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Gallatin Canyon

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  449 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
A superb collection of stories—his first in twenty years—from one of our most acclaimed literary figures, whom The New York Times Book Review has called “a writer of the first magnitude.”

Place exerts the power of destiny in these ten stories of lives uncannily recognizable and unforgettably strange: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 4th 2006 by Knopf (first published 2006)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 02, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it liked it
When I moved to Arizona to go to college I supported myself working in bookstores and Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane were the first modern writers that I read and identified with. So picking up this collection of short stories for me was like slipping on that ancient, comfortable pair of wear-bleached white blue jeans.

The Montana based stories in this collection are vintage McGuane. The two stories Vicious Circle and Old Friends featuring John Briggs were probably my favorite. I would have eas
Apr 04, 2008 Kirk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Malboro men
Solid collection of late-period McGuane. The stories are largely oblong---that is, you can't find the center, and the endings come from odd angles that give a new perspective on the main conflict. The best here is "Cowboy," which succeeds largely because of the clever voice and the telescoping action. There are also at least two nostalgic childhood stories in the classic "Araby" mode---"Ice" in particular is affecting. A couple of the stories are a little too in the old absurdist manner of The B ...more
Sam S
Nov 04, 2014 Sam S rated it really liked it
I read this collection on the strength of a New York Times Book Review in 2006.( After I finished the book, I gave my copy to a friend and haven't seen it since. Even so I find myself in my own thoughts going back to Gallatin Canyon and the stories McGuane tells there.

The story that sticks out most in my mind is the ultimate tale, "The Refugee," which is set off the Florida Keys far from McGuane's home ground in Montana and takes up more than a quarter
George Seaton
Aug 08, 2013 George Seaton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western-writers
Here is a fine writer who tells quirky stories and enlivens archaic words in the process. These stories are well-written by an author who either has a superb imagination or whose life experiences trump mine by a longshot. My favorite of the bunch was "Cowboy", and I can tell you that McGuane's mastery of idiom in that story is notable. Take for instance: "Eveything a cow does is to make itself into meat as fast as it can so somebody can eat it. It's a terrible life, and a cowboy is its little he ...more
Andy Miller
Apr 24, 2014 Andy Miller rated it liked it
My favorite story in this uneven collection is "North Coast" about two heroin addicts who have retained outdoor skills in a hike designed to obtain artifacts to finance their addiction. The sadness of the story is offset by the occasional humor including the following passage:
"They both had huge cannisters of bear spray they'd bought in New Hazelton, but only Austin had ever had to use it-an experience that gave him no confidence since the bear stopped only feet away as the can emptied, and see
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Now I will be one to say right out, I am not a fan of short stories.
Unless it's scary/horror stories.
These were really nice short stories.
Some were better than others, of course, that will happen.
But all in all, not a bad book.
Jun 09, 2011 Jeruen rated it really liked it
I have noticed something with regard to my reading habits. It seems that I am slowly warming up to the idea of reading a book that is not a novel, but instead is a collection of short stories. And this book that I recently finished is one of them.

The thing that usually irks me about short story collections is the fact that I usually find myself at a loss when I finally get to like the protagonist, and suddenly the story ends and another one begins. I suppose that is just how short stories are, a
Mar 27, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A collection of short stories by McGuane, the best of which are Cowboy and The Refugee. These two stories are probably on my top 10 list of short stories. The rest are a mixed bag - some of them I really did not like: Vicious Circle, Old Friends, and The Zombie; the rest were quite good and I think I would want to read them again to see if circumstance allows me to better digest them.

I really enjoy McGuane's manner/ style of writing. The voice has a familiarity to it, it is sensible and manly (s
May 05, 2012 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never really gotten into short-story collections, but I cannot seem to focus on any one book, so thought I would give this a try. A couple of stories in and I am really enjoying McGuane's voice(s) and his use of the medium.

Took a while to finish the collection, but I guess that is the beauty of a short story collection. I would take this to a bar while traveling and read a story, or read one while the plane is taking off and I cannot turn on my Kindle.

Overall, this is a solid collection o
Mar 23, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: westerns
A Thomas McGuane story may shamble on indefinitely, a compendium of back-stories for their own sake, and all the time sort of amused by the arbitrariness of people’s lives. Sometimes those lives have derailed long ago, and the characters are still plugging along, a little disoriented but believing that meaning can still be salvaged from it all.

Gallatin Canyon is like that, a collection of ten stories, one of them long enough to be a novella. Some take place in McGuane’s Montana. The aptly named
Mar 24, 2010 Trish rated it liked it
I had read two of the stories in this collection previously--probably Best American short stories or crime stories. I couldn't finish the longest one, The Refugee. Too damn much boating.

Favorite: "Cowboy," in which a farmhand condenses years of life on a ranch into 12 pages. Also, "Vicious Circle," in which a first date ends with the innocent-looking Olivia swamped by her alcoholic tendencies.


People in relationships nowadays seemed to retain their secrets like bank deposits--they
Robert Swanger
Jun 11, 2014 Robert Swanger rated it really liked it
McGuane's characters have one thing in common: they love another person deeply without realizing the existence of love itself, much less its complexity.

A ex-con ranch hand affectionately refers to his boss and father-figure as "the ol' summbitch," a heroin addict loves the man who steers her though life, a father pays a prostitute to make a man of his teenage son.

Such deconstruction of numbness to emotion brings to mind Raymond Carver.
Bookmarks Magazine

Thomas McGuane has been praised for his remarkable writing style, emotional depth, and close observations about the American West. This collection, full of edgy wit, irony, and bleak characters, received the same acclaim as his previous works, but critics agree that some stories are better than others. "Miracle Boy" and "The Refugee" are complex and compelling, while "The Zombie" feels like filler. In fact, though reviewers agree that McGuane deserves a wider readership, this collection might no

Jan 11, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it
This is an interesting collection of stories, and a forlorn cast of characters. In each piece I feel as if I were dropped down into each story as an invisible bystander: the scene descriptions, rich details and sometimes awkward (in a tense or teasing sense) dialogue all contributed to the sadness and struggle depicted. This is the first thing I have read by Mcguane, so surely his earlier work is now on my list to read.
Dec 12, 2014 Gabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tom McGuane might be the best writer of endings I've ever read. "Vicious Circle," "Old Friends," "The Refugee," and the title story are masterpieces.
Sep 16, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In my top 5 fave story collections of all time. 2nd time reading it.
Charlie Quimby
May 04, 2015 Charlie Quimby rated it liked it
Some great lines and fine stories and for me, a 50-page dud.
Jack Buck
Dec 26, 2014 Jack Buck rated it really liked it
McGuane grew up and lived in Michigan till his late twenties before moving west to Montana. I think I need to make a trip up that way to see what it is all about considering 5 of my favorite writers moved to Montana to live and write. As far as Michigan goes, growing up in the state, I believe in the significance of the rural, Midwesterner deep-rootedness being a backdrop and force that is undeniable in writers from the area such as Richard Ford, Jim Harrison, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas McGuan ...more
Don Lundman
Apr 03, 2015 Don Lundman rated it really liked it
Four of the ten stories in this collection are extraordinary: Cowboy, Aliens, Refugee, and Gallatin Canyon. These are, as I said, stunning. You can skip the rest.
This is McGuane's most recent effort, and some of these stories seem either too brief or too long for their own good. Particularly, "Ice," "Vicious Circle," and the final tale, "Gallatin Canyon" left me with that unexplainable feeling of mystery usually characteristic of great short stories. Others like "Cowboy" and "Old Friends" seemed colder and more technical in nature, lacking the ability to evoke any sort of empathy from the reader.
Apr 06, 2012 Pamela rated it it was ok
With all the bru-ha-ha reviews, I was definitely looking forward to this, but I should have saved my anticipation for something else.

The stories were readable. The stories were ok...but I was expecting a lot more than ok. For me, the real test of a short story collection is that the stories stay with you. With these, a few days after finishing, I couldn't recall the details of a single story.

Big disappointment!
Jan 06, 2008 Adele rated it really liked it
Stories of the old and new West, given to me by my most trusted book source, one Macdonnell Gordon. Though McGuane writes with a masculine slant, he loves about the West what I do. Well, sort of. He writes more about cows, cowpokes and their ilk, of which I know next to nothing, but we are both fans of long horizons and big, open sky.
John E
Nov 02, 2011 John E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read. The long story "The Refugee" was three times as long as it needed to be. The rest were wonderful scenes of America. I found that I ddin't want to read the last three pages of the title story because I knew it would end in a way that I wouldn't like (great description of Idaho though).
Dec 29, 2012 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-books, fiction
A few of the stories were fantastic. All were well written, with beautiful descriptions. However, 2 out of 3 stories just stalled for me, spending too much time on the details without enough movement of plot, and I found myself skimming and paging through to get to the next plot point or reversal.
Jan 14, 2009 Brett rated it did not like it
Probably my last favorite book of the past few years. I was excited about the book because it's a series of short stories all set out west. Only one of them was any good though and I was really just wishing the book would end. Luckily it was only 220 pages so I didn't devote too much time to it.
Martha Steele
Jun 24, 2012 Martha Steele rated it liked it
Good stuff. I hadn't read anything of McGuane's before and picked this up on a whim. Pretty cynical, but also funny and moving. I'm only giving it three stars at this point, because I want to read more of his stuff, after learning more about him. I may decide to up the ante on this one.
Jul 30, 2012 Kristy rated it did not like it
It's not very often that I stop partway through a book. Even less than that when I'm reading a book of shorts and I give up halfway through a story. I might go back and try this one again later, but I find excuses not to read this book which tells me it's time to move on.
My favorite story here is "Gallatin Canyon," which I've reread at least four times now. I love the new west/old west issues that lead to misunderstanding, especially in the realm of the personal. It's a collision course sure to be fatal to someone - and it is.
John Beverley
Nov 01, 2014 John Beverley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A great collection of stories witnessing cultural, ethnic, and personality clashes with salty, tongue-in-cheek humor and rich detail. Gallatin Canyon indicates the geographic center of gravity, but the range of stories is all over the map - in a good way!
Feb 21, 2009 Sarah is currently reading it
So far I love the voice in these stories; the general gruffness brings me to the western places the stories take place, places that are similar to those I am beginning to understand thanks to the Myths of the American West course I am currently teaching.
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