Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories” as Want to Read:
The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  220 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in "The Vulgar Soul" or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, these stories decline to se ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 19th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Torturer's Apprentice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Torturer's Apprentice

1984 by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George OrwellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Stranger by Albert CamusWhere the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
White as the Driven Snow
164th out of 1,035 books — 232 voters
The Ordinary Seaman by Francisco GoldmanThe House of Paper by Carlos María DomínguezFelicia's Journey by William TrevorThe Bookshop by Penelope FitzgeraldBear by Marian Engel
"One for the Books" Titles
16th out of 29 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 416)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
I don't much like short stories, but I started to read the first one and was hooked. I can't say that I enjoyed every one but some stand out in my mind, the title story, the Torturer's Apprentice and Vulgar Soul are two. And Never Come Up, an unusual story about story-telling was one of the best. I am Not a Jew is not about religion but a simply told tale of how so much of life is a straight choice, an either/or and that you should careful when you choose because even if the choice implies no ac ...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 01, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2008 Kenneth added it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: outstanding
"The Vulgar Soul," the opening story of this collection, was a requirement during orientation at Loyola. I think they mailed us a printout or something like that, which we were to familiarize ourself with before going in to take placement tests and get acquainted with the faculty. I remember working through a weekend rush at the deli, busing tables, and getting frustrated when someone would get up and interrupt my reading.

What stands out most about this story is a species of epiphany used toward
This collection of short stories focuses upon the bizarre and the fantastic, with some horror thrown in for good measure. With most short stories, the ending is important, either silencing the outcome with a finality the reader accepts or making the reader yearn for more. While some of the stories in this book hit the mark, others just kind of sat there, not sure where to go or when to end.

My favorite was the last story, NEVER COME UP, which was ghostly and enthralling. Ducks and whiskey haunted
Brett Starr
Apr 21, 2010 Brett Starr rated it really liked it
As a big fan of short stories, I'm constantly looking for new books and "The Torturer's Apprentice" kept showing up wherever I looked. The book has a near perfect 4 1/2 out of 5 stars rating, so I decided to take the plunge.

This is John Biguenet's first short story collection and he has since published a novel Oyster: A Novel, which I have not read.

This collection has 14 short stories, my favorites were -

"The Vulgar Soul" a man named Tom Hogue begins to bleed for no apparent reason. He gradua
Dec 03, 2014 Taylor added it
The author has a very strong purpose in this book, just like many other books. This book was made up of a bunch of small stories, and with each of the stories the author had a purpose to state. Although the stories tend to be dark and feature protagonists who are ill at ease in their surroundings, it's surprising how many of them leave room for positive at the end. I think the main purpose would be to learn how to cope with what is happening and to stay positive.
I believe the theme in this bo
Mar 17, 2009 Ken rated it it was ok
In great defense of only two stars, I have to say I really wanted to like this book more. But in all honesty, the stories just fell flat. It was obvious to me that Biguenet is a good writer. He has a great sense of pacing, a nice macabre bent, and a good ear for dialogue. They are constructed quite nicely, nothing ever feels superfluous or overwritten. But to me the stories lacked a much needed spark. In some ways, I felt as if I were reading Ron Howard films on a page: expertly made, good heart ...more
May 01, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The Torturer's Apprentice was the title du jour on a message board I was reading, so I picked up a copy for myself to see what everyone was talking about. It's a collection of exceedingly well-written short stories, and although the title suggests the macabre, I think a better adjective might be "grotesque," with all associated Flannery O'Connor connotations. Stories include an unreligious man who develops stigmata and has to cope with throngs of believers who want to see his wounds; a man who d ...more
Dec 05, 2013 Capiz rated it really liked it
There's a vintage book store around the corner from my house that I kept meaning to go visit but never did. Last weekend, I declared it finally time. The place is packed to the rafters, allegedly in order but not really, and...has at least six resident cats. Naturally, I'm in love.

So I found this little gem tucked away in a corner, completely by accident. The cover was interesting, and though I'm generally skeptical of short stories, the price was right so I checked it out.

I didn't figure out
Amber the Human
Jul 04, 2015 Amber the Human rated it liked it
I bought this book at Dutton's in Brentwood before it closed. It lived on my shelf for years. Then I started to read the first story, but never finished it. So now was the time. I liked it. A little darker than I generally like, but overall a thought-provoking read.
Jul 22, 2015 Deborah rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of short stories. Dark, but thought provoking.
Jul 07, 2011 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Biguenet is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His short stories are quite amazing, taking the appropriate twists and turns but also surprising you and keeping you on your feet. His research is impeccable making the doctor, the salesman, the torturer in these stories equally believable. His prose is beautiful and intricate and just as smart as he is. I'm generally not a huge fan of collections but this one is worth every penny and every second.
Aug 08, 2012 Scoats rated it it was amazing
Well written stories with shades of Kafka. The writing is concise yet full. An easy read but deep and fulfilling. Great stuff. Not sure why others would skip over any of the stories as none of them all too long. Some are only a couple of pages.

I put off reading this one because of the gory title, I shouldn't have. The title story is actually near the end and not really all that gory.
Jul 10, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it
I blasted through this book in 4 riveting hours. "a plague of toads", my favorite, was a fantasy thriller reminiscent of Poe. Echoes of Hemingway and Conrad plus more than a hint of King make these stories, while not masterful, at least compelling and often thrilling. Definitely a great book for beaches, airplanes, and long lazy weekends.
Mar 03, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it
There were a few stories in here that really stayed with me. Years later I can recall thinking about the choices the author made in writing his sentences and wondering what was edited out. The economy of short stories that invite you imagine beyond the words exists here.
Mar 30, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This is one of my favorite books. A great collection of short stories, many capturing the essence of New Orleans perfectly. My favorite story is the last, "And Never Come Up." Highest recommendation.
Sep 03, 2011 Carmen marked it as to-read
Thus far, the stories here are a mixed bag. Some of them I adore ("A Plague of Toads," "Fatherhood"), and others left me cold ("Lunch with My Daughter," "The Vulgar Soul," "My Slave," and others).
These stories should be in a high school remedial literature textbook. And WILL be in a high school remedial literature textbook. And something about that is strangely comforting.
Jun 07, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing
I do love me a good short story, and if I hadn't just finished Throws Like a Girl, I would say this is the best compilation I've read. Loved it.
Dec 20, 2010 Erin rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. These stories will stay with you and make you view the world in a different light - read and enjoy!
Mar 03, 2009 Colleen rated it it was ok
Some were good, others I just skipped. Interesting to see victimhood as a theme.
Jun 29, 2012 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
WIth some exceptions, I thought the stories got better and better as it went along.
Edward Fredericks
Feb 23, 2012 Edward Fredericks rated it really liked it
Well crafted stories that take unexpected turns (without being gimmicky).
Oct 24, 2007 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
These are shockingly wild stories. And well-crafted. And good.
The Torturer's Apprentice by John Biguenet (2001)
May 26, 2016 Alan marked it as my-shelves
If Raymond Carver wrote dark shorts....
Asha Cohen
Feb 29, 2016 Asha Cohen rated it it was ok
not my favorite, it was ok!!!
Peter Head
Interesting short stories.
May 21, 2009 Hannah added it
Fantastically written-- creeptastic.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Heat and Other Stories
  • The O. Henry Prize Stories 2003
  • New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City
  • Welding with Children: Stories
  • Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee: 44 Stories
  • Clown Tear Junkies
  • The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories
  • Tabloid Dreams
  • Things that Fall from the Sky
  • I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven
  • The Collected Stories
  • Speak of the Devil
  • The O. Henry Prize Stories 2002
  • The Sadness of Sex
  • Great American Short Stories
  • Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba
  • Almost Innocent
  • Honeymoon In Hell

Share This Book