Pilgrims

Pilgrims

Book - 1997
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Houghton
Elizabeth Gilbert's short stories roam from Wyoming to New York City, from Minnesota to Texas. With humor and dignity, Gilbert explores the revelations of diverse and memorable characters, each pursuing a singular American pilgrimage. A tough East Coast girl dares a western cowboy to run off into the Rocky Mountains with her. A family of Hungarian-immigrant magicians struggle for redemption in Pittsburgh. A dying old woman contentedly surveys her lifetime of promiscuity. On an impossible and tragic quest for honor, an ignorant laborer runs for president of his mafia-controlled union. Elizabeth Gilbert's writing is classical in narrative and magic in its clean, simple language. She evokes hard lives and hard individuals, always tempering their roughness with sympathy. Her stories are about strong people who demand their epiphanies. Gilbert writes with a fullness that is most evident whenever her characters try to chase down love. They are apt to make bad judgments (a matronly bar owner

Baker & Taylor
A short story collection follows the fortunes of a diverse group of characters on singularly American pilgrimages, including an East Coast girl who dares a cowboy to whisk her away to the Rocky Mountains

Baker
& Taylor

A short story collection written in a tough, dry style follows the fortunes of a diverse group of characters on singularly American pilgrimages, including an East Coast girl who dares a cowboy to whisk her away to the Rocky Mountains. A first collection.

Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997
ISBN: 9780395836231
0395836239
Characteristics: 210 p. ; 22 cm

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ksoles Oct 23, 2011

Who knew that, before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote narcissistic and cliche-filled memoirs, she debuted as a short fiction writer? Had I not read rave reviews of "Pilgrims," I would never have given it a chance. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm glad I did.

In the collection, a man shoots at flying pigeons to honor the memory of a boy's dead father. Another boy's embarrassment at his father's nursing career vanishes when one of his father's tricks of the trade comes in handy. A teamster from a wholesale vegetable market comes to terms with his lot in life while counting the windows of a fancy house in Connecticut. And a bus driver boards a load of passengers, each a lover from her promiscuous past.

Gilbert eschews the high and mighty, subtly favouring the working class. She stealthily moves through her stories neither moralizing nor patronizing and tells her characters' tales in their own words without fanfare but also without restraint. Some snappy dialogue, precision and a relaxed style highlight her competent craftsmanship.

But ultimately, the book contains rampant profanity, sexism and utterly unlikable characters. Stories have uninteresting plots, end in anticlimax and contain cringe-inducing figurative language: "She's sexy like a horse is sexy."

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