My advice would be to skip the first four stories (and especially the first), which simply aren't on par with the rest of the collection. Those four stories (with the possible slight exception of the second, "The Track of the Assassins") aren't much distinguished from the sort of clunky, obvious efforts you'd see in an average literary journal, and they don't do anything to support the idea (which you often hear advanced) that Shepard is one of the best short story writers working today. I can't say I'm super crazy about the rest of the collection, but the last 7 stories are all more than worth reading, and "Your Fate Hurtles Down at You" and "Boys Town" are really, really good. Shepard is an amazing line-by-line writer, there's no waste or laziness in his best stories, and "Poland Is Watching" (about a group of Polish mountaineers winter-climbing in the Himalayas) is probably the best example of what I mean. What he does visually and aurally with that environment is dauntingly impressive. Generally, the stories feel over-researched to me--Shepard lists two entire, numbing pages of background reading in the Acknowledgments--and it's not a stretch to say that he's written the same story over and over through all 11 pieces. Every story documents some extreme state attained (consciously or unconsciously) by the main character, always at the cost of love and community, usually in the service of some expertise or art. If that story arc (which is probably an analogy to the writer's craft) interests you, you'll be in tune with the collection; if not, you'll be worn down by the inevitable separation, loneliness, extremity, and death.
About This Item
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
|Number of Pages|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
8.00 x 5.25 x 0.63 Inches
My advice would be to ...
Wonderful short storie...
Wonderful short stories, many of which are based on real events. They feature similar protagonists, men suffering from a certain alienation and inability to communicate. It made me feel very sorry for his men, who all seem unsure of their expected roles and behavior. The varying and meticulously researched and detailed settings kept each story engrossing and kept me reading happily.
Get specific details about this product from customers who own it.
Ask a question