‘Your Duck is My Duck’ by Deborah Eisenberg – Stories to Challenge and Stimulate You


‘Your Duck is My Duck’, stories by Deborah Eisenberg, stories  (2018) – 226 pages

Occasionally I want to read something that really challenges me, not something I can too easily follow and figure out. Sometimes I want something more than 2 + 2 = 4. What is 759 x 3287 = ? I don’t know, but it is something substantial.

There are six stories in ‘Your Duck is My Duck’, each story about 30 to 40 pages long. Deborah Eisenberg says she spends about a year writing each story. This is dedication.

The stories are by no means straightforward, but by the end the various strands within each story usually all come together into a meaningful whole.

Entering Eisenberg’s fiction is like diving off a cliff into a freezing lake: you are plunged into a world of confusion, with no one to help you get your bearings and no recourse but to struggle your way to the surface.” – Ruth Franklin

The first three stories in ‘Your Duck is My Duck’ totally captivated me. The fourth and fifth stories did not live up to my expectations after reading the first three, and the sixth and final story was a rebound, quite good. I find this to be a quite typical arrangement of the stories in a first-published collection of stories.

Eisenberg approaches her subjects from different angles that can throw the reader off, but if the reader perseveres, he or she can capture the not-so-simple points that Eisenberg is making.

My favorite story in the collection is ‘Taj Mahal’, the second story. In ‘Taj Mahal’, Emma’s deceased mother was an actress. Emma is having lunch with some of the old fellow actors who worked with her mother. First these old actors discuss a new book of memoirs of their old Hollywood days which has just come out, and they question whether the incidents in the book really occurred or not. Then they reminisce about Emma’s mother studying a script:

She always seemed to believe there was a real person locked away in the words, no matter how inane,” Duncan says. “It was always as if she was rescuing somebody lost there or imprisoned.”

Emma’s mother was a beautiful actress who over time became romantically involved with a few of the other male actors and directors.

She never really got the credit she deserved,” Luther says. “The only thing people ever talked about was how pretty she was.”

When Emma’s mother finally did get married, one of the fellow actors describes the marriage as “Prefab rubble. What but rubble could it ever have been?”

Eisenberg does have a spiky way with words that stay in your mind.

My second favorite story is the first story in ‘Your Duck is My Duck’ which is the title story about a woman who find out that hanging out with a rich and famous couple in their vacation home in summer is not all its cracked up to be. The only other summer guest, a puppeteer, says:

Christa told me you were coming, and I figured you wanted to get your stuff done, or why else would you be here.’

Well, I mean, to relax. “

Yeah? You must have a really unusual relaxation technique going.”

If you are tired of reading stories that are the same old, same old, and you want something that is original and challenging, you might give Deborah Eisenberg a try.


Grade:    B+



2 responses to this post.

  1. Gosh, a whole year to write one short story!

    Liked by 1 person


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