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Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing [Kindle Edition]

Lydia Peelle
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $1.99
You Save: $12.00 (86%)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

With this first book of fiction, a gifted young writer brings together eight superbly crafted stories that peer deeply into the human heart, exploring lives derailed by the loss of a vital connection to the land and to the natural world of which they are a part.

"Mule Killers" evokes the end of an era and of a grandfather's dreams when he decides to replace animal power on his farm with tractors. Two restless young girls in "Sweethearts of the Rodeo" live out their last summer of innocence, riding ponies recklessly and spying on their boss and the wealthy women who visit him. In "Phantom Pain," the Tennessee woods are a sliver of what they once were, men now hunt with GPS and cell phones, and the rumor of a dangerous panther on the loose stirs up a small town.

An unexpected vision of the beauty and mystery of life redeems the darkest moments in this stellar debut collection, a book that readers will want to read and reread.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this debut collection of eight esoteric stories—three of them prize winners—Peelle's characters negotiate tumultuous relationships and buried memories. This nimbly crafted group of lonely souls range from a one-legged taxidermist, who happens to be the only person in town who does not believe a hungry panther is on the loose, to a winter-bound woman, tormented by her ex-husband but saved by the most unlikely of creatures. In This Is Not a Love Story, a mother comes across a box of old photographs, which remind her of a summer she spent trying to turn a hobby into a career and a lush into a husband. In Sweethearts of the Rodeo, the narrator reminisces about working at a stable with her best friend, tormenting their handsome boss and the rich women who board their horses there. Yet another, The Still Point, follows a man traveling with a carnival, trying to outrun the loss of his twin brother and family home. Peelle writes her meaty characters with vigor and packs each tale with descriptions so subtly vibrant that they warrant multiple visits. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“With humor and insight, these sharply etched fictions illuminate turning lives conscribed by limited horizons.... Peelle vividly evokes a setting and brings its inhabitants...instantly and convincingly to life.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 261 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061724734
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Original edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,870 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prose Elegies August 22, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I began to read this book of stories--elegies actually--having just finished C. E. Morgan's All the Living. I say this because it seems so ironic that I would discover both books at the same time, each set in areas where tobacco was the main crop. And each brilliantly composed. I say elegies because that is what all of the stories really are. In a world gone mad--and sometimes I truly believe it has--where collecting possessions seems to be our only reason for existence, it is wonderful to have stories like these. I too had a wonderful set of grandparents who also owned and labored on their farm, theirs up at the tippy-top of Vermont where instead of tobacco maple syrup was the crop they harvested (in addition to haying for their Jerseys). These are stories, like Annie Proulx's, which are firmly held together by the landscape from which they emerge. I found many of the characters to be like shadows, ghosts really, who refuse to let go. And that was wonderful for me, seeing the grandfather crying and the son occasionally lifting lids on the spices his long-dead mother once used in her cooking. The landscape in these stories is both harsh and unforgiving and yet not necessarily so because asparagus does continue to grow, year after year, in spite of all else human that has occurred. Tractors replace mules, the mules who created the roads upon which the huge trucks with all their noisiness take these mules off to slaughter. But Lydia Peelle leaves us with those mules because of memory left by those still living. I believe this is a book that will--and should--win awards. And not least it is wonderfully presented in his binding.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Lydia Peele's debut book, "Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing", a superb collection of eight short stories, is an astonishing book written in splendid prose. The cumulative effect of reading these marvelous stories lingers in a reader's mind for a very long time.

There is a unifying theme, a common thread running through most of these stories: the effect of modern technology on the human psyche, the deleterious effect of human progress on nature, the rapidly dwindling wilderness, the pain and cruelty man inflicts on others and also on animals, and the most alarming phenomenon - the diminishing ability of man to empathize with others. These points meld perfectly in the story I most admired, "The mule killers", about the effect of the advent of tractors not just on the narrator's grandfather's farm, but on the grandfather's mind itself. The narrator describes the heart-rending scene of the mules of the farm carted away in trailers to the slaughterhouse, to be sold as cheap meat for dog food. This story just tugged at my heat and caused me a great deal of pain and anguish. This story won the O Henry Award in 2006.

"This is not a love story", "Shadow on a weary land", "The still point", and "Sweet hearts of the rodeo" are extraordinarily good. I enjoyed reading them.

Two of these stories have been featured in the "Best New American Voices", and two others have won Pushcart Prizes also. And all these stories have been published, individually, as e-Books by "Mobypocket".

I do not wish to compare Lydia Peelle with other short story writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Alice Munro because Lydia Peelle has a unique voice and a unique style. Reading this book was a great joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Stories September 24, 2011
Gripping stories about how development and modern life is changing the south. It's a beautifully written book, however, it is not uplifting, not light. I finished some of the stories asking if there was any hope. I'm not saying not to read the book, since it takes a well written book to make me question how I view the world, but be prepared for the emotions it will surely evoke.
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