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Kentucky Straight: Stories Paperback – October 27, 1992


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The stories in this debut collection share more than a setting in poor and sparsely populated Kentucky; they share a certainty and frankness of language that renders them powerful. When a young boy's grandfather presents himself after an extended absence, the boy wonders if he should believe that he's his grandfather: "Grandfathers whittled a lot and taught their grandsons how to fish. Lije was just old." Offutt's visual imagery is equally strong and direct. After a man loses a leg in a construction accident and is taken to the hospital, one of his colleagues carries the severed limb around for a while, unsure of what to do with it. Many of the stories center on the isolation underlying social relationships. A pool-playing young man who longs to escape the grim hog farm that is his home is distracted from his game only by his seductive sister, who drunkenly visits strange men in their vans. At a poker game held in a smokehouse, an eager gambler stakes a bet on the size of his penis, and wins, but ends up feeling humiliated anyway. Offutt, who grew up in the Kentucky Appalachians, offers taut stories filled with strained relationships and unarticulated desires; his characters deceive themselves into believing that their lives are simpler than they are.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

Riveting, often heartbreaking stories that take readers through country that is figuratively and literally unmapped. These stories are set in a nameless community too small to be called a town, a place where wanting an education is a mark of ungodly arrogance and dowsing for water a legitimate occupation. Offutt has received a James Michener Grant and a Kentucky Arts Council Award.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (October 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067973886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679738862
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #672,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CR on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dream tinker, Chris Offut, takes us into the woods with a kerosene lamp and holds the light to a place in ourselves we visit even less often. There's no room in these stories for anything but the story being told and there lies the straight, no chaser. If this book was a season it'd be the spring rains. If this book was a car it'd be a tow-truck. If this book was a a museum piece it'd belong in the American Museum of Natural History. After reading the third story in this collection, THE LEAVING ONE, I knew I was going to begin this book again after finishing it. It's difficult to place the corect amount of stars on a book such as this. I'd probably have to give it a planet, like Venus, as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan H. Montgomery on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This remarkable collection of stories is well named; it is, indeed, Kentucky, straight. No frills, no gimmicks, no adornment, just a clear voice telling stories that draw a reader in from the first paragraph. "Old of the Moon" took my breath away. "Smokehouse" should be required reading for any boomer tempted to whine their way through mid-life. "Nine-Ball" makes you look at gun racks in pick-up trucks in an entirely new light. In his pure voice, this writer leaves us with extraordinary images: bills of cash twisted around barbs in a stretch of fence; splitting a wooden match and saving half for later; roads not good for hauling things in, but only for taking coal out. Each of the stories in this collection is a gem and this reader found herself thinking about them long after they'd been read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
It doesn't matter if Chris Offutt is a "real" Appalachian or not, what matters is that he's a real person with a real heart that sings out loud in this truly inspirational book of short stories. His perspective is as valid as any, and it all rings true in Kentucky Straight. These stories speak to the soul of people everywhere and you won't find a better collection of truly American stories. I hate to use the "I laughed, I cried, I jumped for joy" clichŽ, but I read this cover to cover over a weekend and yearned for more. As a writer of short fiction, I found Offutt's style to be unique and inspirational.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Crosser on September 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
A well written short story is my favorite thing to read. Mr. Offutt's book "Kentucky Straight" is full of ones that more than suffice. I enjoy his honesty. He allows the reader to objectively peak around a hickory tree and truly see Appalachia. His stories ring so true, that i would not be surprised if someone from his holler might mistaken them to be fact. Mr. Offutt vividly brings the woods to the reader. I suggest that anyone reading these stories for the first time read them outside, under a shade tree. Xer...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
If you are considering buying this book, please do. Let's just say that first off. Just get it and we'll go from there.
Why? Well, Chris Offutt has one of the freshest, most innovative voices I've read in years. I absolutely love his work. His characters are poignant and real. The situations that they deal with are intense, gritty, and often hilarious. He seems to play with juxtaposing deep sadness with humor in this book... I often found myself stunned quiet, then laughing out loud the next minute. I read this book on a plane, and folks in other rows were asking me what book I was reading, because I was laughing so much.
_The Same River Twice_ would round out your appreciation of Chris Offut's work if you were so interested. This book is a memoir, and you get to find out about the mind this author rides around in. It's also a fantastic book.
Enjoy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marion VINE VOICE on May 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
These stories literally broke my heart....then made it sing. Chris Offutt is a word magician, pure and simple. I loved his memoir, "The Same River Twice" and this collection of stories is as good or better. I can't remember when I've loved an entire collection of short stories more than these. I checked this book out at the library, but will definitely buy a copy for my permanent, never-loan-out collection. This book is a treasure!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Just the facts. on December 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
I bought this book since it did have excellent reviews here on Amazon.

I read the collection of short stories, and I found them to be poorly written. The characters were not well developed, the writing was very poor in quality, and I would frequently wonder who decided to actually OK the publishing of all of these stories?

The stories were set in rural Kentucky, and were full of really bad stereotypes about the South and rural Southern people such as claiming that the majority of people there don't even finish highschool or get far into highschool, the one character's sister who was the town prostitute who the main character apparently wanted to have incest with his own sister since he'd never been with anyone, and other nonsense.

Save your money and buy a collection of well written short stories, and don't buy this book.

Some reivwers are comparing this author to Breece D'j Pancake. Pancake could actually write some entertaing stories that were realistic; but Offutt cannot.
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