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Labors of the Heart: Stories

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  28 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Set in the small towns and outlands of the American West, Claire Davis's fiction has been anthologized, published in our most respected literary magazines, and widely praised as some of the truest, most affecting prose about this region in decades. Labors of the Heart demonstrates the breadth of her talent, insight, and empathy. "Adultery" follows a middle-aged man who lea ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Picador (first published 2006)
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Samir Rawas Sarayji
This started out promising with well written prose on relationship stories. But 60 pages into the book, on the fourth story, I felt I was reading the same thing over and over. The style of writing and story construction is the same in each story and quickly becomes monotonous. It's so easy to read this passively without being engaged in the prose. The characters' situations are the focus here, leaving me completely detached from the characters themselves. Worst of all, the narrative drift betwee ...more
Oct 25, 2007 Marrie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Lorrie Moore
This is a stunning collection of short stories from a master of the form.

In Harold Bloom's opus on the Western canon, he considered the question of what makes a book great and concluded that it all comes down to strangeness. A great book always leaves a strange impression, and if it's strange, it will remain strange, no matter how many times you've read it. So it is with the collection. It catches you off-guard in that whimsical way of great storytelling.

In my mind, the only flaw that can be sa
A really gripping collection of short stories! Most of these stories are set out west (Montana, Idaho, etc.) and feature tough, weather-beaten characters who are shaken from their emotional complacency by an unexpected event in their lives. Davis's description of the setting is amazing; the mountains and lonely landscape almost become a character. While I enjoyed all of the stories, below are a description of my favorites.

In "Balance" a divorced couple seeks child custody mediation. The husband
I think it's probably the better part of valor to refrain from giving star ratings to books written by my professors, on the off-chance that someday I don't like one of 'em.

This is a fine collection of short stories. The conflicts and plots tend to arise organically out of character, out of the natural ebb and flow of relationships, aging, aspiration and frustration. Claire's relationships tend to have the texture and idiosyncracies of real things. However, that is not to say that these stories
Adam Colorado
My professor assigned the a story from this collection, during my freshman year. I found the story to be a breath of fresh air because it was an unconventional "romance" story.
Sarah Black
Graceful, lovely writing. The stories are a clear, quiet look into the heart of Western people, the hard-working, well-intentioned, kind and tired sort of people who make up the small town in the west. I think my favorite story was Trash, but several others came close.
Here's a line from Electric:"Sometimes you make mistakes, he thought. Sometimes you did the unthinkable, when what was called for was merely the remarkable."
These days short stories don't keep my interest (though they were my first love, when I was becoming a writer), but Claire Davis knocks me out.
Beautifully written with eloquent descriptions that drew me into the stories immediately. I especially liked "Tap" and "Balance".
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