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White People Paperback – August 8, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the publication of this virtuoso collection, Gurganus ( Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All ) has again produced a book of literary merit that deserves wide readership. In 10 stories and two novellas written over the last two decades, we meet a delightful array of characters who share the common denominator of white skin, if little else. Narrated almost entirely in an astonishing range of first-person voices, this fiction displays the depth and breadth of Gurganus's skill as a gifted raconteur. In "Condolences to Every One of Us" a woman describes a disastrous African package tour that leads to the death of two tourists. "Breathing Room" is the story of a man who is overtaken by a once sickly younger brother. At age six, he "ached to simply arch right over him, to settle like a jar with air holes and enough floor space so he'd not be bored." But the story ends in a melancholy tone: "Bradley's thirty-four, and thriving; that makes me thirty-six." "America Competes" is a hilarious send-up of arts competitions. "Reassurance" is a delicate letter from the grave of a Civil War casualty that takes up at the final line of Walt Whitman's letter "Death of a Pennsylvania Soldier." The final piece, "Blessed Assurance," is a funny, sad, confessional tale told by a man reflecting on his traumatic youth, when he collected funeral insurance premiums from poor blacks. Gurganus is a champion storyteller with particularly American roots, in the tradition of Mark Twain. This is a collection to be savored and reread while we wait for more.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Gurganus's colorful collection of stories and novellas, written from the mid-Seventies to the late Eighties, is a fine follow-up to last year's best-selling novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All ( LJ 5/1/89). Many of the stories are personal, even dedicated to family members, and they have decidedly autobiographical overtones. "Minor Heroism" tells of a war-hero father's awkward relationship to his creative, sensitive son. In "Breathing Room," the older son watches as his once pale, asthmatic little brother eclipses him in size and strength. In "A Hog Loves Its Life," Grandfather tried to pass on some country wisdom to his bookish grandson. Gurganus has a fluid, humorous style that gently pokes fun at and yet honors his Southern roots. This is a poignant, entertaining collection. Recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/90.
-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704277
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terrific book, and a new "favorite author" find in Allan Gurganus. White People is a book of short stories, but they read like a novel made up of letters and memories of members of the same family. Indeed, the human family. Gorgeous stuff. I'll be rereading this set of stories again.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Each short story from the first about a young boy and his relationship with his father to the last,drain you of emotions. I laughed till I had to go to the bathroom and I cried till I embarrassed myself! This book does what a book is supposed to do. It moves you and makes you think without that being it's purpose.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book that exceeded my expectations. It is a collections of stories (four are different stories about one family; the others are not related to that family.) mostly about white people and their sometimes painful and just plain incompetently managed relationships. The characterizations are subtle and imaginative. There is one long story in the end that is about a relatively poor young man and his appalling but finally deeply respectful relations with some black people. this story blew me away by the subtlety of the relationships and the surprising outcomes.
This author is greatly underappreciated.
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Format: Paperback
These stories are great reading, and not as difficult as the
author's huge first novel, which I also read. The author likes to
conclude his stories with a surprise at the end, which seems to
always leave a lump in my throat. In at least two stories,
*Blessed Assurance* and *Reassurance*, this technique is
particularly effective. The preceding tales are worth the price
of the book. If you want to read the best of modern short
fiction, you can do a lot worse than this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is an amazing group of short stories, beautifully written, soulful, often with an edge, a tension, and so real. My favorite of them all is the last story. Many others captured me completely. A definite great.
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Format: Paperback
These are brilliant short stories with great plots, written by someone who must be the one of the world's keenest observers of all things human, poignant and funny.
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