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Mendocino and Other Stories

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  508 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
With humor, wisdom and tenderness, Ann Packer offers ten short stories about women and men--wives and husbands, sisters and brothers, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, and lovers--who discover that life's greatest surprises may be found in that which is most familiar.

In the title story, on the anniversary of their father's suicide a young woman discovers that her
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 14th 2003 by Vintage (first published May 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

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May 18, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

An nice collection of stories by an excellent writer. The characters in the stories are at an age where their lives have already taken shape, and their careers or roles known. However there's something disappointing about it -- they have arrived but yet it's haunting, a goal so worked for, so desired, achieved and yet... feels out of tune, or out right empty.

You see that played out in the stories Mendocino, Nerves, Babies, Hightops, The Glass House, and Lightening.

Another common theme in the sto
Dec 29, 2015 Danie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I want to write like Ann Packer. I want to perfectly infuse a story with such brilliant little nuances of character and relationship. But alas... I don't write anywhere near as well as Ann Packer. Fortunately, I got to read this intimate collection of stories, many of which teased my brain after I'd finished them, challenging me to put the pieces together to reveal a greater theme and making me wonder what would become of the characters' lives beyond the page.

Some of the stories struck me more
Ben Hess
Aug 27, 2014 Ben Hess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Karen Nelson
Ann's excellent compilation of short stories - all set in Northern California, including Mendocino - consistently left me thinking about the characters, their plight, and their impact. I typically find short stories don't end well ... that we're left hanging, needing more. With Mendocino, even though the stories are a mix of first person and third person, large casts and small, I found them a delightful treat.
Dec 17, 2016 Nicole rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those in need of a safe gift
Patchett is a good writer, experienced and fully capable of weaving complex novel-length storylines. Though well written, these short stories were not at all complex. They were simple, straightforward glimpses into the lives of the very real, relatively flawed, could-be-your-neighbor characters. This is not a judgement, simply a fact.

Unlike more edgy short stories, I wasn't left feeling uncomfortable or somehow at a disadvantage. This is a book you could give to your mother's friend or the secre
Ellyn Lem
Jul 11, 2016 Ellyn Lem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be a good short story writer you have to know where to begin and end your story in order to keep our superfluous detail and Packer has that down. I came across this collection of her early short stories in a used book store and could already see the talent that she has brought out in her novels Dive from Clausen's Pier and The Children's Crusades. Her stories remind me of some of the great writers of that form Lorrie Moore and Alice Munroe (and Maile Meloy), but in some ways, without the cons ...more
May 01, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't normally make a point to read short stories but I saw this collection in a used bookstore a while back and I had enjoyed the author's well known novel, The Dive from Clausen's Pier, so much that I thought it was worth a look.

I think I enjoyed this even more than the novel. I think she has a gift for writing short stories in particular. She's able to establish (for me) personal connections to characters in such a short amount of time in that you feel intimately connected to and invested i
Apr 21, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stories, good characters, well written. I liked that these characters were normal people. there didn't have to be quirky characters or unrealistic scenarios. But, and it's an interesting but, I found most of the stories utterly lacking in the ending category. I recently published a couple of short story collections. A number of co-workers and friends who have now read my stories for the first time complain that they are too short (which they probably are) and the endings just leave them wan ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
The first story, "Mendocino," was definitely the worst in the collection, and while things got a bit better thereafter, the book pretty much failed to hold my interest. Packer's observations herein don't really shed any new light on anything, which isn't necessarily what you look for in an author, but it doesn't hurt; it's also disconcerting when time after time those observations, which you know are trying to shed unique light on a situation, fall flat and come off as mundane. Several of these ...more
Sarah Sammis
Mar 29, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it
Shelves: released
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2012 Carolyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
An impulse led me to my bookshelves where I pulled down this book. It had a birthday card inside from 2005. The card looked like a dream I'd had the night before, so I re-read the book - a collection of finely-wrought stories all different from each other, in tone, in character - none earth-shaking or emotionally taut, not memorable either (clearly) but all with quiet perception of late-century, middle-class Americans.
This is the year of the short story on the podcast Books on the Nightstand. I decided to read a few collections, and this is my second (I think) this year. Packer's stories are set mostly in northern California where she lives and have a stong sense of place. I was not disappointed in this collection which was poignant at times, and occasionally funny.
Sep 28, 2015 Cindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A favorite author writing short stories...a toss up for me. But I plunged in and was disappointed. Well-written, but nothing memorable. In fact, when I read the list of stories, I was unable to recall details of them. At least with short stories, it's easy to pick up and put down. not exactly a glowing recommendation.
Jul 06, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe Ann Packer was going through some personal tribulations during the timeframe in which she composed these short stories: many of them are intimate portrayals of solitude, loneliness, and the thwarted desire for a child. This collection showcases Packer’s talent for short, poignant stories—each a melancholic gem.
Jan 16, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Well- I've got to say that though the writing was good, I came away from most of the stories feeling empty and flat, as if I was missing the dinal chapter of a book or something. I'm quite disappointed, because I thought The Dive From Claussen's Pier well done. I couldn't relate to most of the characters.
Mar 25, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like short stories. It's nice bite size reading for bed time. Plus, if one story sucks, you just go to the next one. These stories have great characters. Sometimes the stories are so relatable that they're almost painful to read. I think Ms. Mary Cunningham gave me this book, but I can't remember.
Sep 25, 2007 Kristine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flawless collection of short stories about seemingly ordinary people. I began reading this during a road trip Labor Day weekend and COULD NOT put it down. My joy for this book is only surpassed by my finding that the author will be in my city for an appearance next week, yes ....
Mar 15, 2008 Leah rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. I read it after I really enjoyed The Dive From Clausen's Pier and found that I like Packer's short stories even more. Each story was like a little snapshot of real people.
Dec 29, 2007 Beth rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Short Stories fans
After reading this book back to back with "Later, At the Bar" I found myself annoyed that none of the stories had anything to do with each other. Few of the charachters gripped me in the way that an Alice Munro can.
Katie O'Connell
May 30, 2007 Katie O'Connell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was completely drawn in to each of these stories. And I loved the way they finished - not neatly tied up, but also not some big cliffhanger. I wanted more, but could also sort of imagine what else would have happened afterwards (because I felt like I understood the characters well).
Jul 27, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Ann Packer, will you marry me? This is everything I want in a short story collection. The stories sort of go together, but you can't explain or pinpoint why. They're lovely and feel sort of like they're full of people you might have known, doing things you never knew about.
May 21, 2008 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think my problem is that I really just don't like short stories. They always leave me feeling emtpy and wanting more. I think that is the point but it doesn't satisfy me the way reading a novel usually does. :)
Aug 05, 2008 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Packer's characters and plots are very believable. She has a way of capturing the unspoken feelings between people. I enjoyed this short story collection a lot.
Jun 26, 2008 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2008
Packer has a way of grasping and worrying over the most subtle emotions and interactions. These stories were wholly human and satisfying. My favorites were the title story and "Tillman and I."
Abby Sominski
Dec 16, 2007 Abby Sominski rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed these stories by Ann Packer, much more than I have enjoyed her novels. I hope she puts out another collection soon!
Leigh Sophia
Oct 12, 2013 Leigh Sophia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really do enjoy short stories. i haven't been in any hurry to finish the book. but she has two books i'll be reading right away.
Maria (Ri)
This was ok, but, I was looking for a little more. I enjoyed Dive from Clausen's Pier because I knew the characters so intimately. That felt a little missing in the short stories.
Apr 20, 2011 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spare, beautiful, slightly melancholy stories. Not at all what I would have expected from the author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier (which is a great read--just a very different one).
LOVE LOVE LOVE this author. Her short stories are amazing anf I love how they leave you feeling satisfied and wanting more at the same time. Quick but lasting stories.
Elisabeth Kinsey
Ann Packer makes me want to pretend I never took it upon myself to write, since, in comparison, that is not what I do. She is amazing. Keys in the bowl. That's all I gotta say.
Nov 29, 2009 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book! Each story pulled me in quickly and was fully engaging. I'm generally not a huge fan of short stories, but every story in this collection was a gem!
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Ann Packer is the acclaimed author of two collections of short fiction, Swim Back to Me and Mendocino and Other Stories, and three bestselling novels, The Children's Crusade, Songs Without Words, and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, which received the Kate Chopin Literary Award, among many other prizes and honors. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and in the O. Henry Prize Stories anth ...more
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