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This Will Be Difficult to Explain: And Other Stories

2.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  214 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In the Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning author Johanna Skibsrud’s new book, nine loosely connected and hypnotic stories introduce an unforgettable cast of characters. A young maid at a hotel in France encounters a man who asks to paint her portrait, only later discovering that the man is someone other than who she thinks. A divorced father, fearing estrangement from his thi ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published April 9th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published September 20th 2011)
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Bonnie Brody
This Will Be Difficult to Explain: And Other Stories is a slim volume of short stories by Johanna Skibsrud. As a lover of short stories, I was highly anticipating the reading of this book. However, I was quite disappointed. The stories are bland and boring, most of them without any perceptible essence to be gleaned. Some of the characters are in more than one of the stories though there is no real follow-through with their lives. Many of the stories are about small aspects of life that can lead ...more
May 05, 2012 Sandie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title of JOHANNA SKIBSRUND'S latest offering THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN is a more than fitting description of the quandary I am facing when it comes to reviewing this slim offering, The stories and narrative style resemble the path of a meandering river as it philosophically attempts to explore and analyze every abstract, microscopic thought and emotion experienced by a variety of characters that lead to their individual AH-HA moments. The only problem is that when those moments final ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads promo.

While I enjoyed the writing style of this book, it felt insubstantial in a couple of ways. First, there's just not much there. It's extremely short, and at the end of every story, it seemed like there was so much missing beyond the potential evident at the beginning. (Irrelevant, but as a layout designer, I couldn't help but notice the extremely wide margins, which probably helped to add bulk to the overall length of the book.)

***I won this book from Goodreads as a First Reads giveaway***

This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories by Johanna Skibsrud.

I was very excited to win an ARC of this novel by an award winning Canadian author.
This book is composed of a variety of short stories. Some characters appear in more than one chapter. They are slice of life stories and range in an assortment of characters and backgrounds. In each chapter the characters have an OMG type of moment where they realize that they knew
A somewhat dull stories you need to be in the right mood for.

Each of these stories focuses on just a regular day (or 2 or more) for a regular person. And most of the narration is the character thinking about things. Thoughts include the usual "the future never gets here, but how has 30 years gone by?"; to "even Paris becomes just a place to live and loses its allure" (I like this thought, because when I was 9 and we took a huge family road trip, I was amazed to find that Tennessee or Connecticut
Apr 20, 2012 Grace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book too melancholy for my liking, and the writing style in a couple of the stories made it difficult to follow (speaking of that, that would have made a better title for this book ~ This Will Be Difficult To Follow). After reading reviews about this book, and the fact that the author is a Giller Prize Award winner, I had high expectations. This book fell far flat in my opinion.
The title of this book should be "This Will Be Difficult to Near Impossible to Tolerate." bleccch
May 02, 2012 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. Pretentious nonsense.
Apr 14, 2012 Zara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of Johanna Skibsrud’s collection of stories is how I felt in describing it for this review. She’s that good of a writer. You can’t just slap on a few pretty adjectives, assess the narrative, the characters, the plot, and be done with it. Which is probably why I’ve delayed writing anything down about the book even though I finished it days ago. You need to take a step back. A big step.

Because what you think her story may be about will make you do a 360-degree turn for being as confident
May 28, 2012 J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This falls into the "didn't get it" category. I usually like short stories, but these just seemed like rambling and pointless descriptions of a moment in time. There was no story element (i.e plot development). And the moments created seemed dull and ordinary - nothing grabbed my imagination or provoked further thought. The saving grace is that it was short. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished to collection.

My favorite short stories link together in some way. These were advertised as lin
Sasha Boersma
Jun 20, 2015 Sasha Boersma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
The short story medium seems to constrain the author. She puts so much backstory to explain her characters and give the end of each story some sort of moment of epiphany that the character's slice of life lose the meaning/significance.

That said, the characters are interesting. It feels like many of the characters and settings are reused, which is ok, but the cohesiveness jumps around a bit.
Aug 22, 2013 Gill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2013
This Will Be Difficult to Explain is a series of short stories by Johanna Skibsrud. I picked it up while waiting in line at library and as I enjoy reading short stories I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I found it difficult to get through and a lot of the stories didn’t grab my attention. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

The story titled ‘The Electric Man’ I did find interesting. A girl working for the summer in a hotel is approached by one of the guests
Corinne Wasilewski
This collection of short stories is designed to be savoured. It will appeal to the reader who enjoys narrative, skillful use of language, and contemplations on abstract topics like time, love and the weariness of the familiar. It's a little thin in the action and plot department, however, and dare I say, a little dry. The narrators tended to frustrate me with their proper language, well-guarded emotions, and painstaking desire not to offend. I felt like a visitor who never makes it to the kitch ...more
Ivy Courtney
Although there were a few stories that I really liked the majority just seemed to either drag or be confusing. None of the stories felt too long and seemed to end at good points but I found myself having diffcult concentrating on the point of some of the stories
Luisa Fer
As I plough through Canadian Literature, opting for the most logical authors seemed a good idea. But when you don't know anything about the literary heritage of a country, sometimes I think it's better to see what is being written NOW and work your way back in time. I picked this book from the library because of the title and because I'm really trying to read more short fiction.
But I couldn't read much of it. I got to a page where the word "myself" was inserted almost in every sentence. I read
Victoria Caplinger
I received an advance ebook copy of this story collection on NetGalley.

These stories are quiet and understated - the epiphanies and moments of self-discovery are small - a father estranged from his daughter getting her to smile after she's gotten angry with him while he's teaching her to drive, a young woman living in France who forms a tentative and distant acquaintance with a painter as she sits for him. The language is largely unobtrusive, but the author did a good job in bringing the charact
Ann Douglas
I decided to read THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN after being intrigued with (but ultimately frustrated by) THE SENTIMENTALISTS.

The majority of the short stories in this collection fall flat. There simply isn't enough there to make for a compelling or memorable short story. (The three standouts in the collection are "Clarence," "Cleats," and "Angus' Bull.") What's more, the writing itself is challenging. Skibsrud writes in meandering, complex sentences. Sometimes you have to read through a sen
Jul 07, 2014 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought these were terribly dull. I wanted to like them and admired what I think she was trying to do but there just wasn't enough. Disappointing.
Stephanie Innes
I almost gave this two stars, but I did enjoy a few of the stories, particularly the first one about the young woman who is working in France.

Skibsrud's first book, The Sentimentalists, was beautiful, cerebral and poetic. These short stories are at times not comprehensible to me. The title story was extremely disturbing and I could not read it.

I am also disappointed that as a Canadian, Skibsrud did not set any of these stories in Canada. She has been compared to Alice Munro. Both are wonderful
Cassaundra Aunna
Aug 18, 2012 Cassaundra Aunna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a very good writer. It flows so well that it is very simple to read. My favorite story was not "This Will Be Difficult to Explain", but rather "The Electric Man". The entire time I was reading this short story, I just wanted to know who the man was. It wasn't until the end that I found the true identity, I will not give it up, or tell you on here, because the story touched me so much, that I don't want to spoil it for anyone else. Read the book. I promise you'll enjoy it.

I won thi
Matt Hunt
Jan 29, 2016 Matt Hunt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care for any of these stories.
Jun 06, 2015 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jul 07, 2016 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done
Very well written but did not enjoy so I returned it to the library without finishing. Open to reading other books by her in the future.
Not entirely sure why I persist in reading short stories, because for the most part I don't enjoy them. Rather tellingly, the ones I liked most were the stories that were connected by a character or place. Some of the others I didn't mind, some I did, but by and large I think I need a greater connection than a dozen or so pages permit in order to really enjoy a story.
Aug 29, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, first-reads
For the most part, these stories didn't really work for me, and their interrelatedness was tenuous. I often felt like I was reading something that was supposed to be deep, but it took too much effort to sort it out (maybe I read too many books for kids these days??). My favorite was the story "Clarence."

I received this book through a First Reads giveaway.
Sep 24, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short story lovers
Recommended to Paul by:
Johanna Skibsrud hits the nail on the head with this one. Each story kept me wanting more! It is almost cruel how well she brings her characters to life. If she can do this with short stories, a full novel should be simply outstanding!

I won this from Goodreads!
I liked this book, but had a heard time following the stories. They were all beautifully written, but I felt like I wasn't concentrating hard enough to fully understand the plot or point of most of them. I think I would need to read it again to fully appreciate it!
I gave up on this collection of short stories when I realized that not only did I have no idea what the point of the current story was, I didn't know the points of the stories gone before and in fact couldn't remember anything at all about them.
Cathy Simonds
I usually enjoy short story collections. Not this one. Found it boring and quite pretentious. The epiphany moments in her characters lives are pretty minor ones; to suggest they are worthy of further thought is ridiculous. Not for me.
May 16, 2012 Jackee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually burn through books (especially of this size) quite quickly. It's not that this is a slow read, but some stories failed to catch my interest. Some where awesome though. Just not my cup of tea.
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Johanna Skibsrud is the author of The Sentimentalists, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and This Will Be Difficult to Explain, as well as two poetry collections. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
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