The Pacific and Other Stories
It took me weeks to slog through this, and here's why: Helprin is so full of shit we'd mistake him for a latrine if he were painted white and dropped on a campground. Maybe I'm just falling into the same wrongheaded liberal trap that he accuses many of his reviewers of wallowing in, but this book feels--if not explicitly political--like an implicit piece of cultural commentary. It's a old-time conservative's wet dream: hon...more
Most of the stories, the best ones, deal with lost and finding hope in the lost. Those that are good are very powerful. Others, not so much.
When I actually started reading, it was a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, there are a few stories in the collection that are good - the one about the 9/11 widow and the contrac...more
This is a little book that contains some stories that are just perfect, but there's no appreciating the art that Helprin is constantly honing and perfecting here if you don't realize how much he si...more
I've read six of the sixteen stories here, and can go no further: Good God, but the man overwrites. His work has always suffered from a sentimental, self-consciously "literary" quality—he does love to wax on about the light, and about notions of honor, and he never settles for ten words where two hundred might be shoe-horned into a story. And, aside from the first 200 or so pages of Winter's Tale, he's always proven to be pretty much witless (in the sense of not being a...more
Helprin, author of Ellis Island and A Winter's Tale, brings to this collection his usual deep look into life, love, and war in prose as "glassy and smooth as amber" (Los Angeles Times). Yet, written over two decades, these stories befuddled a few critics. Some praised Helprin's wise themes, character studies, dazzling prose, and detailed descriptions of how things, like baseball, work. Most agreed, however, that Helprin paints overly broad generalizations when it comes to people: honorable, brav...more
The tales take place in various countries, cultures and ages. He voices the places and people so well, there seems to be an ornateness to them like fine art, it is subtle in its simplicity. You know that to make them appear so effortless there is hard...more
That said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more variet...more
“If you could see her…,” said Fitch.
“I saw her when we did the kitchen. She’s pretty. She’s beautiful. But she’s not that beautiful.”
“Yes, she is,” said Fitch. “She bears up, but I’ve never seen a more wounded, deeply aggrieved woman. It’s not because she’s physically beautiful. What the hell do I care? It’s because she needs something like this, from me, from us, from everyone. Not that...more
In other words, many of these stories—"Monday" is a prime example—read simply as illustrations, examples-in-action, of Helprin's predetermined intellectual and moral stances: Here is how hard work...more
How can you miss and in fact you can't miss with thoughtslike......
"I'm suggesting, although I know you would never be able to believe this, that what you have now, as you struggle, is something you may regret to lose."
I want only to spy the youthful graces they cannot see in themselves, and encourage them to do well and spend more time with their children than I spent with mine. They won't. I didn't. They can't.I couldn't....more
Much has been said about the beauty of Mark Helprin's stories and prose, so I won't say much more. Just that each story is a revelation of the beauty and meaning already contained in creation, for those who are willing to look for it, even just a little. This is one of those books that may actually change my life; Helprin urges us to be thankful for the richness we have already received, and to create beauty...more
Additionally, these stories pack an emotional wallop. A couple are so powerful they brought tears to my eyes.