The Fictioning Horror Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism



My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
  1. $24.50 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.50
List price: $15.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z
3 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

An Unfinished Life

by

An Unfinished Life Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Hailed by Kent Haruf as "one of the truest and most original new voices in American letters," Mark Spragg now tells the story of a complex, prodigal homecoming.

Jean Gilkyson, pregnant when her husband was killed, is raising their daughter, Griff, in an Iowa trailer house with yet another brutal boyfriend when she realizes this can't go on. But the only refuge available is a town in Wyoming where her loved ones are dead and her father-in-law wishes she was too. For a decade he has blamed her for his son's death, choosing to go on living himself largely because his oldest friend otherwise couldn't survive. Bound as close as brothers, they face old age on a faltering ranch, their interdependence even more acute after one was crippled and the other mauled by his own pain. Suddenly Griff meets this grandfather she'd never heard about, not to mention a black cowboy confined to the bunkhouse, and irrepressibly claims her new life in hopes of turning grievous loss and recrimination toward reconciliation and love.

Immediately compelling and constantly surprising, rich in character, landscape, and compassion, An Unfinished Life shows a novelist of extraordinary talents at the height of his power.

Review:

"An old rancher reluctantly takes in his daughter-in-law and granddaughter in this moving and well-crafted, if rather derivative, second novel by Spragg (The Fruit of Stone). Jean Gilkyson hasn't been back to her hometown of Ishawooa, Wyo., since her husband, Griffin, died in a car accident. Jean was driving, and Griffin's father, Einar, has never forgiven her for his son's death. Ten years and four boyfriends later, Jean has run out of money and options. With her precocious nine-year-old daughter, Griff, she escapes boyfriend number four, a smirking brute named Roy. Einar isn't happy to see mother or daughter, but Griff loves his log house and ranch life. She makes friends right away with Mitch, Einar's old Vietnam War buddy, who's been mauled by a grizzly and is horribly scarred, and gradually wins over her grandfather. Meanwhile, Jean is charming the town sheriff, which comes in handy when Roy tracks her down. Spragg's spare storytelling is rock solid, but he covers well-worn territory in language familiar to readers of Cormac McCarthy and Kent Haruf, never quite striking off on his own." Agent, Nancy Stauffer Cahoon. Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Spragg draws wonderful portraits....Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Each word counts for more than it says in this achingly beautiful story of courage and endurance. Spragg belongs in the same category with such tough-and-tender western writers as William Kittredge, Ivan Doig, and Larry Watson." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Mark Spragg invents characters that are as richly drawn and lovingly rendered as the landscape in which he sets them down. An Unfinished Life is honest, engaged, deeply satisfying, and full of an uncanny grace that resides both in the beauty of the language and in these valuable lives." Pam Houston

Review:

"Wyoming, its winds and distances, never quits. What a pleasure it is to watch a few of its hard-forged citizens stay with the task of forgiving, cherishing and caring for one another. Mark Spragg has got the territory dead right in this moving testimony to seeing things through." William Kittredge

Review:

"Mark Spragg's An Unfinished Life is a tremendously accomplished, elegantly written and paced tale of love and loss, the bonds of grief and blood, and the complex turnings of the human heart. This is a heartbreaking yet uplifting novel that is most deeply satisfying. These characters, these people, will remain with me a long, long time." Jeffrey Lent

Review:

"In Mark Spragg's An Unfinished Life the writing is of considerable grace and beauty, plus there's a compelling tale of the New West which at times is an uncomfortable page turner where you are standing on the sidelines rooting for your heartbreaking favorites." Jim Harrison

Review:

"An Unfinished Life is one of those rare offerings that successfully straddle the fence between popular and literary fiction." St. Petersburg Times

Review:

"For the most part, An Unfinished Life is predictable, and many of its thematic metaphors are too obvious. The message of forgiveness appears, sometimes not so subtly, on almost every page." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"...An Unfinished Life is what a good contemporary western should be: complex, human, fast-paced and highly attuned to the details of life and landscape that make the West what it is." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"[E]ven though the book takes place in the West, Spragg has expanded his impressive skills by giving us a book that will resonate with everyone from Laramie to Eau Claire and beyond." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"...Mark Spragg's novel An Unfinished Life moves from the pain of loss to the possibility of reconciliation, as a good Western should....An Unfinished Life's strength lies in its characters." Oregonian

Synopsis:

In an extraordinary tale of love and forgiveness, Mark Spragg brings us this novel of a complex, prodigal homecoming.

After escaping the last of a long string of abusive boyfriends, Jean Gilkyson and her ten-year-old daughter Griff have nowhere left to go. Nowhere except Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean's estranged father-in-law, Einar, still blames her for the death of his son. Though Einar isn't glad to see either of them, Griff falls in love with his sprawling ranch and quiet way of life, as she slowly gets to know his crippled old friend Mitch, the cats that lurk in the barn at milking time, and finally the grandfather she had lost for so many years. An emotionally charged story of hard-won friendship and reconciliation, An Unfinished Life shows a novelist of extraordinary talents in the fullness of his powers.

About the Author

Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, and The Fruit of Stone, a novel. Both were top-ten Book Sense selections and have been translated into seven languages. He lives in Cody, Wyoming.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

writeidahowriter, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by writeidahowriter)
A bitter-sweet Western flavored story--believable from the first page. So many people in this story overcome their challenges and their deeply ingrained anger to become heroic in their everyday way that the story is inspiring. It's not at all a surprise that Robert Redford chose to make a movie of it--a most unheralded movie I might add, but an excellant movie all the same. And, to repeat a cliched bit of critique--the book is better. Loved it.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
words917, March 17, 2009 (view all comments by words917)
As a student of literature and fiction writing, to say I read a lot is an understatement. However, I rarely get to immerse myself in a book without seeing it through my rather brutal, analytical lens. Fortunately, Spragg's beautifully rendered narrative just wouldn't have it. The raw humanity of each character and the compassion with which their stories are unfolded is stunning, and there is much to be learned from the tenderness and forgiveness, the open-hearted approach to life's most wounded, and the blessing of lasting love and friendship that Spragg mines to bring this story to the page. I can't say nearly enough of this generous novel, or share it with as many people as it deserves. I’ve already added Spragg's other work to my shelf. I can't wait.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Melissa Kinsey, June 27, 2007 (view all comments by Melissa Kinsey)
How do we honor people we have lost who have been important in our lives? Mark Spragg examines this question in the context of a moving story with memorable characters and smooth, comfortable writing. It's a question worth writing about and a book worth reading.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 25 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400076147
Author:
Spragg, Mark
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.12x5.24x.60 in. .48 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. My Sister's Keeper
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  2. Montana 1948 Used Hardcover $4.50
  3. Into the forest :a novel Used Book Club Paperback $5.95
  4. Light on Snow Used Trade Paper $4.50
  5. The Meadow
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  6. The Mermaid Chair
    Used Trade Paper $1.50

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

An Unfinished Life Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400076147 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "An old rancher reluctantly takes in his daughter-in-law and granddaughter in this moving and well-crafted, if rather derivative, second novel by Spragg (The Fruit of Stone). Jean Gilkyson hasn't been back to her hometown of Ishawooa, Wyo., since her husband, Griffin, died in a car accident. Jean was driving, and Griffin's father, Einar, has never forgiven her for his son's death. Ten years and four boyfriends later, Jean has run out of money and options. With her precocious nine-year-old daughter, Griff, she escapes boyfriend number four, a smirking brute named Roy. Einar isn't happy to see mother or daughter, but Griff loves his log house and ranch life. She makes friends right away with Mitch, Einar's old Vietnam War buddy, who's been mauled by a grizzly and is horribly scarred, and gradually wins over her grandfather. Meanwhile, Jean is charming the town sheriff, which comes in handy when Roy tracks her down. Spragg's spare storytelling is rock solid, but he covers well-worn territory in language familiar to readers of Cormac McCarthy and Kent Haruf, never quite striking off on his own." Agent, Nancy Stauffer Cahoon. Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Spragg draws wonderful portraits....Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Each word counts for more than it says in this achingly beautiful story of courage and endurance. Spragg belongs in the same category with such tough-and-tender western writers as William Kittredge, Ivan Doig, and Larry Watson."
"Review" by , "Mark Spragg invents characters that are as richly drawn and lovingly rendered as the landscape in which he sets them down. An Unfinished Life is honest, engaged, deeply satisfying, and full of an uncanny grace that resides both in the beauty of the language and in these valuable lives."
"Review" by , "Wyoming, its winds and distances, never quits. What a pleasure it is to watch a few of its hard-forged citizens stay with the task of forgiving, cherishing and caring for one another. Mark Spragg has got the territory dead right in this moving testimony to seeing things through."
"Review" by , "Mark Spragg's An Unfinished Life is a tremendously accomplished, elegantly written and paced tale of love and loss, the bonds of grief and blood, and the complex turnings of the human heart. This is a heartbreaking yet uplifting novel that is most deeply satisfying. These characters, these people, will remain with me a long, long time."
"Review" by , "In Mark Spragg's An Unfinished Life the writing is of considerable grace and beauty, plus there's a compelling tale of the New West which at times is an uncomfortable page turner where you are standing on the sidelines rooting for your heartbreaking favorites."
"Review" by , "An Unfinished Life is one of those rare offerings that successfully straddle the fence between popular and literary fiction."
"Review" by , "For the most part, An Unfinished Life is predictable, and many of its thematic metaphors are too obvious. The message of forgiveness appears, sometimes not so subtly, on almost every page."
"Review" by , "...An Unfinished Life is what a good contemporary western should be: complex, human, fast-paced and highly attuned to the details of life and landscape that make the West what it is."
"Review" by , "[E]ven though the book takes place in the West, Spragg has expanded his impressive skills by giving us a book that will resonate with everyone from Laramie to Eau Claire and beyond."
"Review" by , "...Mark Spragg's novel An Unfinished Life moves from the pain of loss to the possibility of reconciliation, as a good Western should....An Unfinished Life's strength lies in its characters."
"Synopsis" by , In an extraordinary tale of love and forgiveness, Mark Spragg brings us this novel of a complex, prodigal homecoming.

After escaping the last of a long string of abusive boyfriends, Jean Gilkyson and her ten-year-old daughter Griff have nowhere left to go. Nowhere except Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean's estranged father-in-law, Einar, still blames her for the death of his son. Though Einar isn't glad to see either of them, Griff falls in love with his sprawling ranch and quiet way of life, as she slowly gets to know his crippled old friend Mitch, the cats that lurk in the barn at milking time, and finally the grandfather she had lost for so many years. An emotionally charged story of hard-won friendship and reconciliation, An Unfinished Life shows a novelist of extraordinary talents in the fullness of his powers.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.