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The Bible Repairman and Other Stories Paperback – September 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Powers always goes the distance, never taking easy shortcuts that tempt authors with lesser imaginations."
—Manchester Guardian

“Powers knows the ways we get haunted—by ambition, loss, greed, and heartbreak—and you finish reading this handful of beautifully crafted tales wishing he’d tell us more.”

“Mr. Powers makes you doubt the reality of your own [world]. Are there still sin-eaters and ghost-talkers quietly pursuing their trade in tenements and behind weed-infested yards, with regular tariffs and specializations? If there are, what do they know that you don’t? That’s what creates a true frisson.”
Wall Street Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Tim Powers’s first collection of short fiction in over half a decade, The Bible Repairman and Other Stories is a potent six-story collection that plays effortlessly with many of the author’s favorite themes.”
Green Man Review

“Powers specializes in hidden histories and all of these stories present a very real exterior and another world inside its cracks.”
Denver Post

“Powers’s first new collection since 2005 assembles five stories and a novella, where he exhibits his extraordinary talent as a fantasist and his uncommon imaginative power.”
SF Site

“Superb.... Here, in potent, distilled form, you will find Powers’s trademarked secret histories, heroically damaged (or damagedly heroic) losers, creepy supernatural phenomena, and macabre humor.”
Barnes & Noble Review

About the Author

Tim Powers has been compared to Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson, and Clive Barker and was lauded by Kirkus as “the reigning king of adult historical fantasy.” His novel Declare, a supernatural secret history of post-WWII espionage, won the 2001 World Fantasy and the International Horror Guild awards. He is the two-time recipient of the Philip K. Dick Award for The Anubis Gates and Dinner at Deviant’s Palace and a three-time Locus Award winner for Last Call, Expiration Date, and Earthquake Weather. His latest novel, Hide Me Among the Graves, is a sequel to his classic supernatural thriller, The Stress of Her Regard. Powers has taught at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop and has co-taught the Writers of the Future Workshop with Algis Budrys.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications; First Edition edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616960477
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616960476
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Tim Powers is not the most prolific of writers, which makes it slightly odd to note that THE BIBLE REPAIRMAN AND OTHER STORIES is his third collection in barely a decade (following the complete lack of collections in his first two-and-a-half decades of writing). But it's not really as odd as it may seem: Night Moves started it off in early 2001, pulling together six stories from the '80s and '90s, and then 2005's Strange Itineraries expanded NIGHT MOVES, adding three more stories Powers had published in the intervening years.

Still, BIBLE REPAIRMAN came along only six years later, and contains six stories written since STRANGE ITINERARIES -- and, as far as I can tell, Powers has never written six stories in six years before this. I could quibble and say that I want more novels from Powers, but, the truth is, Powers is one of our very best and most exacting fantasy writers, and I'll take whatever he wants to write. [1]

As is common with story collections by major writers these days, several of the stories in BIBLE REPAIRMAN first appeared as expensive limited editions -- the title story and "A Soul in a Bottle" from Subterranean, and "A Time to Cast Away Stones" from Charnel House -- and one of the remaining three stories, "A Journey of Only Two Paces," only appeared in shorter form in the program book for the British national SF convention. So most readers, except for the most well-heeled and attentive Powers fans, will only have had the opportunity to see, at most, two of these stories.
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Format: Paperback
I've been a big Tim Powers fan since I chanced upon ON STRANGER TIDES back in 1987. Talk about a rollicking, entertaining fantastical romp! STRESS OF HER REGARD, ANUBIS GATES and other Powers' novels confirmed that he was/is a rare talent. THE BIBLE REPAIRMAN AND OTHER STORIES is the first Powers' short story collection I've read. I had high hopes when I picked it up at B&N but, sad to say, I found it a mixed bag.

THE BIBLE REPAIRMAN AND OTHER STORIES consists of five short stories and an extended piece - 'A Time to Cast Away Stones' - that is a coda of sorts to his STRESS OF HER REGARD. To my mind, it's the most engaging piece in the book, a fantasmagorical tale that mixes British author Edward John Trelawny's involvement in Greek civil wars circa 1824 with mountain gods, Percy Shelley's jawbone and Lord Byron's little toe! Don't worry. Powers makes it all work, in part because the piece runs to almost 60 pages.

The other stories, of shorter length, are uneven. For the life of me, I couldn't get into 'The Bible Repairman.' It seemed too fey; too insubstantial, like trying to capture smoke with your hands. 'A Soul in a Bottle' focused on a dead authoress seeking a second chance at life. 'The Hour of Babel' dealt with time travel. The executor of a will gets more than he bargained for in 'A Journey of Only Two Places.' All three stories were so-so. I did enjoy 'Parallel Lines' which features a battle of wits between an elderly woman and her dead twin sister who's plotting to return from the grave.

Given the regard Powers is held in, I could be all wet when it comes to THE BIBLE REPAIRMAN AND OTHER STORIES. I was disappointed but others may think it's vintage Powers. Your call, folks.
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Format: Paperback
I actually read these and loved them.

As Harriet mentions and is true, many of these short stories were previously available in very small print runs. However, I'm a pretty big Tim Powers fan and only had half of these. The collection is excellent and the stories are interesting. They will definitely make more sense if you are familiar with Tim Power's conceits around ghosts, but should make sense to the new reader as well.

I think Michael's review rightly calls out 'The Bible Repairman' for being just a little short of fulfilling, but I do love the others and in particular 'The Hour of Babel'.

Of additional interest is the small afterword he writes for each piece, providing insight as to each story's genesis. I don't recall those being in the original editions I have of "A Soul in a Bottle" nor "The Bible Repairman" and are a nice bonus.
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Format: Paperback
Tim Powers does not often write short fiction, but when he does, he comes up with doozies. The Bible Repairman and Other Stories contains a mere six stories, but each one is so well-crafted that it will stick in your brain, giving you odd jabs now and then, twisting a thought or causing goosebumps.

"The Bible Repairman" is about Torrez, a man who makes his living "fixing" Bibles: carefully "scorch[ing] out the verses the customers found intolerable, with a wood-burning stylus." Particularly popular passages for excision include Jesus's condemnation of remarriage after divorce and Jesus's promise of Hell to stingy people. He also does custom repairs to cars, such as installing a "pain button" that the owner can push when the car refuses to start -- foolishness, but it indulges his customers' anthropomorphization of their automobiles -- but also performing legitimate repairs, such as removing a babbling ghost from a car's stereo system. He does not, however, retrieve stolen or kidnapped ghosts any longer, for fear of losing his mind. But one day a man comes to his door asking him to ransom his daughter -- and he means a living daughter, not a ghost. In payment, he brings Torrez's own daughter's ghost, kidnapped years ago. You cannot adequately imagine how the story goes from there; you must read it. It is one of the more peculiar and wonderful stories I've read in recent years.

Tim Powers's affinity with ghosts extends to "A Soul in a Bottle." In this story, George Sydney meets a woman as he reaches down to place three pennies beside Jean Harlow's square at the Chinese Theater. She becomes entangled with his discovery of a rare book of poetry -- rare because one of the poems appears to be signed by the poet.
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