Synopses & Reviews
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
, Robert Olen Butler examined America through the unusual perspective of the eyes of Vietnamese postwar immigrants. Now, in his dazzling new book of stories, Had a Good Time
, he again explores America by finding artistic inspiration in an unlikely and fascinating place the backs of postcards from a bygone era.
For many years Butler has collected picture postcards from the early twentieth century not so much for the pictures on the front but for the messages written on the backs, little bits of the captured souls of people long since passed away. Only Robert Olen Butler, who has been called a "master of enveloping his reader in the consciousness of a character" (Boston Book Review), could use these brief messages of real people from another age to create fully imagined stories that speak to the universal human condition. From the hilarious "The Ironworkers' Hayride," where a young man named Milton dates a girl with a wooden leg, to 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 fifteen stories convey a complex and true vision of America and Americans that resonates profoundly into our own time.
Charged with sincerity, wit, and an eye into the stuff of human relationships, Had a Good Time gives us further proof that "Robert Olen Butler's literary genius is perhaps unequaled in scope" (Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
"Only Butler could have created Had a Good Time, a series of short stories entirely based on old postcards that the author has come across over the years. Its like reading short stories by a dozen different, immensely gifted authors." Jeff Guinn, Pittsburgh Tribune
"I would read a book like this by anyone, but Butlers an amazing storyteller, so its even better." Bill OSullivan, Cargo
"Scintillating, soulful, and surprising, Butler's virtuoso stories are deeply satisfying." Booklist
"Robert Olen Butler is the best living American writer, period." Fort Worth Morning Star
"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." Publishers Weekly
"[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
"Butler faultlessly captures the plainspoken, springy cadences of American speech a hundred years ago....Assured, accomplished, and another intriguing change of pace from an adventurous writer who refuses to be pigeonholed." Kirkus Reviews
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 two 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.