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God's Gym: Stories Hardcover – February 9, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (February 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618515259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618515257
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pushing the boundaries of narrative and form, two-time PEN/Faulkner Award–winner Wideman (Hoop Roots, etc.) delivers a sometimes electric and sometimes confounding collection of 10 short stories. In the best of these, such as the heartfelt "Are Dreams Faster Than the Speed of Light," about a dying man, and the racially charged "Fanon," Wideman wields his stream-of-consciousness prose to great effect. Often, however, the clever allusions and deft turns of phrase rise one after the other in an almost Sisyphean struggle toward perfection. For instance, in "What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over in Silence," a full page and a half is devoted to describing a coyote "camouflaged by hovering darkness, by mottled fur, a shadow itself, instantly freezing, sniffing the air" as it roams outside a prison. The language is beautiful, but the detour is so long it stops the story dead. The most frustrating example of this calculated experimentation is "The Silence of Thelonious Monk," which starts with a pistol fight between Verlaine and Rimbaud, shifts into the opening lines of a love story and then heads off into an imagined biography of Monk himself. All of which Wideman pulls off with undeniable virtuosity, but it's precisely this sort of narrative acrobatics that too often robs his stories of their power. The full range of Wideman's talents are on display here, however, and even those stories that don't quite live up to expectations are punctuated by moments of brilliance. (Feb. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Nearly every review of God’s Gym draws the parallel between jazz and Wideman’s writing. Just as our American music encompasses melody and dissonance, ballads and funk, so there are dualities aplenty at work here. Wideman continues to disdain the border between fiction and reality as he draws from well-known biographical facts for his stories. Characters commit violent acts, but only in their imaginations. His imposition as a narrator annoys some critics, yet none can claim that Wideman, the only two-time winner of the PEN/Faulkner award, isn’t in complete control of his skills. And while he doesn’t shy away from being a “difficult” writer, he gilds his challenges with resonant emotional truths.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN is the author of more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Philadelphia Fire, and most recently the story collection God's Gym. He is the recipient of two PEN/ Faulkner Awards and has been nominated for the National Book Award. He teaches at Brown University.

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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was particularly attracted to the title, and the first of this collection of stories concerning his mom being a weightlifter, that is carrying huge burdens for children, their faith, well-being, etc. This was the best for me out of this, which progressively wore on this reviewer.

The style is grating after a bit, but does raise one's sensitivities a great deal with the staccato scene shifts, in and out of someone's reality, etc.

One can only pause at times and breathe deeply, as this writer certainly has a way with getting across emotions which most of us think continually, yet never broadcast nor write down all of them as this does.

Some left me in a daze, e.g. where did the jumpshot come from.
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