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Pilgrims

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3.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,388 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Elizabeth Gilbert's short stories roam from Wyoming to New York City, from Minnesota to Texas. With humor and dignity, Gilbert explores the revelations of diverse and memorable characters, each pursuing a singular American pilgrimage. A tough East Coast girl dares a western cowboy to run off into the Rocky Mountains with her. A family of Hungarian-immigrant magicians strug ...more
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published December 31st 1997 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1997)
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Martine
Elizabeth Gilbert's Pilgrims (first published in 1997) has come in for a fair bit of criticism on Goodreads -- mainly, I think, because it is so different from her humongous bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. I get the impression many readers go into this collection of short stories expecting it to be a re-tread of themes discussed in Eat, Pray, Love, only to be fiercely disappointed and unforgiving when they find out it isn't. It's a pity many readers can't judge the book on its own merits, for Pilgri ...more
Elizabeth
May 23, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2013
I suspect this book's wanting Goodreads rating has more to do with Gilbert's being shunned by literary types who assume Eat, Pray, Love (EPL) is her norm (and so haven't read her other stuff), and EPL-lovers who worship that book and had hoped for more of the same in this one, only to be very disappointed.

That's a shame, especially for the former category, because Gilbert is an outstanding writer. I was impressed by 'The Last American Man' and loved this collection. These are great, tiny short s
...more
Destinee Sutton
I actually only read half of this, but because it's a book of short stories I feel I can comment on the quality of the book not having finished it. After all, I read 4 or 5 finished products and not 40-50% of a product. That makes sense, right?

Anyway, I only bought the book to give to my Mom because she loved Eat, Pray, Love so much. But then I didn't see her for like five days so I had it in my bag all that time and I just read it because it was there.

So the verdict is: She writes pretty good
...more
Beverly Fox
Sep 19, 2013 Beverly Fox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. I flat-out fell in love with her when I read Eat, Pray, Love and that love was solidified when I read Committed.

It’s a strange experience, and one I haven’t had before: to come to know an author, love them and then learn that there’s an entirely different side to them that you never knew existed. That’s what happened to me when I read Pilgrims, Gilbert’s collection of short stories and my first exposure to her fiction.

I know that memoir and fiction are two
...more
Jillian
Gilbert calls her collection of stories Pilgrims and opens with the Prologue from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

There's an important problem with that parallel.

The stories told by Chaucer's pilgrims are primarily plot-driven with simple archetypal characters and solid endings. (The tub falls through the roof! The murderers are murdered! The couple lives happily ever after!) In contrast, Gilbert's stories have unique and well-drawn characters... and NO ENDINGS. Almost all of them just drift along
...more
Elizabeth
Dec 10, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mom, and mostly anyone
I really enjoyed this collection.

I think my favorite thing about the stories is how they seem to be temporary glimpses into a life that has been existing and will continue to exist outside of the story. There is a little background information, but no real 'start' (like "once upon a time") to them, and there is no definite end. All of the stories seemed to just stop, like the end of a chapter, without a wrap-up. It didn't feel like I was cheated; it seemed natural.

The writing itself was relaxe
...more
Michael
Jan 13, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if I've ever given a collection of short fiction 5/5 stars, and I don't think I ever will; it's too hit-or-miss for that (regardless of the author). My favorite stories here were 'Pilgrims' and 'The Famous Torn and Restored Cigarette Trick.' 'Elk Talk,' which was the story I was most excited for - and the reason I bought the book - turned out to be something other than what I'd expected.
Margaret
Sep 07, 2008 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: Mark
Unique, tough and real characters populate this rather quirky book of stories that all seem to fairly vibrate and hum with a rich and powerful sense of place. She captures beautifully the innocence and tenderness possible from a clueless 15-year-old boy as deftly as the defensive irascibility of a Montana woman who receives a visit from unexpected neighbors while her husband is away. I was repeatedly struck by the economy of her prose, something I aspire to but rarely achieve in my own. Will pro ...more
Sam
Nov 23, 2015 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm such an Elizabeth Gilbert fan. Favorite stories were the last two: The Famous Torn and Restored Lit Cigarette Trick and The Finest Wife.
K.K.
Jul 15, 2008 K.K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.K. by: Andrea Weatherman
Shelves: 2008-book-log
This is a phenomenal book. Short stories can be a difficult sell, and knowing that this author became famous for "Eat, Love, Pray" I was admittedly a bit skeptical of her creative ability since that book was pegged as more of a "self-help."

(Note: my sister Michelle highly sings the praises of "Eat, Love, Pray." I am not putting it down, I just didn't have much confidence in a person to successfully tackle both styles of writing.)

However, the author did it. And she did it well. She has a deep dar
...more
Pam
Apr 13, 2015 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a short story fan but I am an Elizabeth Gilbert fan and will pretty much read anything she writes although my preference would be her novels. "Stern Men" will probably forever be my favorite of her books and was the first one I read some years ago.
This collection of stories is filled with funny, sad, weird, quirky characters in funny, sad, weird, quirky situations. They are short stories so some make little sense to me and most don't really have an ending but it doesn't matter because he
...more
Caroline Herfindahl
I absolutely love Gilbert's quirky, off beat characters and often felt left wanting for more in this collection of short stories. I don't read a lot of short fiction (something I should rectify) probably for exactly that reason - too much is left unsaid or resolved for me. However I am glad I picked this up. Her characters show just how complicated, multi layered and even duplicitous human beings can be and her tough yet vulnerable army of pilgrims leaves you contemplating your own.
Amanda
Dec 01, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally went back and read Elizabeth Gilbert's first collection of short stories. It's neat to see how far she has come. Her writing is definitely better than it used to be, but she was always pretty great. She has a way of describing things that is just unmatched - uses beautiful language that shows how well read and intelligent she is, but also throws in completely casual conversational lines that make you feel like you're just chatting with her. I didn't love/get all of these stories, but I e ...more
Michelle
Dec 31, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: highly-recommend
I have to admit it: the short story genre is one of my least favorites. But I loved this book. Each story reads like a small snapshot of a person's day-to-day routine, capturing a vivid memory that sticks in the characters souls. A few folks in other Goodreads reviews complained that these sets of stories were incomplete. I couldn't disagree more. I think what I've always hated about most short stories is they try to be complete stories. There is so much action, drama, and wordiness crammed into ...more
Emily
Apr 13, 2009 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It pains me to give a book written by Elizabeth Gilbert only 1 star, but this book really wasn't very good. I listened to this collection of short stories instead of reading it. I found each story to be underdeveloped; each ending left me wondering why she had ended it when she did. In my opinion, she should stick to non-fiction.
emily
Dec 29, 2007 emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved eat pray love and my mom recommended this earlier book of gilbert's short stories. it's fascinating to see her voice in a fictional setting, and the stories are very diverse and each one leaves you thinking.
Judith Tankink
Nov 18, 2015 Judith Tankink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the atmosphere in this book!

However I did get the feeling once in a while that the stories are not edited well. A lot of repetition, and not in an arty way that made me think it was on purpose. Example:

"Denny Brown also did not know that Russell Kalesky’s older brother, Peter Kalesky, made fun of Russell’s car every single time he came home for dinner. Peter Kalesky owned a handsome Chevrolet truck. Peter was twenty years old and lived in his own apartment on the other side of Mo
...more
Catharine
While I thought the first three stories were dynamite, the rest of the book has disappointed me. The stories seem like line after line of dialog .. and not terribly interesting at that.
Christinaottis
Aug 24, 2009 Christinaottis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not that into fiction, but I love her writing. She has a great way with dialogue. Each of these short stories are unique and captivating.
Steph
May 18, 2009 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of short stories. Perfect for someone with not much time since you can read each story in short spurts.
Susan
Dec 30, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterfully written short stories. How can I become so invested in the characters by the end of the first paragraph?
Laura Keller
Aug 08, 2008 Laura Keller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers interested in American "grotesques."
Recommended to Laura by: Read about it in Time.
One of best collections of short stories I've read in years. Reminds me of Sherwood Anderson and Hemingway.
Jericha
This collection is...hard for me to quantify. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Eat Pray Love, and I like Gilbert as an author generally, but these stories...well, they're very well-written, with solid and believable characters, well-drawn settings, and fluid language, and yet each one of them just sort of...stops. I enjoyed reading them, but only a few days later I can hardly remember anything that happened in any of them -- I suppose it's easiest to say that they were perfectly fine ...more
Sandra
May 24, 2014 Sandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Gilbert's extraordinary fiction work "The Signature of All Things" and loving her memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" I assumed that she would also excel at short stories - unfortunately this short story collection of hers was not for me - they seemed very undeveloped, the writing reminded me of senior high essays and many of the stories ended abruptly in strange ways. I didn't even finish the last two stories in the book because I was just not enjoying the book! Elizabeth Gilbert is a great ...more
Maria
Dec 30, 2011 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to not like short stories because I always felt that they ended too soon and I was left wanting more. I've recently discovered that I quite enjoy short stories that are just "the middle", with no real beginning or ending, just a bit of the journey.

And so I enjoyed some of the stories in Elizabeth Gilbert's Pilgrims, for the very reason that many people seem to not appreciate them.

The first one that really drew me in was "The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen)". We all
...more
Lisa
Jun 25, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From this book, I learned that reading short stories is not my thing. At the end of a short story, I always feel like I need more. I suppose it is a good exercise in self-discipline and imagination to be denied a complete resolution and decide for myself what happens next. But in order for me to take that mental leap I need to be more invested than 15-30 pages.

That being said, this is a really good book of short stories. The characters are interesting and deep, complicated and bittersweet. I lef
...more
Katherine
Yes, I liked 'Eat, Pray, Love' enough that I got curious about her other books.

One fiction, one nonfiction, and one memoir: that's an interesting lineup.

So I was at the Y the other week, and carrying this book, and a woman saw it and said "Oh, she wrote another one?," and I explained that this was an early story collection. "How is it?," she asked. "It's okay," I said. "I mean, up and down. I think it shows her kinda finding her voice." The woman nodded sagely. She told me to read some book call
...more
Aurora  Fitzrovia
1 - 1.5

Hätte ich das Buch damals nicht spontan in einer Bücherei kaufen können, wäre es vermutlich gar nicht in mein Regal gewandert. Keine der insgesamt 12 Kurzgeschichten hat mir wirklich gefallen. Mit meistens 10-20 Seiten sind die Geschichten zwar recht kurz und damit schnell gelesen, allerdings fand ich sie auch ziemlich langweilig und belanglos. Und seltsam.

--------------------------
Geschichte 1: Wanderer
Cowboygeschichte. Vermutlich hab ich es auch nicht wirklich verstanden, mich haben die
...more
Sarah
Known best for Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert took a different turn here with a collection of short stories that could be classified as character studies, though many also explore the character's relationship with one vital person. The lives represented are as diverse as the American landscape, and their experiences ring true whether poignant, funny, tragic, or promising, or a mix of everything together, as life often is. Unfortunately, Books on Tape did everything in their power to make thi ...more
Jenna Evans
Jul 11, 2014 Jenna Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dig Gilbert's fiction, but I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 (I'm not going to review books I didn't like) because some of the stories are a little pedestrian, if solid. However, they're still engaging, and a couple of them were utterly haunting. The one that takes place in a storm at sea chilled me to the core, and I keep trying to explain it to friends. There's one about a mad neighbor that sort of emotionally flips itself inside-out, which I admired very much.
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Liz Gilbert's writing 2 18 Aug 08, 2013 06:05PM  
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Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, and her novel Stern Men was a New York Times notable book. Her 2002 book The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

Her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, spent 57 weeks in the #1
...more
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“Pilgrims WHEN MY OLD MAN said he’d hired her, I said, “A girl?” A girl, when it wasn’t that long ago women couldn’t work on this ranch even as cooks, because the wranglers got shot over them too much. They got shot even over the ugly cooks. Even over the old ones. I said, “A girl?” “She’s from Pennsylvania,” my old man said. “She’ll be good at this.” “She’s from what?” When my brother Crosby found out, he said, “Time for me to find new work when a girl starts doing mine.” My old man looked at him. “I heard you haven’t come over Dutch Oven Pass once this season you haven’t been asleep on your horse or reading a goddamn book. Maybe it’s time for you to find new work anyhow.” He told us that she showed up somehow from Pennsylvania in the sorriest piece of shit car he’d ever seen in his life. She asked him for five minutes to ask for a job, but it didn’t take that long. She flexed her arm for him to feel, but he didn’t feel it. He liked her, he said, right away. He trusted his eye for that, he said, after all these years. “You’ll like her, too,” he said. “She’s sexy like a horse is sexy. Nice and big. Strong.” “Eighty-five of your own horses to feed, and you still think horse is sexy,” I said, and my brother Crosby said, “I think we got enough of that kind of sexy around here already.” She was Martha Knox, nineteen years old and tall as me, thick-legged but not fat, with cowboy boots that anyone could see were new that week, the cheapest in the store and the first pair she’d ever owned. She had a big chin that worked only because her forehead and nose worked, too, and she had the kind of teeth that take over a face even when the mouth is closed. She had, most of all, a dark brown braid that hung down the center of her back, thick as a girl’s arm. I danced with Martha Knox one night early in the season. It was a day off to go down the mountain, get drunk, make phone calls, do laundry, fight. Martha Knox was no dancer. She didn’t want to dance with me. She let me know this by saying a few times that she wasn’t going to dance with me, and then, when she finally agreed, she wouldn’t let go of her cigarette. She held it in one hand and let that hand fall and not be available. So I kept my beer bottle in one hand, to balance her out, and we held each other with one arm each. She was no dancer and she didn’t want to dance with me, but we found a good slow sway anyway, each of us with an arm hanging down, like a rodeo cowboy’s right arm, like the right arm of a bull rider, not reaching for anything. She wouldn’t look anywhere but over my left shoulder, like that part of her that was a good dancer with me was some part she had not ever met and didn’t feel” 0 likes
“My old man also said this about Martha Knox: “She’s not beautiful, but I think she knows how to sell it.” Well, it’s true that I wanted to hold her braid. I always had wanted to from first seeing it and mostly I wanted to in that dance, but I didn’t reach for it and I didn’t set down my beer bottle. Martha Knox wasn’t selling anything. We didn’t dance again that night or again at all, because” 0 likes
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