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The Same River Twice: A Memoir Paperback – February 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140232532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140232530
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,840,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What keeps this first book by Offut from becoming a familiar nonfictional Bildungsroman is the author's sensitivity to nature and his lyrical prose in writing about it. Offut, however, is far less successful in describing people: his memoir is populated by a predictable array of derelicts, oddballs and near-psychotics as he journeys around the U.S., dreaming alternately of becoming an actor, a painter, a playwright and a poet, yet usually doing little to realize his aspirations. Only those who are intrigued by America's social underside will enjoy Offut's portraits of human flotsam. The underlying plot of the book concerns his wife's pregnancy and the birth of their first child, a son, but neither Offut's approach to nor his words about this subject are original.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A new and promising writer, Offutt records his rocky road to manhood and becoming a writer. Whether hitching a ride with a dangerous character or working as a walrus in a traveling circus, he felt compelled to keep a journal. He left Appalachia at 19 and took a decade to realize he was sinking ever deeper into failure. Finally, he changed course, got married, and, with the encouragement of his wife, enrolled in a writing program. The results were a 1990 Michener Award for short fiction and a collection of stories, Kentucky Straight (Random, 1992). In his current volume, by turns lyrical and graphic, outrageous and sensitive, tragic and hilarious, Offutt writes of the 29 stitches his wife required after childbirth, how his mother spoke "gentle as rain," and of the twinkling of beaver saliva on fresh wood chips in the Iowa woods where he now lives. Strong writing in a memoir of particular interest to academic libraries.
- Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Cooke on February 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Besides the fact that Chris Offutt is a great writer, I like the guy's work because he's so honest and genuine. For those of you who can't tell the difference, Chris is an authentic country boy. Reading this memoir and sections of his novel "The Good Brother", I recognize the rhythm of speech, turns of phrase, and basic life assumptions that are innate in country boys like us from the Great State of Kentucky and southward, although I'm afraid that some traits are more reflected in the guys I prosecute than in myself. Offutt has given an admirable voice to a class of folks who are ridiculed and berated, but rarely understood. Thank you for helping us understand, Mr. Offutt-those of us seeking to understand ourselves, and those for whom the country is a place to visit. I'm afraid there aren't too many people today who get sentimental when they hear their state song the way we do when we hear "My Old Kentucky Home" (or "Georgia on my Mind"). It seems like no one understands the point of standing on a handful of dirt from your homeland when you get married in a foreign land (or New York City). At least they will recognize great writing when they see it. And here it is in your memoir.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marion VINE VOICE on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book and have re-read it several times. The account of his first sexual experience in New York City is worth the price of the book. It is hilarious!
I was hooked from the moment I read this quote in the front of the book by Richard Hugo, "I forget the names of the towns without rivers. A town needs a river to forgive the town. Whatever river, whatever town---It is much the same. The cruel things I did, I took to the river. I begged the current: make me better."
Chris Offutt has takes ordinary words and weaves them into memorable events that stick in your mind long after the last page is read. The way he intertwines the story of his travels and his journey into fatherhood is beautiful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By spyderbaby13 on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
this is an absolutely beautiful piece. offett has the ability to make the reader laugh, cry, and think critically all at the same time. It is unpredictable, interesting, and provocative. It was hard for me to believe that after all his crazy adventures he was actually going thru with fatherhood. it is a wonderful look into one talented writer's life. and katherine dunn could learn a few things about how carnival life should be portrayed by reading offett's memoir. a must read for fans of memoir, autobiography, and autobiographical fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Olivia Starr on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
What an adventure! The author has an uncanny ability to tell the tales of his travels with a poignant and hilarious viewpoint. He is dead on with his keen observations of human behavior through the inexperienced eyes of a displaced Kentucky hayseed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. A Kelley on September 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
i picked this book up as a recommendation from a bookstore and it was great read.
The author who left home at age nineteen and drifts along with various jobs and finally ending up living on the banks of the iowa river.
He takes regular walks comtemplating how his life is going to change and how good a father he is going to be(his wife of course is pregenant)as he takes these walks the stories from his odd jobs are woven in.For me the best job he had was when hewas pretending to be a real live walrus in a small circus.This is a great book give it a shot
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
I actually wept at the description of Offutt's son's birth that ends the book, both because of the way it's told and the chain of events (some more compelling than others, some less believable) that led up to his becoming a father. A gut-wrenchingly honest book, beautiful and funny, if at times a bit of a stretch. He's quite a writer. Those 15-hour days paid off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay M. VINE VOICE on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I remember reading the short story by Chris Offutt, "Aunt Granny Lith," and although I think I enjoyed that piece more than this book, I found Offutt's descriptions to be simply gorgeous. His writing was far from flowery, but he still managed to effortlessly convey the beauty of the landscape and use simple language to relay fresh, original insights. It's really just amazing to read a work that displays such easy mastery and tight control.
Some of the descriptions/scenes that I really liked: "After the quantum mechanics of Manhattan, Brooklyn sounded like simple geometry," (27) "My fears shed as easily as autumn leaves in rain" (188), the bathroom proposal (classic), when he pretended to be a walrus, and finally, his son's birth at the end. I liked the epilogue, too, although I didn't think it necessarily had to be there.
Another great part of this story is the humor. Offutt has this great ability to paint ridiculous pictures--God, the image of hair like "crumpled spiders" still makes me shudder. From walruses to dwarfs--not dwarves, obviously--to awkward baseball imagery, this book is not short of laughs.
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