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The Lone Pilgrim: Stories
Laurie Colwin
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The Lone Pilgrim: Stories

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  479 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
A collection of stories about love and privacy that are serious, funny, tender, and alive with elegance and spirit. "Adroitly concocted."-- "New York Times Book Review"
Hardcover, 211 pages
Published February 12th 1981 by Alfred a Knopf (first published January 1st 1981)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
As soon as I finished this collection I wanted to go right back to the beginning and read it all over again. So I did. That's about the best endorsement I can think of for any book. Every one of the stories has something to offer in terms of humor and understated insight into human relationships. If you've ever known any potheads, you absolutely must read "The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing." It's the most perfect representation you'll ever find of the happy, harmless, dedicated dope smoke ...more
Katie H.
Apr 24, 2013 Katie H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been depressed since Laurie Colwin died tragically young. I discovered her when I came across Goodbye Without Leaving in an airport God knows where and from then on I couldn't get enough of her work. There's something about her voice. Hard to define but she writes about what it's like to be single and it felt more than familiar.

Laurie gave shape to the ordinary, to people you might glance at in passing but whose lives have tremendous meaning and challenges you will never be aware of. Readi
Jan 16, 2008 Pattie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Once upon a time, I was Professor Thorne Speizer's stoned wife..." Another classic first line, from one of the stories in Laurie Colwin's little jewelbox of short stories. About young people beginning to live on their own, I read it and loved it when I was young myself. Funny and sweet without being saccharine.
Terri Jacobson
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories that were written in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the references are dated and kind of fun to read--references to pay phones, smoking in offices and public places, slide rules. The stories are witty and well-written, and the characters are memorable. My favorite stories were "A Mythological Study" and "Saint Anthony and the Desert". I debated between 3 and 4 stars for this book and in actuality I would have liked to give it 3 1/2 stars ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Tricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent collection of short stories on a common theme: intelligent people navigating adult relationships and responsibilities. Sounds mundane, but Colwin has a gift of nailing external and internal dialogue.

My favorite of the bunch is "Saint Anthony of the Desert."
The opening line: "Haphazardness, as a condition of life, has its usefulness but is of fixed duration."

"My education was as hapless as my finances. As I conducted it, it suited me for nothing. I had been a cheerful student with a s
Apr 24, 2014 P. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get used to the fact that these were relatively happy stories. Colwin mainly works with telling and not showing, but when she puts in details they are very good. Because of this, the story that I'll probably remember the most is the one about the pothead wife of a professor, because it had the most dialogue.
Every once in a while I read a book and think: "How have I never read this author?!" Laurie Colwin is one such author. Just as when I read Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision, when I read the Lone Pilgrim, I instantly knew I was in the hands of a master, and just sat back and marveled at what she wrote. Every story is a love story, a heterosexual love story, often between people of the upper-class, and so these were not stories that screamed out to me as relate-able, but I loved every single one o ...more
Feb 27, 2010 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea how I missed this wonderful book of stories by an author whom I adore. In fact, I missed all three of her books of stories. The other two are on their way to me in the mail. I am sure I will devour them just as I devoured this one!

Colwin takes ordinary people and turns their stories into such interesting pieces. Her stories are all complete, and left me satisfied, the mark of a good short story writer.

Oct 31, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
It must take real skill to write a collection of love stories which (mostly) end happily and for them not to be overly sentimental or cloying, but Laurie Colwin makes it look effortless in these astute, intelligent and exquisitely written tales. Despite the 1970s New York and Boston settings, Colwin has (as I think has been noted before) much in common with Jane Austen, including her generosity of spirit and her wit, though Austen of course never wrote any hilarious stories about potheads! Anywa ...more
May 11, 2014 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Colwin is such a fantastic writer. I wish everyone read her books. In this short story collection she manages to do so much in twenty pages. We see people falling in love with each other, falling out of love with each other, discovering their true selves, and even declaring their passionate love for pot. The best part about her writing is that every character feels so real and relatable. I don't know how she does it but there are rarely villains and there is rarely a ton of action and yet ...more
Oct 05, 2008 Amelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing", is the best stoner housewife, faculty spouse short story ever.
Aug 06, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Colwin writes in an intimate personal manner; you feel you have an insight into her personality through her treatment of her characters. She is a connoisseur of life and people, in all their variations, and even when faced with less than likable traits, there is an acceptance. Life is nuanced and wouldn’t be nearly so interesting if we were all perfect angels.
I first read many of these stories in The New Yorker during my college years and the deceptively simple ease of her writing made me
Jun 24, 2009 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Normally I get annoyed with books that focus too heavily on romantic relationships, especially (and I realize it makes me sound like an uncultivated brute to admit this) when they're written by women and from the perspective of women. So here is a collection of short stories, each with a female protagonist and every last one of which is a sort of meditation on love. But Colwin, whose writing I'd never read before, kept me hooked through 13 stories (hardly a clunker in the bunch) that are filled ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm beginning to think I need to revise my "I hate short stories" position to an "I hate bad short stories, but I kind of like them if they're actually good. It's just that there are so many bad short stories, and Chekhov actually writes novellas. Boring novellas, but still."

These stories are actually short, which gives them a leg up on Chekhov. They're quickly paced/subduedly energetic in the way I'm beginning to expect all Laurie Colwin to be, and that's definitely more than acceptable. Nearly
Oct 13, 2010 Lesli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All of Colwin's books, several each of short stories and novels, are wonderful and I can't recommend them highly enough. I actually bought many of her books in hardcover, something rare for me! They are all about life and love in Manhattan. She has been described as having "very acute sensibilities," whatever those are and has also been compared to Jane Austen. Her first novel is Happy All the Time, which is about two couples who are related and are friends. My favorite book of short stories is ...more
Courtney Hamilton
May 06, 2014 Courtney Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
A heart-breaking, beautiful and astonishing collection of short stories. "Delia's Father" contains one of the most beautiful descriptions of childhood that I have ever read: "Children are a tribe, and childhood is their home. One false move and the tribe runs off without you, never to be found again." I miss Laurie Colwin and am very sad that we will never be able look forward to more of her beautiful work. ,
May 20, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
These are beautifully written short stories, though mostly lacking in plot - most of them are languid character sketches of intelligent New England women giving themselves permission to fall in love. You can imagine the reality show equivalent would be the opposite of "Real Housewives" - how about "Lifestyles of the Bored and Brilliant"? I'm gonna pitch that!
Jun 05, 2007 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people dealing with relationships
Typically, I don't like books of short stories. I did enjoy The Lone Pilgrim though, perhaps because the stories had several common themes, ie: New York City, falling in love, Love, Academic environments, which created a thread of similarity between the variety of characters and situations in the different stories. I'm not sure why the book is called the Lone Pilgrim for in all the stories the main character(s) end up in some kind of relationship and thus are not really alone. That being said th ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A Wonderful collection of short stories about love, disintegration of love, marriage, affairs. Not a single sucky story; all were winners.
Edie Folta
Aug 22, 2015 Edie Folta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title story is one of my all-time favorites. A great author for family, longing and good food!
Jan 26, 2016 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend introduced me to Laurie Colwn years ago. A rare talent.
May 08, 2016 Alycia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect Laurie Colwin. I hate that she makes adultery seem so wonderful and appealing but she does.
Dec 19, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the charmingly eccentric
Recommended to Kate by: Best American Short Stories, some years back
Shelves: short-stories
"Man's spatial relationship to the horse is one of the most confusing and deceptive in the world," I heard myself say. "You are either sitting on top of one, or standing underneath one, and therefore it is impossible to gauge in any meaningful way exactly how big a horse is in relationship to you. This is not," I added with fierce emphasis, "like a man inside a cathedral."

I then shut up. There was a long silence. I meditated on what I had said which was certainly the most interesting thing anyon
Aug 04, 2008 Rae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard one of Colwin's stories read on NPR's Selected Shorts. It was warm and funny and managed to make characters that I only knew for 30 pages seem real. This collection is filled with such stories. Colwin also wrote for Gourmet (see my entry for Home Cooking). Although she died in 1994 at a fairly young age, she wrote several more short story collections and novels as well as another food collection - all of which I look forward to reading.
Cassandra Marshall
This was recommended to me by a FB friend. It took awhile to read, mainly because these were such rich stories and I wanted to be able to live with some of these characters before moving on to the next story. I loved these women and saw some of myself in many of them. Wonder if anyone could write these characters now -- characters that exist utterly without irony.
Nov 10, 2010 Bebedough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been recommended by past professors and various connections for more than 10 years. I'm finally reading it. "Thirteen stories about women (mostly)...experiencing, often for the first time, the startling, enriching, demented complications of adult life." My initial opinion is favorable-it feels like a much needed recreational/summer read at winter's end.
Mar 07, 2008 Jaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually, I don't recall most of the stories in this book, but "The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing" is one of my favorite short stories of all time. It is hilarious and beautifully written - one of those stories that makes me want to call all my friends and read it aloud to them.

One of these days I'll get around to reading some of her other works.
" 'I came over here to claim you, if that's possible.' When I looked at him, I realized that I had never wanted anyone so much in my life, so I claimed him, too." pg 96

Laurie Colwin just gives everyone who reads her work unrealistic expectations about love, and yet I can't help but acknowledge it is still something lovely and worth looking for.
May 30, 2013 Cindypbarnard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second, possibly the third (is there a third?) book of short stories that I've read, by Ms Colwin. I am not, historically, much of a lover of short stories. That being said, I have LOVED every single Colwin short story that I have read. This collection is as good as ever. Please write more Ms Colwin!
Jul 26, 2012 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jen by: GG
I went to a reading of the author's work just after her death in 1992 and was sad that I'd only just heard about her. I remember Tony Randall was one of the readers. I picked up this book of her short stories at a used bookstore afterwards. She has a real down-to-earth approach to her writing, which I liked.
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500 Great Books B...: The Lone Pilgrim and Other Stories - Laurie Colwin 1 3 Jul 27, 2014 03:59PM  
  • The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers Workshop - 43 Stories, Recollections, & Essays on Iowa's Place in Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • Prizes: The Selected Stories
  • Through the Safety Net: Stories
  • Sweet Talk
  • Damn Love
  • The Nightingales of Troy: Stories of One Family's Century
  • The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue
  • Collected Stories
  • In the Land of Dreamy Dreams
  • The Collected Stories
  • Other Kinds
  • Hiding Out
  • Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine
  • Asleep in the Sun
  • Lucky Girls
  • Chase Us: Stories
  • In the Land of Men: Stories
  • Famous Fathers and Other Stories
Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels: Happy All the Time, Family Happiness, Goodbye Without Leaving, Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object, and A Big Storm Knocked It Over; three collections of short stories: Passion and Affect, Another Marvelous Thing, and The Lone Pilgrim; and two collections of essays: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. She died in 1992.
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