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The Surf Guru: Stories Paperback – August 2, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594485224
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594485220
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,692,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dorst's acclaimed debut, Alive in Necropolis, folded sci-fi, horror, and noir elements into a layered coming-of-age story, and a similar mix of lively imagination and love of craft are on display in this excellent collection. "Splitters" hilariously recreates a scholarly treatise, replete with bloated footnotes and period photographs, by a biologist unloading personal grudges upon colleagues. In the title story, dozens of short vignettes have the effect of snapshots or glimpses that the reader is challenged to piece together. A similar method is used, but to a grander effect, in "Twelve Portraits of Dr. Gauchet," which borrows its title from a Van Gogh painting and depicts the life of the famous artist's physician. The narrative in the poignant and surprisingly suspenseful "Dinaburg's Cake" coils in the obsessive mind of its protagonist, a cake maker in pursuit of a lost client with whom she imagines a significant connection. Whether it's the campaign adviser shackled to a loser in "The Candidate in Bloom" or the hapless dreamers in "Vikings" and "What Is Mine Will Know My Face," the humanity in Dorst's characters can break a reader's heart.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Dorst (Alive in Necropolis, 2008) consistently finds the sweet spot between humor and pathos in this well-crafted and compulsively readable collection of 12 short stories. Whether it’s the wildly successful surfer tycoon who surveys the Pacific from his redwood deck or the hopelessly hungover house sitter who has badly bungled the tests that will allow her to hit the open road in a semitrailer truck, Dorst’s characters all share a deep yearning for a different, better life. In the nerve-jangling “Dinaburg’s Cake,” an expert cake-maker in Austin, Texas, loses the bid to make a wedding cake. Her obsessive quest to sample the winning cake brings her unexpected but welcome insight into “her depressed and mangy daughter, whom she loved more than anything.” In “Vikings,” two childhood friends drift into a small desert town, where they end up taking care of an abandoned baby. Their touching if ridiculous dream of “becoming a family” hits the skids as soon as the beer runs out. Recommend this imaginative and compelling collection to fans of Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (2009). --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten Nicole Mellor on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so wonderful, varied and appealing it is hard to think of anything even less than over the top to say about it. I think I loved every page, every character - there is not a weak spot in the entire collection. And this is quite an eclectic collection. The voice, tone and narrative varies so much on every piece you really marvel at the skill of the pen that produced it all in one place.

Each story is so utterly unique and individual, from the post-modern The Surf Guru, told from the perspective of a wealthy, insulated man, who has lost touch with who is and why he does what he does, to the persnickety and perpetually pissed off botanist in Splitters - grinding his axes post-mortem but totally interesting and alive on the page despite his overall loathesomeness, to the hapless Manolo, whose drunken bravado masks a consuming loss of the women he loved -- all the stories just hum. My favorites are the Phil and Trace stories about two childhood friends who cannot seem to get their luck together in the post-high school world - the stories are sardonic and sad and you know that all will eventually end badly for these folks, but I laughed out loud multiple times in each one. The writer's gift is wrapping the profound around the absurd and creating stories that stick with you for a long time. Dorst has such even affection for both the biggest losers and the shining lights that populate his stories - their humanity, and Dort's, glimmers on every page.

I loved Alive in Necropolis - it was quirky and original and full of full-blooded characters shambling through modern lives both interesting and mundane - but The Surf Guru collection is on some other higher plane altogether. It is just genius and I savored every page.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brkat on August 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to echo the opinion that this is the best collection of short stories that I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Superlatives couldn't capture how wonderful and original I thought "The Surf Guru" is. Author Doug Dorst's wide-ranging stories are creatively penned and vary in style, pace and tone. Each unique story has a different appeal. My favorites were "La Fiesta de San Humberto el Mentor" and "Splitters". One was heartfelt with a touch of magical realism. The other made me laugh. But all the stories, while a little off-beat, really strike at the core of the human spirit. All of the characters may be considered less than average because of either their position in life or because of the emotional baggage they carry. Yet Dorst manages to transform them into oddly sympathetic characters by the way he cleverly and wittingly portrays their struggles to become someone or achieve something more in life.

For me, "The Surf Guru" was an absolute sparkling read. I would highly, highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By avoraciousreader on July 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Surf Guru: stories, by Doug Dorst, 2010

Excellent and varied stories, 5*

I was a little leery when I learned that Doug Dorst's new book (after his knockout debut, Alive in Necropolis) was a collection of stories. Too often the skills that make for a good novel -- the world building and extended character and plot development -- don't translate to good short stories. Fortunately Dorst has pulled it off, as I might have anticipated based on the dense yet entertaining prose and density of invention and development of Alive. The variety of setting, structure and theme also keep the reader's interest.

There are a dozen stories in some 275 pages, so most of these really classify as novelas or novelettes, though there are a few genuine shorts (and a few are multipartite, with one or two page sub-stories). Just a sampling:

"The Surf Guru" The unnamed Guru is long past actual surfing, designing and selling the GOO-ROO line of surf gear and clothes, in a very laid back California style, mostly just sitting on a cliff drinking Chianti and overlooking "his" beach where every surfer wears GOO-ROO .... except for the lone red-haired boy, who has his own story line. The Guru has an ex-wife who finds him less fun than his dog does, and two MBAs who run the business. He is rumored to control the tides. Life is slow and settled ...until it changes. Stylistically, the story is broken into chapters varying from a single line to shy of a page.

"Splitters: H. A. Quilcock's Profiles in Botany: A Lost Manuscript Restored, Edited by Jonathan Parker Kingslee, Ph. D.
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