Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This is a typical used book. When a visitor picks it up and looks it over it will look as if you've read it even if you have not gotten to it yet. We Pack Carefully and Ship Daily! No dust jacket.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Sworn Before Cranes Hardcover – April 19, 1994

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$14.63 $0.44
"Please retry"

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

One of the longer pieces in this set of 18, most of them more sketches or anecdotes than short stories, is about an old man who has become "a workhorse of condolence," attending the funerals and grieving relations of all those who die within quite a stretch of the plains around Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Another is about the fan belt on the narrator's car breaking "at so gifted a place it would have been heartless to complain"--near a ferry across the upper Missouri where he's delayed for a weekend and gets to know the family who lives there. The other, shorter stories, similarly populated by mostly Indian and some white Great Plains people, share the longer ones' photographic clarity and poetic intensity. Gilfillan's previous writing experience as a poet shows in a chastity of diction, an ear for nuance, and a transparency of vision that put these pieces in a class with the interstitial sketches of Hemingway's In Our Time and Jim Heynen's yarns about "the boys" (which are more humorous and consciously mythic, to be sure) as some of the purest, most concentrated "fiction" in American prose literature. Astonishing. Ray Olson

From Kirkus Reviews

Heart-wrenchingly well-written stories, often as stark as an Andrew Wyeth farmscape. Gilfillan has three books of poetry and a prize-winning essay collection (Magpie Rising, not reviewed). Most of us shouldn't read, and perhaps couldn't absorb, more than one of these stories at a time. Set in the rusted gas-pump Flicker River country of the Great Plains, they're filled with retarded folk (``Everyone called them the Slows...''), misfits, castoffs, starving Indians, Ethiopian immigrants, and traders who run ``bone sheds'' and sell ``Used Cow Parts,'' antelope and elk bones, and live rattlesnakes. Dogs loiter about the yard or creep onto their rag beds under the porch. Many of the stories seem to offer only description without narrative, but that's a deception: Looking back from the rise at a story's end, a reader is likely, at that moment, to discern the pattern of what has just been traversed. The title story opens: ``At first glance, nothing in the valley appears animate, unless you count the few snowflakes hedging from a glaring white sky as animate, or the ice-edged low-water creeks knifing their crooked ways. Even the frozen dirt roads, snow-white against the pale grasslands, show no tracks or signs of passage.... Then, the good deep well, engineless cars filled with rough overflow storage, a brown horse and a colt, laundry frozen on the line, a big pile of firewood.'' Out of such stillness some meatless Indians sneak up on a herd, kill and quarter a cow, take the four legs, leave the frozen fuselage, and go home to make a bubbling Christmas soup: ``Three grandmothers sat together in a corner, so old and leaflike and primary that they communicated by the positions of their hands in their quiet laps.'' Like the land they describe, Gilfillan's stories reward close attention by revealing layered signs of life. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (April 19, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 051759739X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517597392
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,356,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This collection was ahead of its time and deserves far more attention than it's received.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse