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The Pacific and Other Stories

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,010 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
At long last, almost ten years since his previous book, Mark Helprin returns with The Pacific and Other Stories, a collection of sixteen stories that display the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be his signature. A British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory; the 1958 New York Yankees gain an unexpected teammate in a puny, teenaged ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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Jeremy Purves
Jun 11, 2013 Jeremy Purves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I realize that there are other readers here who have commented on how Helprin overwrites or overdescribes things. But that is only a problem if you are in a hurry to get somewhere. It is not a problem if you are willing to stop, like Jacob Bayer, and ask why there is a need to hurry in the first place.

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
Stephen C.
Feb 13, 2008 Stephen C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a GREAT set of short stories. This guy is the best.
I could never say enough about the quality of these short stories. Helprin is the very best at this genre and these are the single best collectin of short stories I have ever read. His depection in Monday is incredible and in each story he captures the essence of the human condition. He takes us to the emotional seat of each person in each story and it is an amazing depiction and presentation by a writer of how we live and of who we are. I'd have to say this is the single best work you can read ...more
Oct 22, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I haven't finished this collection yet, but it's been a real revelation for me. I had only read Helprin's longer work before (I thought was good, but not amazing), and his traditionalist style isn't really my cup of tea. But these short stories are on another level entirely - great, moving stuff. I appreciate anyone who can write moving pieces in short form without playing the normal games. And the lines in some of these - the description of the mother in "Last Tea with the Armorers" comes to mi ...more
I had rather high hopes for this short story collection, The Pacific and Other Stories. Helprin’s manner is a kind of anachronistic old school seriousness leavened with mostly clean gags and jokes (though he’s not above profanity or vulgarity). Basically simple stories as simple morality tales, Good and Evil quite apparent and obvious. In this sense, Helprin, as a political conservative (he wrote speeches for the elder Bush), is also a cultural conservative of a certain decent kind.

Sometimes th
First off: I hate politicizing literature. But sometimes it's inescapable.

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
This is a pretty mixed bag, I must say. I couldn't finish some of the stories, but others just broke my heart they were so powerful. The determining factor - I don't really like baseball, but I love the story about baseball in this collection.

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.
May 04, 2011 CCC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this guy can WRITE!!! I've only read a few pages, and I'm hooked. And for some reason his photo amuses me no end. I would've guessed "stockbroker", rather than Amazingly Gifted Author"
May 24, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. These short stories were beautifully written. One of those books that you need to read slowly to savor. Some stories struck me more than others, but a beautiful compilation.
Megan O'Neill
When this book came up in my recommended list along with books that were obviously inspired by my love of Tim O'Brien's work, and my other wartime literature interests, I conjured up an idea about what it was going to be like. When I saw it in the library the very afternoon that I marked it a 'to-read,' I was thrilled.

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
Jan 16, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories, from veteran author and political commentator Mark Helprin, is notable for the overwhelming optimism and positivity expressed in each of the stories. Happy endings are not usually such an inevitability, especially in collections of short stories, and these tales are thus not only refreshing but perfect for rainy-day reading. The prose has a tendency to be a bit heavy handed, but is beautifully wrought.

That said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more variet
[Abandoned as of 3/30/09:]

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
Bookmarks Magazine

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

Jul 01, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me a very long time to read, but it was worth it. I enjoyed every word and every story. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates writing in the old-fashioned sense: think Conrad, Crane, Hemingway, but with a bit more modern lyricism. I think the reader also has to appreciate nature writing. No one I have come across can portray water and light like Helprin can. And both men and women can appreciate his plots, which range from war stories to human interest stories.

Aargh, Helprin. I think his best medium is the epic novel (see Winter's Tale) rather than the short story. The story doesn't give him enough room to sprawl out and bring a thousand grand threads together in an enormous pattern - his stories read like set pieces, long descriptive passages clipped out of longer works, or predictable fables of sacrifice or love or patriotism. They're like antique theater sets - you can tell from the first where each of them is going, and then the rest is just watch ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Abigail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Well-written, and the stories tend to be uplifting, which is rare.
". . . he had faith not in arguments, but in creation." -"Joseph Bayer and the Telephone"

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
Feb 01, 2010 cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helprin writes with a prose that is as full and scrumptious as a ripe fruit and as profoundly sweet or sour as he chooses it to be. Ranging a myriad of topics, Helprin paints with the colors of human emotion and experience, rendering exquisite little vignettes that dance as your eyes flit over them. High praise? Perhaps, but the beauty of Helprin's diction and imagery, the poignancy of his characters and stories, and the depth of his moral and philosophical pronouncements make this a wonderfully ...more
Bill Mutch
Apr 26, 2015 Bill Mutch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bill by: prior reads of author.
Mark Helprin is something of a fiction magician. In two previous novels ("A Winters Tale" and "A Soldier of the Great War" I've noticed that he can start a narrative firmly based in everyday reality, string the reader invisibly across normal boundaries of skepticism until, before your know it, you're firmly in the imaginary terrain of the impossibly fantastic...but so spellbound that you keep going. He can sure spin a yarn!
When I discovered this collection of short shorts and longer piec
Nov 02, 2012 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this collection of short stories. I deliberately read slowly to delay the inevitable conclusion of each story. In fact, they are each so beautifully written that you cannot or at least should not read quickly. The prose is not dense; it is simply gorgeously crafted whether Helprin is describing people, situations, or scenery.

Additionally, these stories pack an emotional wallop. A couple are so powerful they brought tears to my eyes.

HIGHLY recommend.
Jan 31, 2011 Lindsay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ayn Rand-ers, romantics
Recommended to Lindsay by: My brooklyn born Dad.
I tend to avoid literary Wes Andersons, writers who list their characters' idiosynchracies but do not address their souls. So I find Helprin's depth refreshing. He writes as if the anti-hero never happened. Irony was never invented. Of course to enjoy the stories you have to embrace a certain moral attitude, if only temporarily. Like watching a Steven Spielberg movies.
Renee Gao
The style of the book was very unique. For those who like to read a long complicated plot, this is probably not the book that you would find particularly interesting, but for me, I really enjoyed how each story (though various in length) were able to paint a complete picture using simply several pages. What attracted me was the title of the book, the Pacific, sounding so large, grand and big, but instead it is made up of a serious of short stories.

My favorite stories in the books were the "Il C
May 19, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love his writing. He has been criticized for over-writing but I enjoyed every word.
Apr 18, 2016 Hin-Tai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Stunned by the beauty of all this, Paulette and Lee were intent upon remembering, because they wanted what they saw to give them strength, and because they knew that should things not turn out the way they wanted, this would have to have been enough.'

I can see why some people dislike his writing; the stories aren't even in quality and the characters all seem the same (particularly within genders)... but I absolutely loved the first five stories, as well as 'Perfection', 'Jacob Bayer and the Tel
Edward Burton
Mark Helprin is a master. His book, A Soldier of the Great War was one of the best books I've ever read. This book is a collection of his short stories. Some were about Jewish rabbis and holocaust survivors making a new life for themselves, things of which I really cannot relate. But some of his stories involved soldiers and sailors, and beachfront life in the 1950's. I thought these were real gems. This is a good book for a beach or for sitting at a picnic table at a local park on a lazy aftern ...more
Lynne Favreau
Mar 16, 2012 Lynne Favreau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection is the most refined, graceful, and cultured group of short stories I’ve read. All are masterfully done, emotional without being overwrought; not an easy task when writing about the tragedy of September 11th, as he does in one story.

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
Feb 06, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone possessed of erudition, a love of language, and deep-seated conviction
Shelves: general-fiction
“Why?” Gustavo asked. And, when Fitch was not forthcoming, Gustavo commanded, “You’ve got to tell me why.”
“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
Joseph Durham
Aug 31, 2015 Joseph Durham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ON the recommendation of my niece, I have read this book. I have read other novels written by Mark Helprin: Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Freddy and Fredricka. Mark Helprin has the gift of all great authors: painting life with words. This selection of short stories encapsulates all facets of his creative inspiration; elegiac prose, use of hyperbole the reveal a certain truth, artful description of time and place that cause the reader to see life from a new perspective.
Oct 26, 2015 Skipr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love good short stories. Helprin's "The Pacific and Other Stories," is now one of my favorite collections. The diversity is incredible. There are stories about soldiers, opera talent agents, rabbis, teenagers, young women, old men, and more. There's hard-nosed realism in a story about a commando parachuting behind enemy lines and humorous magical realism in a story about a boy who survives the Holocaust, moves to New York City, and is sent by God to save Micky Mantle and the Yankees. And, the ...more
Jul 26, 2007 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Helprin's prose is clean and lucid, if occasionally too lavish for its ends, and I appreciate the dry, wry sense of humor in these stories. But all too often, the stories in The Pacific feel intellectually and even morally lazy. They are deliberately un-complex, presenting points without counterpoints.

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
Bill Flanagan
Jan 22, 2015 Bill Flanagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. These stories re-introduced me to the tender heart within Mark Helprin's voice. I've immensely enjoyed several of his earlier novels -- especially "Refiner's Fire", "A Soldier of the Great War", and "Memoir From Antproof Case" -- but have struggled with his two most recent novels. The short stories in this collection reminded me of his best work, the way he can write paragraph-length sentences that wander off and back again while still making sense, his eye for descriptive detail ...more
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Mark Helprin belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend. As many have observed and as Time Magazine has phrased it, “He lights his own way.” His three collections of short stories (A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Ellis Island and Other Stories, and The Pacific and Other Stories), six novels (Refiner's Fire, Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir From Antproof Case ...more
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“How the holy and the profane mix in the light of day and at the end of life is sometimes the most beautiful thing in this world and a compassionate entry into the next. After failure and defeat, a concentration upon certain beauties, though forever lost and unretrievable, can lift the wounded past roundedness and the dying past dying, protecting them with an image, still and bright, that will ride with them on their long ride, never to fade and never to retreat.” 1 likes
“The quality of Venice that accomplishes what religion so often cannot is that Venice has made peace with the waters. It is not merely pleasant that the sea flows through, grasping the city like tendrils of vine, and, depending upon the light, making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire, Citi s a brave acceptance of dissolution and an unflinching settlement with death. Though in Venice you may sit in courtyards of stone, and your heels may click up marble stairs, you cannot move without riding upon or crossing the waters that someday will carry you in dissolution to the sea.” 1 likes
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