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People I Wanted to Be

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Gina Ochsner's award-winning, highly acclaimed stories have appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. In her eagerly anticipated new collection, Ochsner deftly examines the harrowing moments after a life or love slips away and discovers that the human heart can be large enough for anything.
A Russian couple come to accept the
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 11th 2005 by Mariner Books
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Such a beautiful collection of stories. There is an extraordinary amount of musicality in Gina's prose; her sentences, her words, just sing. Favorite stories: "How One Carries Another," "A Darkness Held," and "When The Dark Is Light Enough."
When I was little, I often fantasized about what my life would be like if I had been born Russian. Apparently Gina Ochsner also has an Eastern European soul.

Her characters are Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Czech. Little miracles follow them around like bees.

Her stories are magical, quirky and redeeming. Everybody gets their comeuppance and the world remains just as flawed and beautifully perfect as we suspected it might be.

I loved all of these stories, but especially the very first one,
Ruba AlTurki
مجموعة قصص قصيرة، كما أُذيعت على محطة اذاعة البي بي سي .
كل قصة لها سمة مختلفة وجو ووجود مختلف، ليست القصص بذاتها ما يعطيك ذاك الانطباع العميق الازرق ..الرمادي حتى.لكن بناء وتركيب الشخصيات ومحيطها فيه غرابة وتميز واختلاف.
Tammy Frederici
The title held such promise.
I am abandoning this book too. It is leaning towards a type of magical realism I do not relish.
Mark Oppenlander
I am somewhat conflicted about this book. Gina Ochsner is a supremely gifted writer and I really liked her previous collection of stories, "The Necessary Grace to Fall," a good deal. I also have a personal connection with her, having crossed paths with her when we were both English majors at George Fox University (née College) many many years ago. So I am rooting for her to be successful. However, I simply didn't connect with these stories as strongly as I did with those in the earlier volume.

You know that feeling when you're reading the works of a really good story-teller, the feeling that you're in good hands and are in for a real treat? Skepticism that slowly grows into trust, trust that grows into expectation, expectation that grows into anticipation?

Gina Ochsner is a good and successful example of discovery of a favorite author through recommendation. A friend recommended 'People I Wanted to Be' long ago, and I was sufficiently intrigued by the title alone to want to read it.

I like to read and support local fiction, so I picked up this collection of short stories by Oregon writer Gina Ochsner, her second. Her first one, The Necessary Grace to Fall, I have not read, but apparently it won the Oregon Book Award.

People I Wanted to Be didn't impress me much. Ochsner writes, usually in the first person, very clear, direct prose, with little flair for physical description, despite the fact many of her stories take place in Siberia and other desolate Eastern European locale
I forced my way through this hoping I'd come upon one or two redeeming stories to make it all worthwhile. In the end, a couple of stories stood out a bit but not enough to salvage the collection for me. The prose was lyrical but the stories themselves just too detached and depressing (and I like a good tragedy). Honestly I couldn't figure out why most of the main characters hadn't just killed themselves already, and why any of them would want to bring children into their world. And what was with ...more
stories of magic and tragedy and ghoulish Slavic stoicism in the face of absurdity and pain. mmmm
Largely set in Eastern Europe, this tragicomic short fiction collection explores grief, love, and faith through the fascinating genre of magical realism. Ghosts sneeze and animals speak. Broken hearts are hurled over fences. Drawings come rebelliously to life. These are but a few of the enchanting happenings that propel Ochsner’s characters into unforgettable quests for redemption. Many of these stories read like modern fables — and all of them thrum with the absurd beauty of the human imaginati ...more
Aug 04, 2008 Pam added it
Shelves: short-stories
GENRE/PUB DATE/# OF PGS: Short Stories/2005/204

FIRST LINES: From 1st story "Articles of Faith" The ghosts of the 3 children set up residence in the kataa next to the fishing rods & burlap sacks of potatoes, behind the shovels & rakes.


06/07/08 purchase @ Discount Book Gallery (Decatur) for August discussion. Well written, the 1st story was my favorite. Not sure who of these characters the author would like to
Gerry Wilson
These are terrific short stories by a gifted writer! Because of the settings--several of these stories are set in Russia or Latvia, or they have Eastern European cultural influences--I thought Ochsner must be of EE origin. Not so; she's just an incredibly gifted writer who loves to research other cultures and render them in her stories. Some stories are achingly sad and funny at the same time. Almost all have a touch of magical realism, which she handles with skill.
I liked the atmosphere that Ochsner created in her stories. You were never sure quite what was happening, what was real, what was not. And yet at no point did they spin off into realms of complete fantasy or horror. It was more as if she had peeled back the sheen of normality to expose the unusual that lies beneath everyday experiences.

I'd love to see what she could do with a novel.
Heather S. Jones
Oct 26, 2007 Heather S. Jones marked it as to-read
i discovered ochsner from the nyer and captured this from one of her stories, can't remember which one: " as evening tipped into night, the moon roiled about as if cast on a fishing line. . . though i already had an infant hangover threatening to cut its teeth, i kept on drinking." vivid images, i am always impressed by such evocative writing. i can't wait to read an entire piece.
Read first 3 stories before the library demanded it back. So magical and unsentimentally moving. "How One Carries Another" has an odd resonance with Kieslowski's "Double Life of Veronique"--the stranger leaving clues to a truth somehow inside of the self.
This book justifies my insistence of always reading a book through to the end. This book was a rough read until "When the Dark Is Light". From that point forward, the book was sooooo good it was worth all the torture that came before.
this book had its moments of beauty but everything was so poignent and sad that it became depressing. so in the end I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan.
This one gets a four as a way to say, no, it's not as good as Nec Grace. But that doesn't mean it isn't a 4.99...
Nov 07, 2013 Adrienne marked it as on-hold
actually this is one of my part reads books, all short stories but i'd to finish them and then review/rate....
Read this on the way to Houston
wonderful short-stories
Oct 10, 2007 Katy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
i couldn't read the whole thing and gave it away..
E. R
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Have a question for Gina Ochsner? 1 3 Feb 12, 2010 08:33AM  
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GINA OCHSNER is the author of two collections of short stories, People I Wanted to Be and The Necessary Grace to Fall, both of which won the Oregon Book Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Glimmer Train, and others. She is a recipient of the Flannery OConnor Award, the Ruth Hindman Foundation Prize, Guggenheim and NEA Grants, and the Raymond Carve ...more
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