16. 5 out of 5

    Houston Wood

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shyam

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alycia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bull

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lori

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brent

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karl Nehring

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  25. 4 out of 5

    Niheala Reeves

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ray

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edward Newton

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim Weems

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