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Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge Hardcover – August 6, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316224642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316224642
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: Peter Orner’s exquisite second collection of stories rambles across time and place, from postwar 1947 to 1978 to 1958, from Chappaquiddick to Chicago to the Czech Republic, each exposing a small, intimate moment. Like an uncomfortably candid photograph (the work of William Eggleston or Vivian Maier comes to mind), the stories are finite and tightly framed, some just a page or two. Some are whimsical, some sobering, and most conclude with a “wow” moment that requires a pause--to reflect on the horror or beauty of the story, or the bravado of the writer. In one of the strongest pieces, a boy-girl conversation about an ex-lover turns unexpectedly chilling, ending with the perfect closing line: “I said don’t touch me.” From a frightened dad suffering a “permanent state of mourning” to the “childless couple” murdered in their garage to the brothers looking back on the day they fished beneath the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick, Orner’s characters are raw, exposed, often sad, and the dialogue conveys the uncomfortable sense that you’re spying on deeply personal conversations. In a year of high-profile collections (George Saunders, Karen Russell) Orner deserves a place among those who are bringing the short form back to new artistic heights. --Neal Thompson

From Booklist

Orner is an undisputed master of the short short story (his first collection, Esther Stories, 2001, has just been reissued), a form that even shapes his novels (Love and Shame and Love, 2011). The 51 distilled tales in this fizzing, chilling, and incisive collection are rich in emotional intricacy, drama, and devilish humor. Also in high evidence is Orner’s fascination with fractious marriages and families under pressure—especially in beautifully rendered stories set in his native Illinois—and his gift for a touch of evil. A wife stands by her Bernie Madoffish husband. A man compulsively returns to a restaurant where a murder was committed. A father barely escapes a hurricane with his daughter. A woman recounts her lover’s disappearance and macabre reappearance. A woman in Mexico City misses her sister, who is out of reach in Ohio. With an eye to history and the mythic nature of public figures, Orner imagines Isaac Babel’s last moments and the struggles of Russian immigrants, the Kennedys, and Chicago mayors. This is a book of alchemical concentration, microcosmic resonance, arresting surprises, and stubborn tenderness. --Donna Seaman

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Customer Reviews

I’m not saying not to read it, I’m saying it’s wasn’t for me.
Honeybee
As conclusion, if you enjoy reading short stories be sure not to miss this collection, you will probably like it as much as I did...
Denis Vukosav
This book is for anyone who loves to read, loves good (make that great) writing, or who wants to write.
Louisa M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge" by Peter Orner is an interesting collection of fifty short stories.

Stories are divided into four parts: "Survivors", "The Normal", "In Moscow Everything Will Be Different" and "Country of Us", the main motive being a connection between our childhood and adulthood, and how confusing is for kids to understand confusing world of adults.

Although some of stories are made only of paragraph and others are several pages long they all tell stories about human emotions and human interactions. Stories are not placed in particular place or time, they're skipping through the decades and you can find yourself in places all around the world from Russia and Czech Republic, but most of them are placed in US Midwest. And although I don't live in US it's obvious that this location ensures a certain type of atmosphere, providing some special scene setting.

For me, the most beautiful story was "Spokane" that begins with an interesting question we asked ourselves and people around us at least once in our life - "If I tell you something will you listen? Will you not leave and will you listen...?" Are we going to tell some truths about ourselves to some other person, can we speak about our emotions or actions without being afraid of judgment, without fear that we will not be left alone, this is the type of questions the author asked in his stories, as well.

I didn't read Orner's first collection of stories Love and Shame and Love", I came to this book because of Amazon recommendation and enjoyed author's literary style a lot. As is the case with all collections of stories, not all of them would leave same impression on reader, for me some have left a powerful impression immediately, some other I should read once again when I will think about them.

As conclusion, if you enjoy reading short stories be sure not to miss this collection, you will probably like it as much as I did...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tony Donahoe on August 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Seriously, is there a better short story writer on the planet right now? I loved Orner's last novel, Love and Shame and Love, but, wow, this collection of short stories blew me away. Each Orner story is like a sparking gem, but put together it's like one of those treasure troves in the movies. I dare you to read these stories and not be left breathless. The stories in this collection will haunt you. Orner can capture more about a character in a single sentence than most writers can do in whole novel.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jane on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
No other living practitioner of the craft of short story matches Orner for his ability to plot the private realities of interior lives or duplicates his beautifully restrained prose. (His is language that plays across multiple registers from the formal to the casual--from the poetic to the staccato of noir pulp.) I would say these are stories that will break your heart in their sounding of human weakness and desire, but to do so would be to run counter to Orner's aesthetic, which is relentlessly, sometimes brutally, unsentimental. These are stories that bruise, even when they elicit laughter: tales of the ordinary, of everyday life, with its dark, small corners somehow illuminated. A brother who, in terrible innocence, leads a sister to drowning; a married couple whose life and relationship is wound round a banal lie that eventually corrupts and undoes both them and their small social world; a witness to a crime who confesses only to an understanding of the isolation of life in the strip malls of America.

Great, necessary read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on April 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There are two types of stories in the collection from Peter Orner titled, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge: short and shorter. I enjoyed reading both types. Orner has the skill to present wit or devastation in just a few paragraphs. We don’t ever find out the complete life or story, but we get the condensed essence. Orner meanders from one time period and place to another in this collection. Each story includes finely written prose and cohesion. No matter how short the story, I consciously paced myself to read only one story at each sitting. I wanted to absorb what Orner did in one story before I started to read another. Readers who enjoy a wide range of short stories are those most likely to savor this finely written collection.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By CAROL CUSTER on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book of short (very short!) stories. I was intrigued by the vast variety of topics the author covered by writing little flash fiction pieces. The descriptive phrases were exceptional.

I liked some of the stories more than others, of course, but the advantage of having little bites of fiction like this is that there is something for everyone. It's impossible to be bored reading this book.

Some of the subjects were a bit obscure; but even in those cases, the stories made me think and reflect on them.

I look forward to reading more of this author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Walters on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Many of Orner's readers have been waiting almost 15 years for a followup to 2001's Esther Stories. Eclectic, compressed, often comic, always emotionally devastating, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge is a collection for the ages. What Orner is able to do in few pages, many writers cannot do in two hundred.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Honeybee on April 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had the book on my Kindle for a few months before I got to it, so I forgot what it was about. It’s a bunch of short stories about different people in different time periods in different locations. Even though I didn’t enjoy the book, I did completely read it in hopes it would come together, but it never did for me. Sorry I just didn’t get the book. I’m not saying not to read it, I’m saying it’s wasn’t for me.
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