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Local Souls
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
So many hyphens. Highly-hyphenated prose, as I slow-work my way through this over-turgid writing. The hyphens, glued-attached between nearly half of all adjective-modifier pairs, muddy-anesthetize my brain as I try to trudge-walk through this book. And what a technique! To over-consciously deploy common words in an off-balance way, better-faster to make the reader stop-think and ponder - there must be some deep-deeper meaning to what the author is imparting-saying! Oh-dear. After 80 chore-pages, E-nough for me, I'm afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2013
This book contains three novellas, all set in the same small city in NC called Falls. There is only minor overlap of the characters. I liked the first story, "Fear Not" very much. The improbability of the plot fades in the skilful characterization. I didn't much like the second story, "Saints Have Mothers," even though the plot, involving a fraudulent scheme to extract money from the mother of a girl who is spending a term in Africa, is believable. But the girl herself, especially in the long opening section recounting her good deeds, is not believable. We are not given any reason why she is such a do-gooder. The third story, "Decoy" is by far the best and gives a fine and sensitive picture of the town and "The Fallers," or locals and maintains suspense throughout. In all three stories Gurganus shows himself a master of language and the book is worth reading to enjoy that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2014
As much as I love Alan Gurganus for the most part (White People and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All tops the list), I forced myself to slog through this one, hoping it would pick up (his descriptions, however, remain quite witty and wonderful). And I never quite grasped the concept: Was I looking at different aspects of one town through the eyes of different characters? Was I following the lineage of one family? Very confusing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2014
This author seemed compelled to use every word he knew. I prayed for the end of this book. It is only because I finish every book I start that I was able to complete this. It was never ending with the most stilted prose ever. It was so choppy and I still don't even understand how the second story really ended. And I read the last 10 pages twice. I hate and despised this book. I am overjoyed I did not pay for it. It was overbearing and pretentious. Boring!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2014
This collection left me with many questions and wondering Why am I reading this? until I reached the third, and by far the longest, story, "Decoy". Here is where the author's agenda of "local souls" finally and truly hit home for me after the quirky and somewhat unsatisfying opening stories of "Fear Not" and "Saints Have Mothers". I should amend that to say that "Fear Not", while definitely quirky, was not as unsatisfying for me as the second story...but perhaps if I were the mother of a pretty perfect teenage daughter I'd be better able to relate.

As for the final story, it exists on many levels of family, friendship, community, pseudo-community (the artifice we build up around ourselves and call our life). It runs from childhood to old age and deals with all manner of life events in many ways as Bill Mabrey (Jr) contemplates the life he has been (lucky) to have due to the rather odd luck of his father.

Gurganus shows a very fertile imagination and writing style, much of which I appreciated but some of which was a little beyond my interest. I am interested in trying him again as I found his voice in "Decoy"to be so compelling.

3.5*
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on August 9, 2014
Local Souls is a collection of three long stories/novellas that investigate how we deal with cataclysm in our lives. Each story contains a major event - two positive and one negative - that shape, challenge, and ultimately reform the protagonist in each story in very different ways. Gurganus calls the reader to also look at how change, both positive and negative, affect our lives. His sense of character and place development is masterful as is his sense of timing. Unfortunately, his use of dialectical language made for difficult reading at times. This may be indicative of an eastern North Carolina manner of speech and, if so, this comment is misplaced, but it was disruptive for me in a work of fiction. But this is a small issue in an otherwise thought provoking collection of fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2014
I think he is a beautiful writer, but I kept wondering when the book would end. It just went on too long...
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2013
Three very thoughtful and creative "longish short-stories" that are very slow to read given excessive wordiness and unmerited space devoted to inner dialogues. The third and final tale suffers least from this redundant and circuitous style. While I typically relish the chance to linger over beautiful and insightful prose, this collection, I believe could have used some judicious editing. It's not likely to please readers who prefer literature that flows reasonably quickly and skillfully gets to the point.
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on July 19, 2014
It would be 4.5 as I truly loved the book but thought the ending went on a hair too long and found myself skimming pages at the end. I do believe Allan Gurganus is one of the finest living American novelists! His use of language, vivid characters and interesting to offbeat situations is unequaled. I have never been disappointed by one of his books and this is no exception. He nails the foibles of the town characters and captures the peculiarities and flavor of small town america. Who else could make the carving and painting of decoys both interesting and amusing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2014
I love stories about people living in small towns and the quirky characters that often appear. However, in this book, no one was engaging. No one was remarkable.

The first two stories rambled along well enough to make me give it a chance. However, once into the third story, I was hard pressed to see where the story was going. I decided not to waste any more time and did not finish the book.

A huge disappointment. Sorry I am stuck with it on my Kindle.
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