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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Local Souls Hardcover – September 23, 2013

3.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gurganus returns to Falls, N.C., the setting of his Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, with this trio of linked novellas. "Fear Not" subjects a smalltown golden girl to horrific loss, an unplanned pregnancy, and a lifetime of wondering about the fate of her baby. The protagonist of "Saints Have Mothers" reluctantly sees her luminous, gifted daughter off on a global adventure, and has her worst fears realized. As she handles her own grief and the unfolding spectacle of Falls's collective mourning, Gurganus ratchets up the inner keening and deftly balances it with a certain sense of escalating absurdity. In "Decoy," a family history gets spun out as a backdrop to the retirement of the town's senior physician, a friend and confidant to the narrator, Bill Mabry, who still sees himself as a bit of an interloper in the country club set. "He knew so much. And about us! Our septic innards, our secret chin-lifts, our actual alcohol intake in liters-per-day." But as Dr. Roper leaves his medical role, Mabry's sense of loss gets sharper as the two men grow more remote from each other. In these layered, often funny narratives, close reading is rewarded as Gurganus exposes humanity as a strange species. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Sept.)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gurganus revisits the North Carolina town of Falls, where he situated his roundly applauded first novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1989). His return to Falls is manifested in three novellas. Gurganus has never been a modest stylist. He favors, in concert with many of his fellow southerners, vivid language, provocative sentence structure, and metaphors that elevate the reader’s consciousness. He also shares with his southern cohorts a delight in discovering the quotidian within lives led under extraordinary, even bizarre circumstances. In the disturbing “Fear Not,” the male narrator attends the high-school theatrical performance of his teenage godson, accompanied by his godson’s mother. An interesting couple sits near them, and later, armed with the couple’s names, the narrator embarks on learning their story, which involves the many-years-later seeking of a child given up at birth. “Saints Have Mothers” is the slyest of the trio, a sardonic look at celebrity as a girl from Falls becomes famous for having disappeared. “Decoy,” the longest of the three, chronicles the friendship of two men from different sides of town in a meandering tale that eventually sharpens into a moving treatment of social aspiration. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Gurganus will be enjoying an extensive author tour and print and broadcast interviews, and the publisher will engage in a library marketing campaign. --Brad Hooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; First Edition edition (September 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087140379X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871403797
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rick R. Reed VINE VOICE on January 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book and I think I would have if I could have just gotten to the stories buried beneath the painfully overwrought prose. It seems that Gurganus forgot about writing about real human beings and lifting a reader off the page with simple imagery and real emotion. Instead it seems he wants to impress us with his ability to cleverly turn a phrase. I don't read to be impressed; I read to be entertained and enlightened. This book, sadly, did neither.
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This collection left me with many questions and wondering Why am I reading this? until I reached the third, and by far the longest, story, "Decoy". Here is where the author's agenda of "local souls" finally and truly hit home for me after the quirky and somewhat unsatisfying opening stories of "Fear Not" and "Saints Have Mothers". I should amend that to say that "Fear Not", while definitely quirky, was not as unsatisfying for me as the second story...but perhaps if I were the mother of a pretty perfect teenage daughter I'd be better able to relate.

As for the final story, it exists on many levels of family, friendship, community, pseudo-community (the artifice we build up around ourselves and call our life). It runs from childhood to old age and deals with all manner of life events in many ways as Bill Mabrey (Jr) contemplates the life he has been (lucky) to have due to the rather odd luck of his father.

Gurganus shows a very fertile imagination and writing style, much of which I appreciated but some of which was a little beyond my interest. I am interested in trying him again as I found his voice in "Decoy"to be so compelling.

3.5*
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As a huge fan of Allan Gurganus, I have been checking on Amazon every few weeks for the past several years, hoping he would publish another book, so I was very excited to pre-order this one. Today, I finally finished it. There were several times along the way I thought about stopping, but I wanted to see if it got better. It didn't. It's repetitive, really repetitive, really, really repetitive. I kept thinking, "Yeah, you said that in the last chapter, and a few chapters ago." I thought about just not writing a review of this since I love his other books so much, but I decided to write one anyway; if for nothing else, just to tell readers to purchase his other books and to avoid this one. All of his other books are terrific.
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The "Local Souls" in Allan Gurganus's eponymous book title are the residents of a North Carolina town, population about 6,000. The town of "Falls, North Carolina" - featured in the one short story and two longer ones - is a relatively upscale village, particularly in the River Front section, where most of the stories take place. The residents - the "local souls" - weave in and out of the stories, but each story tends to feature it's own main characters and plot. Gurganus has a drawn map of the River Front area of Falls in both the front and back of the book, which features the main places he refers to in his stories.

And what stories they are. From the first story about a sleek family of four who have moved to the town and set the locals to talking to the middle one about a hurting family who has lost a daughter in Africa to the final one about the town's doctor and his influence on his friends and patients both during his 40 year practice and subsequent retirement, Gurganus just blows away the reader with his powerful writing. A bit like "Our Town", the residents of Falls, NC give up their secrets and their dreams in a wealth of terse writing that brings both the characters and the place to life. I guess if I have to have a "favorite" story, I'd reluctantly point to the final story - the longest - about the doctor and the town he served faithfully.

The story has two main characters - the narrator, Bill Mabry - and his doctor, "Doc" Roper. Roper, the blessed son of a socially prominent-but-poor town family, has returned to Falls in the 1950's after graduating from Yale Medical School He sets up a practice - becoming legendary in his treatment of townsfolk, both rich and poor. He diagnoses young Billy Mabry's heart condition, inherited from his father and grandfather.
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As much as I love Alan Gurganus for the most part (White People and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All tops the list), I forced myself to slog through this one, hoping it would pick up (his descriptions, however, remain quite witty and wonderful). And I never quite grasped the concept: Was I looking at different aspects of one town through the eyes of different characters? Was I following the lineage of one family? Very confusing.
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How lucky for those of us readers who like fine storytelling and adore the work of Allan Gurganus-- in this instance they are one and the same-- that this fine writer, at the height of his powers, has finally published a book after so many years for us left in the literary wilderness. (I believe PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS may have been his previous last book, the best novel I have ever read on the AIDS epidemic that I keep meaning to reread.) As I read the three novellas in LOCAL SOULS, I kept thinking that the old and tired-but-true telling of a good story still works, and that is not to say that these characters are not as complex and fleshed-out as you could hope for. We know dozens of facts about each of them. We can both see and smell them; furthermore, Mr. Gurganus is a genius at introducing a character for a page or so, then leaving that person alone; but you have a completely vivid picture of them. One example from the last story "Decoy" is the narrator's wife's college roommate Kaye. "She's come fresh from divorce court again, her newest face-lift mended upward unevenly."

The three stories "Fear Not," "Saints Have Mothers" and "Decoy" are so totally different but also have much in common. (See the following paragraph.) The first hits you in the stomach with the surprise twist in the plot that sets you back on your heels. It is more the descendant of Poe's fiction than Flannery O'Connor's. "Saints Have Mothers" looks at the complex competitive relationship between a mother and a daughter with a plot that never slows down. In "Decoy," the longest narrative stretching to around 150 pages, Mr.
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