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The Fruit of Stone

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  428 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Mark Spragg's much-anticipated fiction debut is the story of the lifelong friendship between two men and their love for one woman who eludes them. When she leaves her husband for a new life, the two men follow her on a journey across the American West that forces truths and tests the extremes of love and loyalty.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Riverhead Trade (first published 2002)
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Aug 28, 2008 Brenda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
For the record, I am a big Mark Spragg fan. I would start a Mark Spragg fan club if I didn't secretly dream of being friends with him and I don't think that can happen if he sees me as some groupie who sends out a newsletter with gushy words and candid photos taken while stalking him at his ranch.

The man can write. And his characters are so real, so authentic to the places where they are. He has the "author" eye for situations and settings. You know that you could go out to a bar for a beer wit
Steve Fox
Jul 06, 2013 Steve Fox rated it it was amazing
In this novel the landscape of Wyoming and Yellowstone is like the inner landscape of the characters. Two men love a woman from their teen years to their 60s. A horse and a dog accompany them on a quest for the woman, Gretchen. Mark Spragg breathes their breaths, feels their aches. He's an exceptional writer.
Aaron Kier
Feb 02, 2015 Aaron Kier rated it it was amazing
Mark Spragg is an extraordinary craftsman, which is not only about fine details and subtle nuances, but about finding joy (and exercising patience) in the journey, rather than focusing on the arrival at one's destination. So, perhaps he isn't a writer for everyone. This novel doesn't "grab" you; its story and characters slowly get under your skin and infect you. There is nothing "larger than life" about it -- it's gritty and human, flaws and all. Spragg's exquisite prose (which might distract an ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Jeanette rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Do not take the 2 star rating in vetting your choice to read it or not. Because many others loved the mood and the placements, AND the story line.

I've abandoned quite early, something I rarely, rarely do. It's over the top flowery and the writing style one in which I just can't go on. Is it an adjective or an adverb waterfall? Or more a projectile run on sentence syndrome? Both, for me. To some who love more is more and/or a romantic and emotive base motive in the male pattern consciousness- yo
Garlan ✌
This is definitely one of the best books I've read this year. Spragg tells the story of Barnum McEban and his best friend Bennett as they follow the woman they both love across the Rocky Mountain west. Along the way, we discover their childhood background and the things that have shaped their adult lives. Its a story of love, friendship, betrayal and forgiveness. Spragg's descriptions of the west are filled with lyrical prose while his dialogue is taut and spare. The contrast makes for a real, g ...more
May 15, 2013 Gloria rated it really liked it
This was the first book I've read by Spragg and I have to say I'm glad I stumbled across his work.

It wouldn't seemingly make much sense to say this book isn't overly dramatic, yet dramatic events happen within its pages.

I guess his style just struck me as very ... normal. Very everyday. Very human. Things which might happen to any one of us. Thoughts we might think. Dreams we might have.
And yet it's beyond "everyday," in that his descriptions catapult you into the pages to see, smell, hear, tast
Mark Soone
May 15, 2012 Mark Soone rated it it was ok
Wow, I am not sure even what to say about this one? I know Spragg writes non-fiction and my hope is that he reverts back to that forum (sorry if that bothers anyone).

The writing style seemed way to forced in the way he would try and give flowery descriptions to every single mundane facet of life. I had kinda hoped that these would cease after the beggining, but they never seemed to. I am not sure if he was trying to add a poetic type of prose to his descriptions but I soon wearied of them (actua
Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it
I rated this a 4.5 and then rounded down to 4 stars. The book is a good read, but it should probably come with instructions: "Some Assembly Required." It's structured as a kind of picaresque novel, two men in a pickup (with a horse and a dog) traveling over Wyoming and some other western states in pursuit of a wife who has left home. Along the way, they are joined by a young Native American woman and a boy. This story is intercut with flashbacks to the boyhood and early youth of one of the men. ...more
Sara Foster
Aug 11, 2010 Sara Foster rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sara by: Anise Herod
Recommended by Anise and reading for book club OTHERWISE I wouldn't be reading it.

If you enjoy sentences like, "The Bighorns rise beyond the ranch to the west. Their palisades of limestone and granite shimmer, opalescent in the dawn, reflective as thousand-foot stands of pearled glare", then you should rush out and grab this book! I do not enjoy sentences like those and this book is full of them. It's either going to be a long read or a very quick skim.

After reading...
Very difficult to rate thi
Amanda Patterson
Nov 16, 2010 Amanda Patterson rated it it was ok
You’ll either love or hate this novel.

Mark Spragg is a writer of non-fiction and I think he should stick to it. The Fruit of Stone reads like a prententious travelogue.

Spragg’s characters aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. They are thin and annoying and self-indulgent. This book is written poetically but someone needs to tell Spragg that characters drive a story. I did, however, have an appreciation for the vistas and moods of the landscapes they traveled.

This novel is set in Valentine,
Aug 28, 2007 Erin rated it liked it
I got totally wrapped up in this book, and the main reason is that McEban, the main character is just so sympathetic, in such a heart-breaking place in his life. He's simultaneously remarkably wise and completely confounded by people and where his life has ended up. I love that the book places the events of his childhood and early adulthood against the events happening currently. So much depth is added to his character in that way. I love the descriptions of the Wyoming countryside, and how you ...more
Jul 15, 2013 Bonnie rated it did not like it
What a depressing book. The whole thing had to do with desertion, death and dead people. All the male characters are either so stoic that they lose the woman they love, or they are violent and out of control. The women have enough sense to leave the men.

I never developed empathy for the main characters - a rarity for me.

Maybe the book is written in different fonts or chapters to differentiate the main character's childhood from the time frame when he is about 40. But, in the audiobook, the stor
Aug 23, 2012 PattyMacDotComma rated it really liked it
I usually get bogged down in flowery language, but I enjoyed Spragg's descriptions - they were believable to me. Perhaps the fact that I am familiar with some of the landscape put me in the picture easily, but I don't think so. I just liked his way with words.

The story is aimless in the way life is. The characters that just happen upon each other do so in the strange way that we've all acquired friends or extended family that we never intended to. It just happens. And then they start affecting o
Mar 31, 2014 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well written story with memorable characters and situations.
Set in Wyoming, it is a story of lost love, friendship, family and much more.

Every now and then I come across a book that really makes me grateful for this activity that
we call reading. It is a true marvel to me that we can look at these symbols (the alphabet) that
are formed into greater symbols (words) that when connected reveal events and tell of people who
engage in various acts that resonate and in which we find meani
Apr 12, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
Loved this book and can't believe it took me this long to find Mark Spragg. The current day story juxtaposed against McEban's childhood, back-and-forth, often staccato style, is masterful. This is a story about two men and the woman they love...but it is rich with all sorts of relationships, beautifully told. I enjoyed the story line of McEban's mother, sparsely told as it was, as she reminded me so much of an aunt of mine. And McEban's love and Bennet's wife Gretchen? Truly someone I could disl ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Maria rated it it was amazing
I'd picked up Where Rivers Change Directions at Maria's Bookstore in Durango, Colorado. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I lent it to somebody who never gave it back, and then I forgot the damned title and the author's name. I was wrecked. I called Maria's and no one was able to help.

I visited the bookstore 1 year later and asked the clerk who knew exactly which book I was talking about.

I'll never forget the author's name now. Mark conjures what it is like to be a working man in the west, and though he's like
Apr 21, 2011 John rated it liked it
Shelves: western
Spragg really has a knack for writing about Wyoming and contemporary rancher / cowboys. He writes about the most interesting detail of behavior and beautifully describes the land. For that part I would have given this book a five star, but the characters and plot in this story were only ok. For a far better book and one of my all time favorites you would be better off reading his other novel An Unfinished Life.
Apr 17, 2012 Coleen rated it liked it
I wasn't at all familiar with this author when I picked the book up. I just finished the audio version (I do that when possible, in order to more quickly get through my TBR pile!). Another book I have mixed reviews about...the writing is beautiful -- very vivid and almost lyrical at times. The underlying storyline is good, but it just didn't capture me like I had hoped. It's not at all an action-packed novel, and I think it is the writing that saves it, as the storyline moved rather slowly. But ...more
Mar 04, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I like Mark Spragg's style of writing. Think Cormac McCarthy or Kent Haruf. He uses very spare and direct language. The story weaves back and forth between the main character's childhood and current day. Set on a Wyoming cattle ranch, life is often tough for McEban. All kinds of characters enter into the story including Bennett, McEban's best friend, as well as Bennett's wife, Gretchen. A love triangle is set up from the get-go and things get rough. The author has kee ...more
Aug 28, 2007 Julie rated it really liked it
My friend Stephanie sent this, and I don't really know how she knew it would be one I'd like so well, but I did. Matt read it first and loved it, then proceeded to find everything else Mark Spragg has written-- I've still just read this one. It contributes to a growing theory we have about stories taking place in Wyoming-- brutal and inane events seem to take place in such an understated manner that the characters don't seem to notice, and the reader goes back to make sure it really happened. Pl ...more
Jonathan Kramer
Nov 03, 2014 Jonathan Kramer rated it it was ok
Couldn't get into it due to the repetitive narrative style, as in "he does this, and then does that, but he really thinks he might have done the other thing". It's overused and lacks rhythm that keeps the reader engaged. The cowboy thing grows old, though his creative use of descriptions as it relates to the environment is well done. But it left me wanting much more, so I quit reading it half way through. I DID enjoy "An Unfinished Life" and had hoped for more with this book. Oh well.
Jul 20, 2011 Kiessa rated it did not like it
Oh boy, I wish I had those hours back.

If I hadn't (mistakenly) chosen this book for a column I write, I would not have finished it. That said, I am so glad it is over.

I'm from Cody, Wyoming, so I thought I would really appreciate recognizing the setting and the people of the story. It wasn't enough to carry me through an otherwise bad read.

Nothing about this book held together for me. It isn't even worth the time to say more.
Mar 23, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it
Spragg writes brilliant descriptive prose. The story is slow and steady, building to a satisfying conclusion. The novel is like its setting, Wyoming, beautiful, spare, harsh, and not for all. My husband really loved this book and encouraged me to read it. At first I thought it was too slow, but appreciated its pace by the end. I feel I've been on a trip to those north western states where tough people deal with problems in a way that seems stronger than it really is.
Oct 23, 2016 Jodell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: angst-riddled
This story is about three people who all have loved one another at some of the most pivotal points in their lives. Lets not forget the dog. "Wiley", No good story is complete without a dog.

If Wiley the dog had his perspective on writing this novel he would have said:

"They all loved each other most of their lives and I hope it was enough to know there was a map of each other's souls imprinted inside of each of them.

Wiley already had the map.
Feb 03, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
I bought this after reading "An Unfinished Life." Again, Spragg's language is poetic. But I really had to force my way through the novel, where AUL was effortless. The plot was thin and the characters weren't strong enough to carry me through. But I'm glad I read it anyway; his talent for words is inspiring.
Sep 18, 2010 Jan rated it liked it
A wonderful story of Wyoming, current day. Spragg is a wordsmith and paints vivd pictures with his words. Alternates between his current experience and his childhood. Very strong resonance with Kent Haruf. Story of best friends in love with the same woman since childhood and how life takes you in different directions.
Oct 10, 2013 Catherine rated it did not like it
Having loved "An Unfinished Life" I rushed to get hold of this book with the hope that I would love it too but alas, I just couldn't get into it. Not sure if my expectations were something similar to "an unfinished life" and had they not been, maybe this book would have been good, but, I just felt that I wasn't pulled into the book, like it wasn't going anywhere. I'll give it another try...
Jan 14, 2012 Debidog824 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing...I thoroughly enjoyed "Where the River Changes Direction". I thought Ah Unfinished Life was good......I thought this book was strange ....I thought the characters and some of the things they did and said were off the wall.
Mar 22, 2010 Momruns5 rated it really liked it
Reminded me of home. He called soda "pop" and he called the ditch at the side of a road the "barrow pit" I love Wyoming. It was a wild book, full of Wyoming people to the extreme. Beautiful descriptions.
Apr 05, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
This book snuck up on me and left me in awe of such beautiful prose and unforgettable characters. If this is what a modern western novel is like- I will read more! Made me long for the landscape of home, the edge of where the plains meet the mountains.
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Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers award, and the novels The Fruit of Stone and An Unfinished Life, which was chosen by the Rocky Mountain News as the Best Book of 2004. All three were top-ten Book Sense selections and have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives with his wife, Virginia, in Wyomi ...more
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