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Gallatin Canyon: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 4, 2006

22 customer reviews

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McGuane returns to the territories of his novels (Some Horses, etc.) in this collection of stories set in Montana, Michigan and Florida. Most of the characters are older, divorced and still looking for attachment but without much hope of love. They are alcoholics (in "Vicious Circle" and "The Refugee"), junkies ("Northcoast"), low-grade ex-cons ("The Cowboy"), embezzlers ("Old Friends"), disconnected fathers ("The Zombie" and "Aliens") and lackluster ordinary men. In the title story, an unnamed smalltimer sets out on a business trip down the winding Gallatin Canyon, Mont., road with his girlfriend, Louise. He conducts his business dealings with phony bluster and indecision, humiliating himself in the eyes of this woman he hopes to marry; things get worse from there. Any attempts these characters make to draw happiness back into their lives backfires clumsily, pushing it further from their grasp. McGuane's sentences still have a playful quality, but the prevailing dreariness ("I wish I could feel something," exclaims Louise) is something other than inspiring. (July 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Thomas McGuane has been praised for his remarkable writing style, emotional depth, and close observations about the American West. This collection, full of edgy wit, irony, and bleak characters, received the same acclaim as his previous works, but critics agree that some stories are better than others. "Miracle Boy" and "The Refugee" are complex and compelling, while "The Zombie" feels like filler. In fact, though reviewers agree that McGuane deserves a wider readership, this collection might not touch a nerve with everyone. "He's thought of as a writer of manly-man reticence in the school of Hemingway," notes the New York Times Book Review, "beautified with dashes of Big Sky coloring" and masculine themes.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (July 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041565
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Dave Trembley on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book McGuane has written in twenty years. The storylines wind through untrod mental terrain even though the landscapes may seem familiar. The writing is elevated to a point that the reader immediately understands that a master craftsman is at work, and not just a storyteller. The closest comparison that comes to mind is Cormac McCarthy, both in style and context (stories about outdoor men hooked on the view yet stranded without love.) And yet, that is not quite fair either because the flavour is distinctly McGuane, rich in verbal wit, and many perceptive insights into the characters he created.

For a long time, I thought all of McGuane's novels could have been called "Something To Be Desired": books about characters who understand that fulfillment is responsibility that comes from desire. This gave his earlier works a kind of Bellow quality. In some respects McGuane never really moved away from this, but his work fell down at times when he tried to vary from what he did best. This new collection of stories, however, hits the nail on the head. The stories are saturated with humour and wisdom-a teenager becomes the family's "miracle boy" when he allegedly revives his grandmother from impending death, a college friend in trouble with the law shows up in Montana looking for help that doesn't quite come, a spiteful daughter ruins her father's failing chances of companionship in his later years, a sailor visits a soothsayer hoping to make sense of a tragedy years before, and so on. McGuane's writing has become more suited to a shorter focus- "Some Horses","The Longest Silence" and perhaps he should stick with it. The result here is highly palatable, a tribute almost to the locales of his earlier stuff without being a photo album. McGuane has this time paid it forward.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on July 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the third collection of stories by author Thomas McGuane and his most recent publication. These ten stories, written in his clear, easy style, look at human beings in trouble, usually trying to regain their humanity, but there is the occasional sarcastic one thrown in., as in the story "North Coast," where two drug dealers are apparently refreshing themselves by climbing the mountains.

Another, "Cowboy," deals with an ex-con who is accepted by an old couple as their ranch hand, and works there peaceably and lawfully until the couple dies, and he finds that the human herd has closed ranks against him. More hopeful are stories like "The Refuge," where the main character sets sail across the Caribbean to try and find a witch-woman who will absolve him of his wasted and unhappy life.

The book also contains one unforgettable (to me) narrative picture of a boy who, out to prove something to himself, skates out onto Lake Eire at night, only to find himself alone in a vast darkness and lost out of sight of land. That story is called "Ice," and the vivid word picture alone is worth the price of the book.

Human beings are not always at their best in McGuane's works, but some of them do try to redeem themselves and learn what it is to be human. McGuane is known primarily as a novelist. He began his career with "The Sporting Club," and continued it through nine novels and a couple of essay collections, along with some short stories.

Because so many of his works take place in the West, McGuane is thought of as a Westerner. He is, in part, since he lives on his ranch in MacLeod, Montana; but he got his start in Wyandotte, Michigan, where he was born, and received a blue-blooded education from Michigan State, Yale and Stanford universities.

Armchair Interview says: This collection maintains his well-deserved reputation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Walter Crabtree on May 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I picked up "Gallatin Canyon' many times and had difficulty keeping it picked up long enough to read completely through its ten short stories. It seemed that there was an earthy substance to what the author had to tell, yet he weighted the stories down with, what for me, were dream like, bland, soul-searching characters for which I was unable to care much about. When I finally finished the book and reflected on what I had read, I found I could summarize the entire short story panoply into; depressed people are unhappy, drunks make bad decisions, character flaws can put people off, etc. Not much new there.
I got a sense of the author's bleeding through his prose for you to see just what a competent and sensitive person he is for whatever endeavor he is telling us about. Occasionally, some parts of his stories were disjointed and lumpy. Some few times the author's attribution was puzzling and I had to reread back several pages or paragraphs to reacquaint or identify a moulding character he left lying out on the writing table too long. I also had some minor problems with the lay of McGuane's syntax. It was all proper and grammatically correct, but seemed to be imbedded with too many concatenating, stacking of conjunctions and prepositions. In "The Refugee", as an avid sailor who has sailed in many parts of the world, I was vested in wanting to have the pleasure of reading about a subject I have loved and know well. Let me assure you McGuane writes with authority about the ocean, boats, man-overboard situations, and sailing; in fact so well that the short story "The Refugee" could serve as an encyclopedia of nautical terms. I just wonder if the reader who was not conversant with nautical nomenclature would give up on the tale. That would be a mistake.
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