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This title in other editions

Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards

by

Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For many years Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler has collected picture postcards from the early twentieth century — not so much for the pictures on the fronts but for the messages written on the backs, little bits of the captured souls of people long since passed away. Using these brief messages of real people from another age, Butler creates fully imagined stories that speak to the universal human condition. In "Up by Heart," a Tennessee miner is called upon to become a preacher, and then asked to complete an altogether more sinister task. In "The Ironworkers' Hayride," a young man named Milton embarks on a romantic adventure with a girl with a wooden leg. From the deeply moving "Carl and I," where a young wife writes a postcard in reply to a card from her husband who is dying of tuberculosis, to the eerily familiar "The One in White," where a newspaper reporter covers an incident of American military adventurism in a foreign land, these are intimate and fascinating glimpses into the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary age.

Review:

"After years of collecting early 20th-century postcards, Pulitzer Prize?winning author Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) takes 15 choice missives as inspiration for his latest volume of short stories &3151; an ambitious writing exercise that even in his assured hands yields mixed results. The stories range in tone and substance, from the humor of "The Ironworkers' Hayride," in which a man lusts for a sassy suffragette despite her wooden leg ("her mouth is a sweet painted butterfly"), to the melancholy of "Carl and I," about a woman who pines for her consumptive husband ("I breathe myself into my husband's life"). A few stories amount to little more than vignettes or reveries: in "No Chord of Music," a woman takes her husband's car for an empowering ride, and in "Sunday," an immigrant at Coney Island feels blessed to be in America. Other postcards trigger more fully realized stories. "Hurshel said he had the bible up by heart and was fixing to go preaching," reads the card Butler takes as his cue for "Up by Heart," a funny tale that addresses questions of faith and fundamentalism. "My dear gallie...am hugging my saddle horse. Best thing I have found in S.D. to hug," wrote a woman named Abba, inspiring Butler's poignant "Christmas 1910," which evokes the loneliness of a young woman homesteading on the Great Plains. Though many stories are as slight as the postcards themselves, the collection as a whole adds up to a thoughtful commentary on America at the dawn of a new century: while some Americans were buoyed by their confidence in technology and progress, others, at the mercy of a disease-ridden, hardscrabble existence, could trust only in their faith in God." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A wonderfully varied third collection from Pulitzer-winning Butler....Assured, accomplished, and another intriguing change of pace from an adventurous writer who refuses to be pigeonholed." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Fifteen gloriously imaginative and utterly hypnotizing short stories....Scintillating, soulful, and surprising." Booklist

Review:

"I'll never stop believing it: Robert Olen Butler is the best living American writer, period....[The] characters and situations absolutely sing in your mind as you read." Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Morning Star

Review:

"[Butler] chose fifteen postcards, breathed lives into the correspondents, and the result is a wonderful collection of stories that depicts American life after the turn of the twentieth century from a wide variety of perspectives." Jessica Murphy, Atlantic Monthly

Review:

"All of these stories are told in the first person, but Butler rarely settles for impressing us with his range of vocal effects....The author more than satisfies us with the book?s tonal variety and unexpected linkages." Thomas Mallon, Washington Post

Review:

"There is a great deal to admire in this collection?crisp writing, marvelous imaging, the discussion of large, existential questions that are as central to life now as they were a hundred years ago." Roland Merullo, Boston Globe

Review:

"All of the stories are short and such good company that we read them in an afternoon. What?s more, we had the feeling that Butler enjoyed them almost as much as we did." Arizona Republic

Review:

"Butler extends his reach once again....He crafts strong individual voices whose cadences and rhythms reflect the world these characters live in." Wendy Smith, Newsday

Review:

"[Butler] uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation. From their smudged, often enigmatic messages...evolve tales that capture the rugged promise of the brand-new 20th century." Connie Ogle, Tampa Tribune

Review:

"Butler?s...literary inspiration, and the strength and uniqueness of his narrative voice makes these tales as equally pleasurable and potentially award-winning as [his] first." Jennie A. Camp, Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Butler remains, unfortunately, a precious literary secret.... Had a Good Time is a legacy of supreme imagination, surely inimitable." Larry Swindell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Review:

"Butler?s imaginative re-animation of anonymous lives from the past is both entertaining and informative, an alternate history of forgotten souls." Regis Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Review:

"Butler throws his literary voice back in time to the early part of the American century in order to embody some of the great themes of the era. A nostalgic look backward, Had a Good Time has a little something for all tastes." Chris Watson, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Review:

"[Had a Good Time] makes for a juicy feast, full of memorable stories you will want to read slowly, not in bunches, but chewing them over one by one, discussing them with friends.? Alice Evans, The Oregonian

Review:

"Picture postcards offer an unusually fertile vantage point from which to examine the traditions and complications of American life. In these terrific new stories, he uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation." Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Butler is brilliant at shifting not only the fictional voices from story to story, but also each characters? disposition, attitudes and shapes of thought, fooling you into believing each one." Christian Martin, Bellingham Weekly (WA)

Review:

"Whether poignant or fiercely funny, Butler?s stories faithfully follow the lead of the long-dead, always taking great care not to dispel the mood created by the postcard?s author." Andrea Hoag, Star Tribune

Synopsis:

In his dazzling new book of stories, Butler explores America by finding artistic inspiration in an unlikely and fascinating place — the backs of postcards from the early 20th century.

About the Author

Robert Olen Butler is the author of ten novels and three collections of stories. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and a National Magazine Award in 2001 (both for fiction), he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and an NEA grant, as well as the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802142047
Author:
Butler, Robert Olen
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic
Author:
Butler, Robert Olen
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
FICTION / Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Publication Date:
July 10, 2005
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 12 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » World History » General

Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.75 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Grove Press - English 9780802142047 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "After years of collecting early 20th-century postcards, Pulitzer Prize?winning author Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) takes 15 choice missives as inspiration for his latest volume of short stories &3151; an ambitious writing exercise that even in his assured hands yields mixed results. The stories range in tone and substance, from the humor of "The Ironworkers' Hayride," in which a man lusts for a sassy suffragette despite her wooden leg ("her mouth is a sweet painted butterfly"), to the melancholy of "Carl and I," about a woman who pines for her consumptive husband ("I breathe myself into my husband's life"). A few stories amount to little more than vignettes or reveries: in "No Chord of Music," a woman takes her husband's car for an empowering ride, and in "Sunday," an immigrant at Coney Island feels blessed to be in America. Other postcards trigger more fully realized stories. "Hurshel said he had the bible up by heart and was fixing to go preaching," reads the card Butler takes as his cue for "Up by Heart," a funny tale that addresses questions of faith and fundamentalism. "My dear gallie...am hugging my saddle horse. Best thing I have found in S.D. to hug," wrote a woman named Abba, inspiring Butler's poignant "Christmas 1910," which evokes the loneliness of a young woman homesteading on the Great Plains. Though many stories are as slight as the postcards themselves, the collection as a whole adds up to a thoughtful commentary on America at the dawn of a new century: while some Americans were buoyed by their confidence in technology and progress, others, at the mercy of a disease-ridden, hardscrabble existence, could trust only in their faith in God." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "A wonderfully varied third collection from Pulitzer-winning Butler....Assured, accomplished, and another intriguing change of pace from an adventurous writer who refuses to be pigeonholed."
"Review" by , "Fifteen gloriously imaginative and utterly hypnotizing short stories....Scintillating, soulful, and surprising."
"Review" by , "I'll never stop believing it: Robert Olen Butler is the best living American writer, period....[The] characters and situations absolutely sing in your mind as you read."
"Review" by , "[Butler] chose fifteen postcards, breathed lives into the correspondents, and the result is a wonderful collection of stories that depicts American life after the turn of the twentieth century from a wide variety of perspectives."
"Review" by , "All of these stories are told in the first person, but Butler rarely settles for impressing us with his range of vocal effects....The author more than satisfies us with the book?s tonal variety and unexpected linkages."
"Review" by , "There is a great deal to admire in this collection?crisp writing, marvelous imaging, the discussion of large, existential questions that are as central to life now as they were a hundred years ago."
"Review" by , "All of the stories are short and such good company that we read them in an afternoon. What?s more, we had the feeling that Butler enjoyed them almost as much as we did."
"Review" by , "Butler extends his reach once again....He crafts strong individual voices whose cadences and rhythms reflect the world these characters live in."
"Review" by , "[Butler] uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation. From their smudged, often enigmatic messages...evolve tales that capture the rugged promise of the brand-new 20th century."
"Review" by , "Butler?s...literary inspiration, and the strength and uniqueness of his narrative voice makes these tales as equally pleasurable and potentially award-winning as [his] first."
"Review" by , "Butler remains, unfortunately, a precious literary secret.... Had a Good Time is a legacy of supreme imagination, surely inimitable."
"Review" by , "Butler?s imaginative re-animation of anonymous lives from the past is both entertaining and informative, an alternate history of forgotten souls."
"Review" by , "Butler throws his literary voice back in time to the early part of the American century in order to embody some of the great themes of the era. A nostalgic look backward, Had a Good Time has a little something for all tastes."
"Review" by , "[Had a Good Time] makes for a juicy feast, full of memorable stories you will want to read slowly, not in bunches, but chewing them over one by one, discussing them with friends.?
"Review" by , "Picture postcards offer an unusually fertile vantage point from which to examine the traditions and complications of American life. In these terrific new stories, he uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation."
"Review" by , "Butler is brilliant at shifting not only the fictional voices from story to story, but also each characters? disposition, attitudes and shapes of thought, fooling you into believing each one."
"Review" by , "Whether poignant or fiercely funny, Butler?s stories faithfully follow the lead of the long-dead, always taking great care not to dispel the mood created by the postcard?s author."
"Synopsis" by , In his dazzling new book of stories, Butler explores America by finding artistic inspiration in an unlikely and fascinating place — the backs of postcards from the early 20th century.
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