Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Local Souls” as Want to Read:
Local Souls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Local Souls

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  482 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Through memorable language and bawdy humor, Gurganus returns to his mythological Falls, North Carolina, home of Widow. This first work in a decade offers three novellas mirroring today’s face-lifted South, a zone revolutionized around freer sexuality, looser family ties, and superior telecommunications, yet it celebrates those locals who have chosen to stay local. In doing ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 23rd 2013 by Liveright
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 06, 2014 Rick rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Ugh. Could not finish even though I was 2/3 done. The author seemed more interested in impressing us with his ability to turn a phrase than he was with creating real characters or a story we could get into. I was impressed by his wordplay, so much in fact I could never get beyond it and into the story. Very slow and repetitive too.
Nov 13, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, novella
Local Souls published on September 23rd. I read a review copy so some of my comments may not reflect the finished work. My sincere thanks to Liveright, W.w. Norton Publishing for providing the e-galley and for Joe Foster of Edelweiss for his recommendation.

Rarely do I read reviews before formulating my own comments. In this case I wanted a bit of insight as I was having difficulty describing this read. I was totally enraptured by the whole but didn't know quite how to explain why or the book its
William Reichard
Jan 23, 2014 William Reichard rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to this collection of novellas. I love the novella form and it's not easy to find writers who can work well in the form. I'd never read Gurganus before, so I didn't know his style, his voice. I'd been told he was a very poetic prose writer. What I found, wading through the three pieces, was a style and voice that was irritating and too often self-consciously "stylish." The author's use of dialog was what tripped me up the most. I can't say if it is Gurganus' style to write ...more
This collection left me with many questions and wondering Why am I reading this? until I reached the third, and by far the longest, story, "Decoy". Here is where the author's agenda of "local souls" finally and truly hit home for me after the quirky and somewhat unsatisfying opening stories of "Fear Not" and "Saints Have Mothers". I should amend that to say that "Fear Not", while definitely quirky, was not as unsatisfying for me as the second story...but perhaps if I were the mother of a pretty ...more
Moira Crone
Jun 13, 2013 Moira Crone rated it it was amazing
Marvelous storytelling, compelling characters, beautiful language (its own, and it asks you to bring your whole self into the process of reading and understanding). Read this southern Book and be amazed at the possibility of prose to render for you whole, complete, contradictory and breathing people. The mother in Saints Have Mothers is one of the most fully portrayed women I have ever seen in fiction. "Decoy" is subtle, thorough, and full of every kind of longing. Completeness like this doesn't ...more
Amy Warrick
Jan 11, 2014 Amy Warrick rated it liked it

Three stars is too many, but two is too few.

Anyway. The southern voice with which Gurganus charmed me in 'Oldest yadda yadda widow' turned overdone and cloying here. It's like Reynolds Price' (Price's?) work; after a while you want to say just QUIT IT WITH THE SOUTHERN AUTHOR SHIT.

I only made it through two of the three novellas before calling it quits. The first novella left me kind of cold but the second, 'Saints Have Mothers' was adorable. Hence the three stars. Sentences like this one:
Oct 11, 2013 Alice rated it liked it
I liked this book a lot, but gave it only three stars. Here's why: In the first novella, I felt lost. I didn't understand the relationship of the couple at the high school play to the story that follows of FearNot and her eventual quest to find the baby she gave up for adoption. In the second novella, I found the resulting conflict between mother and daughter to be too over the top and the ending (which I won't give away) to be unbelievable. I did, however, find the mother character a hoot -- ve ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Eyehavenofilter rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, to-trade
I got this as an ARC and it neatly contains three odd and peculiar home town tales by the author of" The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All"... This time I think there's a bit too much... I found myself lagging through the 2nd and 3rd stories hoping they would end a little faster, but Allen Garganus is quite the tale weaver nonetheless.
the first story was heart wrenching, and every abandoned Childs dream come true.... and a little disturbing....the second,(saints have mothers) reminded me
Mary Dalton
Mar 15, 2015 Mary Dalton rated it it was amazing
I finished Local Souls this morning and immediately thought about posting something about it because I admire it so. Imagine my surprise when I came to the site and realized it's been such a long time since I've added a book to my shelf or written about one. Yes, I have read books in the last couple of years but (apparently) not one that moved me so much as this one because of Allan Gurganus's craft, insight, and authenticity. There are three novellas in Local Souls, and each one engaged me more ...more
Aug 04, 2013 Polly rated it it was amazing
loving it! A.G. is a MASTER of: inner dialogue, in perfect fragments, clipped the way we think, and irony, and dry (very) comedy. The (mostly ordinary, with a touch of quirkiness) characters' self-observations, without embarrassment, refresh each page. The sketches of someone or something - a string of words placed just so - with a tendency toward understatement, yield a perfect description with a hint of mystery. My brain yells "I want more!" like a kid who doesn't want their favorite story to ...more
RoseMary Achey
Oct 25, 2013 RoseMary Achey rated it it was amazing
Local Souls contains three novellas all unified by the small North Carolina town in which they are set. This is one of those rare novels that so expertly captures true human thought and emotion and is able to successful move it to the printed page. Local Souls is a book that both men and women will enjoy and would be a great book club selection.
Katherine Memory
Feb 27, 2015 Katherine Memory rated it really liked it
Allan Gurganus is an imaginative and Southern writer with an authentic voice. Don't let the sometimes quirky syntax keep you from reading "Local Souls!"
Nov 04, 2013 FrankH rated it liked it
Author of the 1980s best-seller, 'Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All', Allan Gurganus sets his new novella collection 'Local Souls' in the fictional, small farming community of Falls, North Carolina, (pop. 6803). The first two novellas barely reference the town itself, but in 'Decoy, the third and final novella in the set, we come to understand Falls has history and character.

For starters, it's in the 'Smoking Section' of the state where there are tobacco crops and old tobacco money stil
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Local Souls' consists of three separate stories concerning citizens of 'Falls, North Carolina', or in my mind, Fallen. Drowning incidents are set into motion, but not always directly from water even when water was peripherally instrumental in the character's unexpected detour down a previously invisible tributary. Respectable small town middle-class aspirations comfort everyone here in Falls, but when these characters slip beyond the white picket fences into dangerous rivers and lakes, they fin ...more
Robin Friedman
Oct 09, 2013 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing
The United States has been blessed with many southern writers who capture many aspects of the American South. Among the most recent of these writers is the North Carolina native Allan Gurganus who achieved fame with his 1989 novel "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All." After not publishing a book for over a decade, Gurganus has now published a collection of three novellas with the evocative title "Local Souls". As was "Confederate Widow", "Local Souls" is set in a fictitious town in easter ...more
Charlie Smith
Jan 01, 2014 Charlie Smith rated it really liked it
Here is my review as seen on my blog, HERE WE ARE GOING:

I never read "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All" nor any of Allan Gurganus' other novels, but I heard a discussion about "Local Souls"(CLICK HEREGurganus Local Souls FOR BOOK LINK) on NPR a while ago and thought it and Mr. Gurganus sounded interesting. I did nothing as funds were short at the time and I have that famous pile and storage unit full of books "to be read." But I then heard the in
Mar 20, 2014 Jeff rated it it was ok
I seem to be in the minority here, I noticed on Twitter a few weeks ago Maine's very own Stephen King praised this book effusively, but I did not feel any sense of awe or inspiration in this book. While it is true Gurganus can turn a phrase in an obviously special way that alone does not produce a story.

In this novella all three of the stories take place in The Falls a town in North Carolina. The town folks therefore are referred to as The Fallen and clearly this is of humor to the author.

In t
Mar 26, 2014 Enikő rated it it was ok
I am awarding this book a begrudging Two "It Was Okay" Stars. I picked it up because I had enjoyed Allan Guganus' Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. But this one just wasn't as good.

The book consists of three novellas, each set in the North Carolina town of Falls and narrated by a different person. The first centers around the mystery of a couple the narrator sits beside at a high school musical. The second about a mother who has to deal with the death by drowning of her teenage daughter
Nov 10, 2014 M. rated it liked it
"Local Souls" consists of three novellas set in the imaginary small town of Falls, North Carolina. As a reader who greatly enjoyed Gurganus's novel "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," I looked forward to this new book. There is much to enjoy. The three different narrators of these stories (a writer, a mother with an insufferable daughter, a man whose life intertwines with that of a revered doctor) speak in language that can veer from bleak to comic in an instant. Gurganus's feel for the ...more
Susan Emmet
Feb 18, 2014 Susan Emmet rated it really liked it
I've long loved Gurganus's work. "Local Souls" is a fine one.
Those who stay and those who leave, to return - or not - always a good question as to why.
Three novellas, each linked, with grace, grit, wit.
All set in the fictional Falls, NC, all three shine. Lord knows we're all The Fallen.
-Fear Not - what a story. The first interweaving of characters. "Everybody looks better singing, especially fifteen-year olds." What a tale.
-Saints Have Mothers - the story of a devoted- but- maybe- crazy- with- t
May 05, 2014 SooYoung rated it liked it
Local Souls is made up of three novellas -- Fear Not, Saints Have Mothers and Decoy. I don't read short stories/novellas very often and I'm never quite sure if I enjoy them. There's something dissatisfying about not getting the whole picture so to speak.

I liked Fear Not enough to keep reading. I liked Saints Have Mothers enough to keep reading. Then there was Decoy. I read some and stalled. I read some more and stalled. I only had about 20 pages left and stalled to finish it.

I wouldn't read Lo
Sep 15, 2016 Maineguide rated it liked it
Good book, but a bit slow--particularly las novella.
Maureen Laney
Oct 24, 2013 Maureen Laney rated it really liked it
This book is hard to rate because it's three novellas and, while I enjoyed all of them, one of them really stood out for me. All of them concern residents of a fictional town in North Carolina, and are written in a first-person voice. The first,"Fear Not", is an intriguing and entertaining story about a young woman, with a surprise revelation at the end. The third, "Decoy", is a study of the relationship between two men over the course of their lives. It's overlong in my opinion, and a bit crypt ...more
Timothy Juhl
I love Allan Gurganus. I think he's an incredible story-teller in the true Southern style of story-telling. And I wanted to love this book.

I heard him read from 'Local Souls' when it was published, and the segment he read was captivating, very Gurganus, but what the listener didn't know was you would wade through a hundred pages of character analysis to ever get to that singular moment in the third novella of this collection.

I've been reading 'Local Souls' off and on for months now, slogging thr
This review is difficult to write because the reasons to not like it are entirely accurate. By the end of the final novella, I realized the point of these stories was antithetical to most writing out there. The point of the style was the way these people live: slowly like the river named Lithium, which much thought to all possible interpretations of the point, and absorbing the completely unexpected into lives such as these, where the unexpected must be examined so as to explain at least why it ...more
Linda Hali
Apr 04, 2015 Linda Hali rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5, as this is three nice length novellas, related only by slim overlap, all set in the small faux town of Falls, N.Carolina, and the final one is dragging a bit. Although Gurganus is a writer of slow reveal and tall tales (you know Oldest Living Confederate is Widow is 5 star novel, and maybe the longest reading novel you will come across besides 100 Years of Solitude.)
Anyway- three very different stories, intimate, gossipy,condensed time, each with an ensemble of characters that are bel
Jun 18, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it
I review Richard Burgin’s Hide Island and Allan Gurganus’s Local Souls in the October 6, 2013 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In Burgin’s stories, no matter how despairing or desperate the character, there’s always a sense of life’s tragic-comic absurdity. As for Gurganus, the author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, says he’s "tried to write the funniest books possible about the worst things that can happen to people.”

Go to my blog and then to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Andy Harnish
Apr 30, 2014 Andy Harnish rated it it was amazing
Three powerful, voice-driven pieces wrestling with deep and sometimes mysterious, and sometimes shocking, longings. The second novella was probably my favorite, a hefty, southern 'woman upstairs,' but I loved the deft handling of taboo in the first piece, and the tour-de-force examination of duck decoys as art in the last. Duck decoys! Who would have thought? Yet here they stand as metaphors for a country doctor's talent, so admired by his quiet, closeted neighbor. That story too, so carefully ( ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Alistair rated it it was ok
Local Souls contains three longish novellas and all have the kernel of a good short story, however Gurganus pads his plots out to such an extent that this reader often longed for him to return to the principal narrative thread. In particular 'Saints have Mothers ' has a really interesting premise: the beloved daughter who can do no wrong - and indeed appears incapable of doing so, dies in a swimming accident in Africa (whilst performing good deeds for the locals), and it's fascinating to read ho ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Terry rated it it was ok
Recommended to Terry by: Ann Patchett
I have learned a lesson. Authors whose writing I love (Ann Patchett) do not necessarily have reading tastes that resemble mine. Local Souls reminded me of Stones for Ibarra in that the collected stories have a locale and not characters as the common thread, but Doerr's stories captured my attention far more deftly than Gurganus'. Every time I thought I had reached the "tipping point" of a story and would be swept to the finish, I found myself laboring uphill again. I can usually get past unsympa ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Children are Diamonds
  • Half the Kingdom
  • Beggars in Spain
  • A Day at the Beach: Recollections
  • I Want to Show You More
  • Lost Man's River
  • Subtle Bodies
  • Death of the Black-Haired Girl
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • Fra Keeler
  • Work Like Any Other
  • The Tongues of Angels
  • In Julia's Garden (Lily McGuire Mystery #1)
  • The Morels
  • Hill William
  • Firefly
  • Make Me Do Things
  • Dirty Love
Since 1989, Allan Gurganus’s novels, stories and essays have become a singularly unified and living body of work. Known for dark humor, erotic candor, pictorial clarity and folkloric sweep, his prose is widely translated. Gurganus’s stories, collected as “Piccoli eroi”, were just published to strong Italian reviews. France’s La Monde has called him “a Mark Twain for our age, hilariously clear-eyed ...more
More about Allan Gurganus...

Share This Book

“Unlike her, nothing had yet happened to him.” 1 likes
More quotes…