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The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards: Stories

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards is an exhilarating collection, as brash as it is wise, by Robert Boswell one of our great storytellers

Set mainly in small, gritty American cities, each of these stories is a world unto itself. A man's obsessive visits to a fortuneteller leave him nearly homeless. Time collapses as two marriages slowly dissolve. And in the searing title s
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Graywolf Press (first published April 27th 2009)
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Mar 12, 2012 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
well I keep meaning to stick up a review for this great, involving, complicated book. I didn't like every story - 'A Sketch of Highway on the Nap of A Mountain' for example, what was all that weird use of language - Did I convention how Billy and I were a pair for ten years?, but even that was good. Several stories were just the dog's bollocks - the title story, the opening one (No River Wide), A Walk in Winter, the wonderful page and a half 'Skin Deep'. (That story appeared in the same issue of ...more
Nov 10, 2010 Jacob rated it really liked it
First Reads win. I liked this collection--a bunch of effed-up stories about effed-up people with effed-up lives, just fan-effing-tastic all around, if you know what I'm effing talking about--but I have to wonder if my opinion might have been slightly swayed by all the little goodies the publisher sent me along with the book. I mean, I got bookmarks and a poster for upcoming books and a few catalogues advertising other books I didn't win on First Reads but really wanted to, and it made me think g ...more
Alyson Hagy
Sep 21, 2015 Alyson Hagy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boswell is a fine, fine writer. He's remarkably astute about character, and he's fearless when it comes to structure and style. The title piece is wickedly funny and shrewd and sad. The collection features great range and imagination. I've read several of Boswell's novels and collections. He just gets better and better. Story lovers, check him out.
Jun 27, 2009 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a good collection, and I'm almost a lot more enthusiastic about it than the number of stars would suggest. The writing is not only consistently excellent, but its varied. The stories feature strong characters that reveal their emotional lives in ways that makes it hard not to be sympathetic with them-- even though that might mean this collection has a lot of sad sacks in it, I don't think I ever felt dulled by the experience-- rather, the pain these character endured, their sa ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sean by: Shane
I enjoyed two stories: "No River Wide" and "The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards." Generally they all had interesting ideas, but I did not think much of the execution. "A Walk in Winter" could have been a great story, but Boswell spent half of it on inessential plot. "Lacunae" was promising but wrapped up terribly, and should have been more developed. What most the stories lack is tightness. Boswell explains his characters thoughts too much, includes too many useless details, and places emphas ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Alan rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alan by: Jacob
nearly 5, no definitely 5 stars. I loved this book. Right up my street. I'd be proud to write such compelling, complex stories. Proper review will come, eventually (slowing down I'm afraid for work reasons..)
So thanks Jacob for putting me onto this.
Jul 06, 2013 Marilyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't understand some of these stories and the language in most of them was quite colorful
Jan 14, 2011 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I must admit, I picked up this book because the title caught my attention. There's something intriguing about The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards. And there's something intriguing about Robert Boswell's stories. They can be quirky, weird, upsetting, funny, or disturbing, but they're all distinct and have strong voices.

There were stories that were better than others, of course, and I actually found myself most disappointed with the story that shares the book's title. I had high expectations f
John Wood
Feb 09, 2014 John Wood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories are quite varied but all are about quirky, flawed and somewhat disturbing characters. Boswell has a knack for developing interesting characters and drawing us into some unusual situations. I prefer a story to be more conclusively tied together at the end, but Boswell leaves us pondering the implications and just exactly how to interpret what the story's title implies. Though intrigued by the offbeat characters, it took me awhile to appreciate his style. I have been stealthily seduced ...more
Jen Sienko
There is no denying Robert Boswell's talent. His characters are fully formed, very flawed, and buffeted by their bad decisions and lack of self awareness. However, I got bored with every story's stubborn meanness. The women are manipulative, envious, or sad. The men ordinary outlaws in unremarkable circumstances. I wanted some small redemption, some self-awareness, some form of believable recovery. I wanted the man and woman on the cover to stop peeking out the blinds and leave the shadows.
Oct 07, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another amazing book that has haunted me and merits a re-read. The hubby picked this one out for me when I was ill a couple years ago and wanted some library books to pass the time. I was amazed by the stories and characters and can't get them out of my head. Boswell takes the worst thoughts that all of us have but never share with others, and writes them down for us to read. You'll love and hate these characters for the honesty with which the author portrays them. It's funny how they manage to ...more
Stephanie Graham
Feb 15, 2014 Stephanie Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first story in this book is the most unique short story I have ever read. It is incredible! The rest of the stories let me down a little, after that. Overall, though, a very interesting read.
Nov 08, 2010 anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story-ies
Here's the weirdest thing about this book. Apart from a couple of stories, i really enjoyed them all. Except i can't remember half of them without a prompt.
So, when i think back on the book, my first reaction is 'meh'. But then i look at the list of titles, and go 'oh, i loved this one', 'i really enjoyed this one', 'meh', 'oh yes, this one was good'. The ratio is completely flipped.
Clearly, this review says more about my shortcomings than the book's, doesn't it. And the upshot is: the book is
Chaitali Sen
Nov 14, 2010 Chaitali Sen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Often I can't get through a whole short story collection because the writer's style becomes so repetitive and predictable and the stories begin to blur together. I love this book because each story is so different from the next one. I'm really impressed with Boswell's range here. And there are great lines like, "Lisa liked to look on the bright side, but she was often too perceptive to find one." My favorite story in the collection is "City Bus."
Jan 16, 2010 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories. Boswell has a gift for considering a moment in a character's life - and we, the reader, also are forced to consider such whisperings within our own life. I think this is the best a story can be - to bottle a moment and allow the reader to experience it and bridge that moment. Quite magical.
Oct 17, 2011 David rated it really liked it
I've never read Boswell before, but I really got into these stories. Boswell seems to have a knack for finding the cracks in his characters's psyches and putting the reader into the story right at that point and keep the story swimming along in that dark water. Detailed and fluid, it makes for some good reading.
Feb 02, 2010 Noreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A great book of short stories. The characters in all of the stories are affecting. The stories cover a range showing Boswell to be a superb craftsman and storyteller. His sense of humor and quirkiness make these stories entertaining and satisfying. This collection is outstanding.
♥Miyuki♥ Goco
Well,i just bought this book...And I'm hardly half way through,since I've been busy i've seen people's review on this book,im super glad that almost everyone rated this five star,and I've read alot of good feed backs,so i have to start reading this asap! <3
Robb Todd
Had to stop reading this. Couldn't get into his style, even though there was a good line here or there. He's very into character portraits. Also, there were some glaring technical errors in some of the stories that I cannot believe got past an editor.
This the first I've read of Robert Boswell. I like his style and the stories which are haunting and surprising, even though they are about people who deal with unhappiness and loss in their lives. I'll be reading more of Boswell.
Caro Clark
Apr 02, 2013 Caro Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such full characters. Stories that come alive, that read like film. Vivid, nuanced, and powerful scenes. Boswell is also a master of dialogue. This is a book to be studied, but reads like its meant to be enjoyed.
Jun 06, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each of these stories was so perfectly attenuated (one was exactly 2 pages long!), so complete in and of themselves, that I forgot every story that I wasn't reading a novel. Truly a sign of a great short story writer.
Sep 20, 2009 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: band-books
I am not usually a fan of short stories but I am a big fan of Boswell. And my book club is reading this. And the author is coming to the book club! in just a few hours!! Will update this post then.
Oct 19, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this collection of stories. From the very first story I was hooked, and stayed that way until the last (and title) story. This is one book I'll be sure to read again and pass on to friends!
Wayne Klick
Apr 03, 2010 Wayne Klick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good book of short stories. Be forewarned, this is "literary" fiction. There are no murders or space wars, but alcoholism abounds, along with dysfunctional relationships.
Jul 19, 2011 Laraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read other Boswell and always liked him. He knows how to tell a story and draw you in. I would recommend this to almost anyone who likes stories.
May 16, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I always try to finish every book I start reading. However, this book was just too boring for me to continue.
Lulu McGee
Oct 28, 2009 Lulu McGee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not so good. Only a few stories even worth reading. Personally, didn't like the writer's style and rhythm.
Apr 15, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories. The last story had me laughing out loud!
Jun 02, 2009 Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An imaginative and structural achievement--sexual, insightful, and embracing.
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Robert Boswell is the author of eleven books, including The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, a story collection with Graywolf Press, in April 2009. His novels: Century's Son, American Owned Love, Mystery Ride, The Geography of Desire, and Crooked Hearts. His other story collections: Living to Be 100 and Dancing in the Movies. His nonfiction: The Half-Known World, a book on the craft of writing, ...more
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