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In the Suicide Mountains

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  233 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
An intricately woven fable filled with magical creatures—and astonishing surprises

In this wonderful fantasy, John Gardner weaves tales within tales to bring a magical world to vivid life. When three travelers on their way to the Suicide Mountains meet an enigmatic man, the Abbot of the Ancient Monastery, they begin a series of wild adventures in which they must confront my
ebook, 158 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Open Road Integrated Media (first published 1977)
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May 15, 2012 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of modern-day fairy tale retellings
A book like no other - a charming, memorable, unbounded modern fairy tale for adults. Set in an indeterminate time and place (vaguely Slavic, vaguely Belle Epoque, with some medieval elements), it's the story of a good-hearted but widely despised magic shape-shifting dwarf ... a beautiful maiden strong as an ox who pretends to be stupid and weak so men will adore her ... and a prince who'd rather play the violin than joust. When they all decide to go up to the Suicide Mountains to end their live ...more
Oct 10, 2008 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone pver tje age pf 12
Shelves: favorites
One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Probably meant for the YA reader, but great reading for anyone over the age of 12. This is a wonderful fantasy chronicling the adventures of a dwarf in denial about his feelings, a woman in denial her unladylike abilities, and a prince who doesn't want to be a prince as they seek to come to terms with themselves and their responsibilities.
Daniel Cunningham
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this. Turns out, it is very much a fairy-tale, though written for adults (heads getting chopped off, first three characters meet on their ways to commit suicide, etc.) I really liked the illustrations... and it was a good read (1 hour? 2 hours, max.)
Dec 28, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I am going to choose to disagree with the other reviewers on this particular book. I'm not going to suggest that it isn't well-written, as usual with Gardner, it is very well-written. It is even entertaining, in places. But to call it one of Gardner's best, I think, is to cheapen the rest of his work. This, in many ways, is Gardner's love letter to the fable and fairy tale. The stories told by the abbot are re-tellings of traditional Russian fairy tales according to the biography at the end of t ...more
Adam Clemente
I'm torn between a 2 star and a 3 star review for this book... It certainly had its moments.
But while there were a few funny lines here and there, as well as a handful of thought provoking concepts, 'In the Suicide Mountains' pales in comparison to Gardner's 'Grendel' which is not only better written and more substantial, but also loaded with sharp, solid comedy.
'In the Suicide Mountains' seemed to only skim the surface of its major symbolic talking points and its story arc felt somewhat flat.
Alan Marchant
In the Suicide Mountains is an interlinked collection of mostly original, but not revisionist, fairy tales. (The six-fingered man, who appears prominently, appears to be unconsciously borrowed from William Goldman.)

John Gardner is intent on showing the classic genre is compatible with richness of character, social ambiguity, and clever dialog. An as always his prose is pitch perfect. The sketches by Joe Servello are generous and appropriate, but not remarkable. Altogether a very pleasant little
Mar 08, 2015 Jc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Gardner (not to be confused with a couple of other J.G.'s, such as the British author of a number of James Bond novels) may well be my number-one, all-time favorite American literary author. This late 1970s work is a wonderfully clever adult fairy tale, including dwarfs, ghosts, dragons, damsels in distress, brave knights, and magic. But, it is not for kids, and it is not for those who don't expect to need to think a bit about what they are reading.
Cheering fairy tale for misplaced adults, utilizing fantasy as depression medication, found randomly in the children's section of A. Parker's on Main while accompanying a friend who was looking for self help books. Moral of the story: acceptance of oneself is key to contentment. That doesn't quite answer the six-fingered man's fate, though.
Feb 19, 2012 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love John Gardner's Grendel, but this story is more charming and light. The twisted fairy tale and tongue-in-cheek humor reminds me of Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham or Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks. Amusing reading.
Oct 03, 2007 Janice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A good book in theory but very choppy to read. I don't think Gardner weaves the larger story big enough to hold all the smaller ones. I was disappointed. I read his Grendl back in high school and was similarly befuddled by it.
Kevin Bell
Apr 09, 2008 Kevin Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This is a wonderful story by a wonderful writer. His absolute mastery of the genre is apparent, but he doesn't throw it in your face. The tale itself is exquisitely poignant and really quite enjoyable. A great read, but not for children.
William Crosby
Stories within stories reminiscent of "1001 Arabian Nights" and Aesop's Fables. However, the stories change the usual circumstances (e.g. maiden saving prince).
Aug 18, 2007 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This light-hearted fairy tale is my favorite book. The implications of role and personhood are profound - yet delivered so simply that the book is appropriate for a person of any age.
Feb 20, 2016 Breqqie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to know how I feel about this book. It was interesting, and I liked parts of it, but overall there wasn't much there.
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John Champlin Gardner was a well-known and controversial American novelist and university professor, best known for his novel Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf myth.

Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. His father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer, and his mother taught English at a local school. Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together. As a child, Gardner
More about John Gardner...

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“Our noblest hopes grow teeth and pursue us like tigers.” 14 likes
“We human beings glimpse lofty ideals, catch ourselves betraying them, and sink to suicidal despair--despair from which only the love of our friends can save us, since friends see in us those nobler qualities we ourselves, out of long familiarity, have forgotten we possess. That, of course, is why the suicidal person is difficult around his friends.” 1 likes
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