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High Lonesome Paperback – September 11, 1997

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Barry Hannah writes like a barroom raconteur talks: unevenly, wildly, with a superabundance of vivid images, sometimes improbable plotlines, and a wicked, comic appreciation for human failings. In this collection he takes on middle-aged heroes who've lived through bad marriages and are now suffering the ravages of alcohol and sexual craving--in other words, men not unlike Hannah himself. Hannah's turns of phrase can shoot off the page to stab the reader in the heart; even the weakest stories in this book contain a great line or two. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Though set mostly in the Mississippi of the recent past, these 13 unsettling, masterfully crafted fictions bring to mind not only the work of great Southern short-story writers like Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers but, in their brutal candor and tragic masculinity, also echo voices as diverse as those of the New Englander Raymond Carver and the urbanite Charles Bukowski. Exploring themes of contorted sexuality, voyeurism, guilt, prejudice, identity, familial dysfunction, death, aging, improbable friendship, alcoholism, creativity and self-destruction, Hannah (Bats Out of Hell) evokes a dolorous and sometimes darkly comic South peopled by desperate losers, weathered survivors and unexpected innocents. Robert Snerd and Cornelius Niggero become fast friends on the death of Niggero's wife, a woman both were in love?and involved?with. In "The Agony of T. Bandini," Tiger Bandini and the "lean black man" known only as Cruthers form a mysterious, lasting bond in the police drunk tank. "Drum" Dummond, a middle-aged, Christian dilettante in Paul Smith's writing class, befriends and encourages his troubled teacher but ultimately takes his own life ("Drummer Down)." In the briefest tale here, "A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis," a young boy out fishing hooks onto a sea monster. "It took place in no more than half a minute, I'd guess, but it had the lengthy rapture and terror of a whole tale." Just so, in these stories Hannah evokes an astonishing depth and range of emotion, as he economically blends notes of wistfulness and nostalgia into the dark, complex moods of his resonant, often disturbing tales.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (September 11, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135322
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a collection of short stories by one of the best writers in America today, which is why I'm amazed nobody seems to know about him. He's either a well-kept secret, or is perhaps symptomatic of the incestuous nature of the publishing world. I just can't figure why he's not better-known than he is, because he's so good.
Regardless, learn from this man if you desire to write decent stuff. I go through his books with a highlighter, marking good lines, of which there are plenty. Here's one from "Get Some Young":
"Walthall bought an ancient Jaguar sedan for nothing, and when it ran, smelling like Britain on the skids or the glove of a soiled duke..."
Like all good southern writers, Hannah uncovers the contradictions and depravities of the South with beautiful language. The previously-mentioned story is full of odd characters, while "A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis" is a laid-back story of youthful misadventure; "Carriba" is a bizarre tale of disgrace and redemption (?) with some great language; "Snerd and Niggero" deals with adultery, southern-style, and so on. Twisted southern living portrayed with magical prose.
Hannah is a joy to read (although not an easy read at times), and his works sparkle with lyrical gems that shine for you even if you don't know a bijou from a beignet.
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By A Customer on June 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
I picked up High Lonesome at the public library and brought it home with me a day or two ago. Read some stories last night, a few this morning when I woke up. There's good, good writing in this little book. It's not always easy writing, but it lets you in on not a few truths, some big, some small. Made me go down to the corner store and buy a six-pack of PBR tallboys and drink one in the hot hot sun, it still an hour before noon, just to think about the lives and the heartache and every now and again crazy joy I'd just been privilaged to glimpse.
Yes, yes.
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Format: Hardcover
High Lonesome by Barry Hannah. The Atlantic Monthly Press, 230pp.

At the close of "Repulsed," one of the thirteen short stories from Barry Hannah's fine new collection, the narrator discloses that in his "line of work you find at least one monster in every block. A sorry rule," he continues, "but one without which I wouldn't be necessary at all. There isn't hardly any kind of human ugliness can live by itself forever. It can't keep, it's got to leap out on parade. Then they call me."

Of course, this itinerant trumpeter and his muse--the vision of a floating, toasted French loaf mysteriously suspended en route to his elderly neighbor's mouth--is not the only character on call in the superbly crafted pages of Hannah's fiction: High Lonesome continues the wondrous parade of ugliness and neuroses we have come to expect from the author of Bats Out of Hell and Ray.

Hannah has commented that "it is up to the author to be a scientist of the word," and his most recent collection proceeds to fashion an astounding language that gives a grotesquely eloquent voice to even the most pathetic of voyeurs. Consider the meticulously deviant narrator of "Through Sunset into the Raccoon Night" who begs for "minor disasters," and whose idea of a good date is to cruise the highway in search of the perfect wreck. This closet capitalist eventually sees himself in his wife's impassioned consumerism when he returns home to find that his raccoon-friendly muscadine arbor has been usurped by an elaborate metal imitation. "But my raccoon, my arbor, my self!" he screams, while we try to decide whether we are laughing at or with him.
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Format: Paperback
One of many Mississippi writers to achieve high respect (at least by critics and peers) is Barry Hannah, author of eleven titles. His latest, High Lonesome, finds him reasserting himself as a master of the short story. The thirteen tragic and oddly funny tales range from "Get Some Young", in which an old shopkeeper and his wife become more than friends with an "almost too good-looking" boy, to "The Agony of T. Bandini", where the main trouble-maker is possibly a closeted homosexual and insists that "Everybody is just a collision." Hannah's style is as flashy as ever if not less brutal as his past work. His subject matter circles around eccentric oldsters, drunks, wannabe musicians, war vets, and wimpy geeks. At times it's like a southern Tom Robbins, which can sometimes not work, but mostly does. Barry Hannah does it again. And again. And again...
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