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High Lonesome

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  319 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
High Lonesome is a darkly comic, fiercely tragic, and strikingly original odyssey into American life. This collection by the author of Airships and Bats Out of Hell explores lost moments in time with intensity, emotion, and an eye to the past. In "Uncle High Lonesome," a young man recalls his Uncle Peter, whose even temper was marred only by his drinking binges, which woul ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 11th 1997 by Grove Press (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 765)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 02, 2015 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
While trudging through a craggy cemetery in Oxford, Mississippi a few weeks ago, I realized I had forgotten to pick up some flowers, a pretty ridiculous oversight on my part considering that delivery of said flowers had been the entire purpose of this trip to said cemetery. I stopped underneath a tree to collect some trumpet flowers that had dropped from their vine in the middle of its strangulation act, and was given a nasty bite by this monstrously large black carpenter ant that had been hidin ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it
I often call Barry Hannah the greatest living writer and I stand by that statement. I'll reluctantly grant there may be three or four valid arguments to the contrary, his death in March 2010 being the least of them. Shit, man, I can't review this guy's books. They're my road maps. I'm like one of those obsessive Jimmy Buffett or Grateful Dead or Star Trek or model train persons when it comes to Barry Hannah's work. But maybe not. I'm giving this one four stars instead of five, for now. Hannah ha ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Steven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I think the language Hannah uses in the stories in this collection defies categorization. It is certainly idiosyncratic way beyond anything else I’ve read this year. It demands to be taken on its own terms. Pops you out of the smooth flow that most prose strives for, but if you give in to it, it drags you deep, deep, and deeper. There is no attempt here to write the way “one is supposed to write,” although I won’t go as far as saying there is an attempt to do the opposite. The words simply coher ...more
Kirk Smith
If I had, as a contemporary of Vincent van Gogh, stood in front of his Starry Night, would I have recognized the genius in it?? I must in all fairness, (and guilt for not knowing) try to acknowledge and promote the genius in Barry Hannah's writing. All of these short stories seem to be dipped in that quality, but my ability to appreciate all of these short stories is lacking. Perhaps only three of the thirteen short stories here reach me in the way that was intended. I will remain a fan of Hann ...more
May 02, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it
Not sure why I didn't have a rating for this one. But here's a snippet of an Amazon review I wrote for it a few years back:
Hannah's latest, High Lonesome, reasserts him as a master of the short story. The thirteen tragic and oddly funny tales range from "Get Some Young," in which an old shopkeeper and his wife become more than friends with an "almost too good-looking" boy, to "The Agony of T. Bandini," where the main trouble-maker is possibly a closeted homosexual and insists that "Everybody is
Robert Mcgehee
Jul 09, 2011 Robert Mcgehee rated it it was amazing
I'm not a book reviewer, can't speak to the technicalities of good writing, etc., but I know what like, and I like this man's work. The stories in this one are on the dark side, but humorous, the characters memorable, and there is a poinancy. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you will say to yourself that there are no people like these people. But there are; they live next door, down the block regardless of where you yourself live. The writing approaches poetry and when I'm reading it I can't think of a ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Scott rated it it was amazing
I will never forget the character named Sunballs. Mostly for his name. This colllection is good, but Bats Out of Hell is stronger.
Feb 16, 2011 Jim rated it it was ok
I pity the poor foreign fool tasked with trying to effectively translate this work; the unusual delivery and references will be difficult for a non-English speaker, let alone a non-Southerner. Although much admired and aplauded during his career, especially for his short stories, I can't say that I loved Hannah's selections that much. Some stories were ok, and he certainly opens vistas into the depravity of the region, but overall I wasn't that impressed. Luckily, I also started GERONIMO REX, wh ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absurd, sincere, heartbreaking, heartwarming, hilarious and explosive celebrations of life and the beautiful chaos that shapes it.

My favorites:
The Agony of T. Bandini
Drummer Down

"I write out of a greed for lives and language. A need to listen to the orchestra of living. It is often said that a writer is more alive than his peers. But I believe he might also be a sort of narcoleptic who requires constant waking up by his own imaginative work. He is closer to sleep and dream, and his memor
Ignacio Peña
Apr 17, 2016 Ignacio Peña rated it liked it
This is my first encounter with Barry Hannah, and his ability to slip into the voice of his characters is astounding. It is perhaps a shame then that most of the stories in this collection are various shades of the same broken, hyper-misogynist lost male of the south, if this is the view he is wishing to depict. There are some great stories in here (Taste Like a Sword, Uncle High Lonesome), but overall the view that runs through most of the stories feels overly repetitive without much gain. Drum ...more
Sep 20, 2009 Kyle rated it liked it
I think the key to making it through this collection of difficult stories, is reading it over a long period of time. Hannah's writing style is much like Pynchon's in that simply getting though a sentence or paragraph intelligibly can be a feat. Some stories have such a bizarre and wild delivery I needed to read them twice to simply understand the narrative (i.e. the almost Lynchean "Taste Like a Sword").

I normally hate this style of writing, but I think Barry Hannah's delivery, while difficult,
Jan 06, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
It's been hard to ignore all the reviews lately of Hannah's _Collected Fictions_, but I hate having to read all that much fiction at once. So instead, I got out one volume and read through it. As you can tell from my rating, I liked it a good deal.

Hannah's a bit weird, which is kind of an understatement, but also a bit weird for me to like. He's a Southern writer of the voicey kind, and seems by and large kind of invested in the hard drinking eccentric macho man thing, which isn't altogether in
Feb 14, 2014 Mique rated it liked it
Another series of short stories. I feel like I would of enjoyed how complex, compelling and well-written these stories are if I had read them at a better time. As it stands, I read this when writing a series of essays and was instead frustrated by the stories as they demanded too much thought that I wasn't necessarily in a position to give. Maybe I'll return to Barry Hannah later, at a better thought out time.
Joseph Duffy
Jun 01, 2015 Joseph Duffy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My first go-around on Barry Hannah's short fiction. You really come to respect Barry's range over the course of this work. About half of these stories are told in Hannah's classic mode of deranged, bewildering, surreality (e.g. Get Some Young, Taste Like a Sword etc.), while others such as A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis, are more straight forward (quotation marks and all) in their exploration of topics such as place, fishing, and childhood. High Lonesome is something like throwing David Lync ...more
May 21, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
We have dark humor, unhinged narrators, weird characters, pure and grotesque beauty in these stories of loneliness and desperation. Hannah's writing, as always, is searing and unrelenting. Enthralling, disturbing and creepily relatable.
Derek Allard
Dec 13, 2014 Derek Allard rated it it was ok
Hannah definitely has a unique style but I wasn't crazy about this book. It's largely character sketches of people circling the drain in one way or another. Usually I go for this kind of thing but his writing style is intentionally tough to read. Not always clear. This is my first Hannah book ... was expecting more both in subject matter and style.
Aug 14, 2010 Pat rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy it until the last three short stories - one, because I could understand them, two, they were not full of vulgarity, three, they made sense. I will not read any of his other books or short story collections. Also, the author did not use many commas and fragmented sentences. I did only fine one typographical error, though.
May 09, 2016 Jamie rated it really liked it
Wild and weird and somehow in that wildness and weirdness, true. I feel like I should have been reading Barry Hannah long before now. I feel like I’ll be making up for that from now on.

This just kept building and two of the last three stories, “The Ice Storm” and “Uncle High Lonesome,” together with “Repulsed,” are my votes for the best.
Jun 05, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
first story has some beautiful language, high voltage content. i'd never heard of him but i'm finding everything i can of his
Gideon Mann
Sep 07, 2010 Gideon Mann rated it liked it
Hit and miss collection -- "Get some young" creepy and great. others not so much.
Ben Lee
Jun 13, 2008 Ben Lee rated it really liked it
This collection has "Snerd and Niggero," one of the best short stories ever.
Tyler Malone
Jan 09, 2013 Tyler Malone rated it really liked it
Hannah was a master of the short story form.
Robert Smith
Jan 04, 2012 Robert Smith rated it it was amazing
Discovered it in undergrad decades ago...
Cole Brumley
Mar 25, 2013 Cole Brumley rated it it was ok
Great writing. Hate everybody in there.
Michael Seidel
May 26, 2009 Michael Seidel rated it it was amazing
Brutal brilliance.
Jan 04, 2008 Alexander rated it really liked it
i like the title.
ANNA   MAY    L.    GAKO
ANNA MAY L. GAKO rated it it was amazing
Jun 28, 2016
Nevermore marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2016
B. Mason
B. Mason marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2016
Drew Drabek
Drew Drabek marked it as to-read
Jun 21, 2016
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Barry Hannah was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi. He was the author of eight novels and five short story collections. He worked with notable American editors and publishers such as Gordon Lish, Seymour Lawrence, and Morgan Entrekin. His work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, and a host of American magazines and quarterl ...more
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