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The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind

by David Guterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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447839,959 (3.19)12
Like his novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, for which he received the PEN/Faulkner Award, Guterson's beautifully observed and emotionally piercing short stories are set largely in the Pacific Northwest. In these vast landscapes, hunting, fishing, and sports are the givens of men's lives. With prose that stings like the scent of gunpowder, this is a collection of power.… (more)
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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
There is a a cohesiveness to the ten stories in this collection that make it work together as a whole. Most have a pensive mood, enhanced by the quiet grandeur of the Pacific northwest backdrop, and all are centered around boys and men, boys becoming men and men still holding onto the boy they once were. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This collection of short stories explores relationships – man and wife, boy and girl, father and son, brothers or friends.

I really liked a couple of the stories. Opening Day looks at three generations of men in one family as they go duck hunting on opening day. Narrated by the man who is both son (to Pop) and father (to Sean), it shows how certain wisdom is passed along through shared experiences. The reader also watches the men come to the realization that Pop’s days of hunting are over, that his age and deteriorating health make it impossible to continue. Nothing is said about it, but Pop shows with quiet dignity that he has decided this tradition they’ve shared is in the past.

The last story in the collection is also very good. The Flower Garden shines a light on first love, through the lens of hindsight. There is tenderness and confusion, miscommunication and soul-baring, and, of course, regrets. And American Elm deals with the decisions one man makes on how to live his last days.

I was decidedly uncomfortable with a couple of the stories - Piranhas, in particular, was very disturbing, giving a glimpse of a possible sociopath-in-the-making.

The biggest complaint I had about the stories, however, was the feeling I had that they were not complete. They seemed more like random chapters lifted from a larger work and I felt I was missing something. I have always liked the short story form, so it’s not that these were not novels that bothered me, is was that they seemed unfinished. And that is the reason for my lower rating.
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  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
from the convention; a collection of short stories. With the exception of the first one, which I strongly disliked, the rest are stories of men - hunting, sports, interesting and at time thought provoking. Mostly set in the Pacific Northwest, they range from a teenager's introspection up through an elderly man contemplating his life vs. his friends'. ( )
  nancynova | Dec 30, 2015 |
Short story collection. Stupid. I gave up after reading a few. ( )
  juniperSun | Dec 6, 2014 |
A set of short stories about people, ranging from melancholic to very sad. Despite the not-so-happy atmosphere, I found these stories easy to read and I finished the whole book within one day. The stories flow calmly, nothing is over-dramatised, and I was impressed by the way believable characters are developed within the very few pages each story consists of. Thus, a recommended read if you don't mind sad stories. ( )
  seehuhn | Aug 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guterson, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heesen, MarthaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Robin, Taylor, Travis and Henry
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We were at my sister's house for Christmas Eve, fire in the fireplace, lights on the tree, Christmas carols playing on the stereo.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Like his novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, for which he received the PEN/Faulkner Award, Guterson's beautifully observed and emotionally piercing short stories are set largely in the Pacific Northwest. In these vast landscapes, hunting, fishing, and sports are the givens of men's lives. With prose that stings like the scent of gunpowder, this is a collection of power.

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