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Hell's Bottom, Colorado

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Winner of the Milkweek National Fiction Prize, in this collection of linked short stories, Laura Pritchett balances gritty material with genuine warmth and understanding of character. Hell’s Bottom is more than a ranch. Home to Renny, one of those women who prefers “a little Hell swirled with their Heaven,” and her husband, Ben, who’s “gotten used to smoothing over Renny’s ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published October 15th 2001 by Milkweed Editions (first published 2001)
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23rd out of 136 books — 29 voters
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119th out of 133 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

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Cecilia Lafrance
Aug 03, 2015 Cecilia Lafrance rated it liked it
Local author. Strong writing. Confusing arrangement and use of first person in each character without clarity of relationships. Short and needed development for a strong plot, but had great local color of ranch life in Colorado.
Sep 25, 2016 Deidre added it
good one
Feb 28, 2012 mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers, writers, all people.
This is a terrific book. I’ll go ahead and call it perfect. Consider the six elements of a story: Plot; Characterization; Setting; Point Of View; Theme, and Title. Hell’s Bottom, Colorado scores the highest marks for all six, and that is extremely rare. Briefly (as I don’t want to spoil your reading delight and pleasure – though there is no mistaking – this is not a cheerful book. It is, as all good literature is—disturbing.): This is a realistic look at ranch life in Colorado at the forward tur ...more
Jan 05, 2008 Venessa rated it it was amazing
First, Hell’s Bottom is a GREAT title; it’s a great phrase in and of itself, and the name of the Ranch where Renny and Ben raise two daughters, who grow up and apart to lead two very different lives both from each other and their parents. This is a book of short stories, but the same rich characters can be found throughout the different tales, as they are all about one family struggling to ranch and survive in the unforgiving climate of the Rocky Mountains. Pritchett deals with life events/theme ...more
Craig Werner
Dec 17, 2011 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
A quiet, subtle, unsentimental set of interrelated short stories about a Colorado family that bears comparison with Kent Haruf's Plainsong and Evensong. Not quite as compelling as Haruf, but that's sort of like saying a southern writer isn't quite as powerful as Faulkner. Like Haruf, Pritchett has a profound appreciation for the silence that frames life on the plains and in the ranching areas of the mountains. She writes equally well about each of the three generations she traces. If I were teac ...more
John Benson
Jan 09, 2016 John Benson rated it really liked it
This book is a prequel to Laura Pritchett's STARS GO BLUE. While that book had a very discernible plot, this book is more of a series of slice-of-life ranching stories with some of the same characters as the later book. I read STARS GO BLUE first and because of that was somewhat disappointed that this book did not help me understand all the characters in the second book better. If I had read it as a collection of stories and not known of the other book, I might have liked it better.
Molly Fuller
Apr 01, 2013 Molly Fuller rated it really liked it
Loved this book. We all have those memories that stick with us for a lifetime, regardless of how significant they may be, that we can recount in vivid detail. This book is not as much a book of short stories as it is a compilation of those memories; perfect little snippets of time housed in 142 pages. Pritchett uses this literary device perfectly; I feel as though I can know the Cross family better in this short work than I'd be able to in a 500 page novel.
Jul 06, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016, colorado
Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective with the story jumping around quite a bit between characters/chapters making it difficult to follow the story. It read more like short stories than a novel.

However, Pritchett's writing is very beautiful and she really has a way with telling a story.

I liked the 2nd book, Stars Go Blue, much better than this one.
Amron Gravett /  Wild Clover Book Services
"Billy was trying to teach me how to shoot last week. I didn’t get very close to any prairie dogs, but we laughed hard then and that makes me smile."

This award winning first novel is a moving collection of stories told in the perspective of members of a ranching family who live under the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
Dale Barlow
Jun 25, 2014 Dale Barlow rated it it was amazing
multiple stories about life in Hell’s Bottom. All very entertaining, some not so sweet, but realistic. Zipped through this one, which was easy because of the short stories and short length of entire book; 148 pgs. (I read the Kindle Edition while on the VIA Canada Rail vacation); read Jun. 2014/#40
Sep 14, 2015 Karla rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I picked this one up because I had read and loved Stars Go Blue by the same author. Hell's Bottom is about the same characters and was written first. I didn't care for this one. It is actually a series of short stories about the characters. I am not a fan of the format.
Connie Weiss
Dec 15, 2015 Connie Weiss rated it liked it
This a book of short stories about a family that lives the ranch life in Colorado. They aren't in any kind of order and the stories are sad and depressing. Reminds me of my old life on a ranch in Colorado....
Jun 16, 2015 Ian rated it it was amazing
Powerful book-- will stay with me for a long time. Vivid descriptions of the landscape and moving portrayal of unique characters in small-town Colorado. Intense story and emotions. Makes me want to read more by this author for sure.
Ryan Roth
Jan 10, 2015 Ryan Roth rated it liked it
Shelves: in-the-q
A solid collection of interconnected short stories about a family living on a ranch in Colorado. I feel it's a solid set up for the following books in the collection.
Julie M
Jan 01, 2013 Julie M rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Milkweed Editions
I can see why this won the Milkweed prize for fiction (2001) - awesome short stories (related) in Pritchett's collection. Writing is superb.
Mar 06, 2009 Jillian rated it it was amazing
WONDERFUL book and characters . . . my only complaint is that I wanted much much more! The characters were so authentic and great. For anyone who loved Plainsong, definitely read this one too!
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Leah rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2009
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Elizabeth Carlton rated it it was amazing
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Mar 13, 2015
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Laura Pritchett is an American author.
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