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Three Famous Short Novels: Spotted Horses, Old Man, The Bear

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,170 ratings  ·  97 reviews
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” —William Faulkner

These short works offer three different approaches to Faulkner, each representative of his work as a whole. Spotted Horses is a hilarious account of a horse auction, and pits the “cold practicality” of women against the boyish folly of men. Old Man is something of an adve...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1940)
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Jul 22, 2009 smetchie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think hunters are assholes
Recommended to smetchie by: Newsweek
I only read "The Bear"(and only half of that) but goodreads doesn't have just "The Bear" alone, without "Spotted Horses" and "Old Man" and neither did the library so what can I do?

I adored the first half of "The Bear", which gave me a whole new perspective on hunting, but then it got all philosophical about the environment and I lost interest. Ironic since I picked this up based on it's inclusion on Newsweek's list of 50 books for our time and it made that list because of it's importance as an...more
Alec Sieber
Spotted Horses felt a little padded and boring, but had some amusing parts. Old Man was much more interesting, although admittedly a little rambling.

The Bear, however, is a goddam masterpiece, rightfully praised. It surely belongs in an elevated position along with the rest of Faulkner's great works. For the most part, Faulkner is working in familiar territory, evoking the death of his beloved South. However, I'm not sure if he ever hit this issue in such a direct or emotionally engaging manner...more
Reading these three novels was an interesting experience; there were times when I felt compelled to throw the book against the wall, and other times when I felt close to appreciating what it was that granted Faulkner the status his name enjoys. This was the first book of his I have read, and it took discipline to read the entire thing. He bends the rules of punctuation and seems to enjoy writing paragraphs that last 2-3 pages without break. At times it's beautiful; at other times it's infuriatin...more
I loved As I Lay Dying, alas these short stories did not grasp me the same way. It was hard to get through this book, almost as if trudging the same waters as the "Old Man". I appreciate Faulkner's skill. I feel one day I will appreciate the stories of this volume with more life experience on my part.

I tried reading for pleasure with this book and these stories require a mind ready to internally react to the action and characters. In short you need to be ready for participation in your reading....more
I gave up about halfway through the three novels. Perhaps I'm in A.D.D. or stupid mode, but the stories did not hold my attention. The words were lovely, if not convoluted, but my mind refused to latch on or pay attention to what was happening.
I'll try it again sometime. For now I'm moving on. Sigh. So much for trying to be more literary, I suppose.
It was interesting yet confusing, the way it jumped from past to middle to present. I did not know if or when he talking at age 10yrs or 16yrs or 80yrs old. I liked it very much and would mostly read it again.
Prasad GR
In my first reading of Faulkner, found him quite turgid. The narrative is absolutely intense. Now for his longer works..
Michelle Ogburn
Does the man understand the use of periods and paragraphs?
Tough to rate as it's a collection of three stories.

"Spotted Horses" feels very embryonic, with Faulkner spending the bulk of the story establishing characters and elaborating on the wild and untameable nature of the titular horses, as if in preparation for a larger story. However, after all of that set-up, he rushes through the brief second (and final) chapter with an uncharacteristically ham-handed bit of preaching on the vulnerability of poor, ignorant and uneducated folk in the rural South.

I have to put this down so many pages before finishing it. I don't know Faulkner's work, I don't know much about him but this writing makes me wonder if he dared to write a lot of it while intoxicated! Pages and pages of rambling madness in each of the three stories.
Spotted Horses is a humorous story of a con artist who fools a bunch of characters into buying horses they never wanted. It's madness.
Old Man may be a better story but the writing style is still frustrating! These were written in th...more
The rating here is, of course, arbitrary, as these are three entirely different stories.
Spotted horses: 1.5/5. It was strange. As if someone was just telling a jumble of a story with perhaps one or two instances of Faulkner's typical voice and style. It was altogether confusing in a bad way, and seemingly pointless.
Old man: 4/5. As always beautiful writing; I feel this is a great piece to start with to understand a little about his style. The plot is, though, a little overly linear -- not a bad...more
Bob Mustin
Faulkner's growth as a writer underpins these three novellas. Spotted Horses is something of a too-oblique storytelling mess, giving the reader more questions than answers to Faulkner's intentions. Old Man is doubtless Cormac McCarthy's inspiration for his later, apocalyptic novels, and here Faulkner seems to have come into his own as an impressionistic writer, his long detailed depiction of the convict's negotiation of the flooded river clearly intended to affect the reader emotionally, not int...more
"Courage and honor and pride, and pity and love of justice and of liberty. They all touch the heart, and what the heart holds to become truth, as far as we know truth."
The story of a boy, Isaac, who joins a hunting party for several summers, trying to kill Old Ben, an almost immortal and huge bear, a kind of a legend and a symbol of the power and the balance of nature. Seven times Isaac sees it, and once he forgives its life, forming a kind of unspoken tie with each other. Sam Fathers, a...more
Selected short stories
Though Faulkner writes about Mississipi and Yoknapatawpha, his own imaginary territory of 2400 Miles sq. with 15611 inhabitants, centered by Jefferson city, but I always see every single part of the world in his novels, where the characters are suffering of the situation which is imposed by visible and invisible powers, but they keep going on with life as they have no other possibilities ...
فالکنر در رمان "آبشالوم، آبشالوم" به "یوکناپاتوفا"، سرزمین خیالی اش در اطراف می سی س...more
My dad told me this story about when he was in the Navy, before he was married to mother, when he a few of his ship-mates were on leave somewhere in Europe. Naturally, they ended up in a bar, drinking and hitting on women and what-not. One of his buddies in particular scored big by attracting the attention of a tall, beautiful, blond girl. They hit it off pretty quick, and as one thing leads to another, they eventually find their way to a more secluded area of the bar. At this point, my dad says...more
Sarah Sammis
"Old Man" I've now read twice and neither time have I read it in its full context. The first time I read it, it was part of The Famous Short Novels which I read and released through BookCrossing but didn't review on this blog. I've since done some research on "Old Man" and have learned that it is actually part of a longer and more typical Faulkner novel, If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, consisting of two different but complimentary narratives: "The Wild Palms" and "Old Man". Some reviews say these t...more
"He cursed in a harsh steady unrepetitive stream, not at the living men who had put him where he was but at what he did not even know were pennames, did not even know were not actual men but merely the designations of shades who had written about shades."

The first story, "Spotted Horses" should be skipped, not bad, not good, completely unremarkable.
"Old Man" was my favorite of the three. In this tale of an escaped prisoner's trek across a flooded Mississippi, Faulkner employs his gift for descri

Charlie Goetsmann
Parts 1-3 of The Bear are excellent and complicated; I got emotionally invested. At first this was not the case. Faulkner’s fanatical descriptions of the Holy Church of the Woods and idolization of the bear were pesky, but eventually I came to care for the bear and the dog too, and more than that, the people involved. The first parts make a good coming of age novel, a character study. I liked how in Part 3, which seems like the culmination and climax and closing of Parts 1 and 2, the focus turns...more
I found Faulkner's style confounding and refreshing. It took a while to get used to his perpetual shifting of narrative, as every story seemed to contain countless other stories, some trivial and some crucial to the plot. That being said, I liked two of the three stories, and it had more to do with taste rather than disdain. I enjoyed 'Spotted Horses' and 'The Bear.' I found these stories to have enthralling subject matter, and thus I was better able to immerse and enjoy. The middle story, 'Old...more
Jade McDonough
So, clearly this is actually three separate novellas in one volume. So to break it down:

Spotted Horses is a comedic tale. Honestly, it fell a little flat for me. It dragged quite a bit, but as "slice of life" it wasn't entirely bad. 2/5

Old Man is at heart an adventure tale and a tale of struggling to survive when everything has been provided for you. There's a cautionary tale of how the prison system from time immemorial has only prepared prisoners to be prisoners. 3/5

The Bear is the real gem in...more
I only read Spotted Horses this time.

The story (novella? it's less than 100 pages in this version) doesn't have a lot of stylistic innovations that Faulkner features in his novels, although it does involve the Snopes family. In fact, it feels like a relatively slight, somewhat comic effort. That's certainly what the back cover description implies, for what it's worth.

While the story is funny, if it's comic it's pretty dark. It's the story of a seemingly prosperous huckster who comes to town and...more
classic lit. These took me more than one read to understand. That done, they were ok (though the third one really could've benefited from some editing/punctuation, I don't care if you ARE Wm. Faulkner.
I just finished Spotted Horses. Quite a step back in time when life was simpler and there was no internet, cell phone, computer, or skype. When was the last time one of us sat around the general store whittling or roda a horse or drove a buggy? Commonplace to the era, it is now part of the dusty past...This writing style reminded me of the story tradition of my grandfather and my father, over the dinner table or just for the fun of it, which both liked to do often. Now on to the next two. First...more
Brad Erickson
Faulkner is difficult to read. I read perhaps one short story in college and his novel "The Unvanquished" and enjoyed them. But what I have been reading lately is different. "Spotted Horses" was funny and engaging; "Old Man" was very good; but his great opus novella "The Bear" is fifty pages of interest, followed by another fifty of obscure dreck. Sure, they say you need to delve into and understand Faulkner's technique and what the symbolism of his language means. But I'm a middle-aged man who...more
John Jackson
I love Faulkner. I believe he was one of the greatest writers to ever walk the earth. These three, while quite good, are not able to surpass As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury. Like always, his descriptions put you directly into the action and into the characters. His people are as realistic as humanly possibly; you feel like you know them and understand them, that they're a part of you. The Bear is one of the toughest novels I've ever read to digest. You really have to pry the plot and th...more

Амьдралдаа анх удаа ном уншиж байгаа юм шиг л сайхан санагдлаа.
Ямар мундаг орчуулга вэ, дахин малгайгаа таны өмнө өргөн мэхийе, Г.А!

my love for william faulkner is confirmed. :) i loved these short stories because they all offered a different way to experience faulkner. spotted horses was by far the most entertaining and simple read from faulkner i've experienced. old man was interesting, understanding how much the prisoner desired to return to the safety of the prison yard was fascinating. my favor is reserved for the bear. this story felt like the faulkner i knew and loved. steam of consciousness, environmentalism, analyzi...more
Michael Kaplan
William Faulkner built his novelist life on Imaginary former US Indian territory and then peoples with southern citizens; 0ld Southern Aristocracy, Caucasians, negroes, a few of other bloodlines.
He wrote only 3 short Novels; one of which was 1st published in a hunting magazine Named The Bear. Another short Novel, Spotted Horses was a high school introduction to a Major American Novelist and the two novels were considered 'easier' for a
High School student. I took an America Lit course and you c...more
Love them all but The Bear is my favorite.
As someone who prides himself on being an advanced reader, I have to admit I struggled with some of THE BEAR-especially the the non-narrative sections which consist of stream of-consciousness styled memories and thoughts that ramble between time periods. I had wished Faulkner gave the reader more help with identifying the characters' relationship to each other. The genius of the Faulkner's prose was clearly discernible: the Biblical symbolism (From Eden to the Fall of Man) as well as the rich, p...more
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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.
The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as earl...more
More about William Faulkner...
The Sound and the Fury As I Lay Dying Light in August Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily

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