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Cold Snap

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Thom Jones's second collection of stories takes its readers into an edgy, overadrenalized world of desire, mania and rage. Following his extraordinary debut in The Pugilist at Rest, Thom Jones returned with a collection of unparalleled fire and vision. Jones takes us from down-and-out in America to death and disease in Rwanda, introducing us to hard-luck fighters steeling ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published August 7th 2000 by Faber Faber (first published 1995)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  741 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this book and never have a happy thought for the rest of your life.
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Son of a bitch, there's a cold snap and I do this number where I leave all the faucets running ..."

I'd give it five stars just for that opening, which begins the title story, which is a piece of brilliance. Hope he's still out there writing.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brutal and Brittle
I first ran into Thom Jones at Portland Community College, of course not in person, but his short story “I Want to Live!” was assigned for analysis in a creative writing class. I immediately wanted to know more, read more and find out if his greatness prevailed in the rest of his work. So I must admit that I picked up his book with a favorable bias in my pocket. In Cold Snap, Jones’ second collection of short stories, there is a strong voice telling tales where there are often
Thom Jones (try bringing him up in conversation, your second sentence will be, "No, not the guy who sang 'It's Not Unusual'") never went to Vietnam. But he writes about boxers, soldiers, and the mentally ill with startling precision. In his previous collection, "The Pugilist at Rest", the characters are some combination of all three of these, and you buy every word, you believe he was there, and on a certain level, that you are there. "Cold Snap" is nowhere near being a worthy follow-up. When I ...more
Joe Noto
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is a collection of dark stories that are separate from each other, but all share a melancholy, hopeless, and submissive tone. Seems like every main character is hanging by a thread and doesn't care. It got old pretty quickly sadly. The first pages are A++, the first three stories are great, and the last story is kind of good, but that's it. I liked the overall darkness of the book, which kept me reading.

The Red Rocket story was awfully unreadable. I found myself skimming through this o
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I went through a short story phase, that's all I read, and this is another great collection of stories. I think Jones is at his best describing war and the military; his style of prose just fits the topic. His other stories are interesting but don't have the same power. His love of boxing is showcased in the last story of the book. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first three stories in, "The Pugilist at Rest," but those three stories are the gold-standard for how a short war story should be wri ...more
Jett Bailey
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mr. Jones' first collection of short stories, 'The Pugilist at Rest', blew me away. I recall closing the cover on the final story in the collection and breathing a quiet "Dammmn..." from the emotional gut punch. I picked up 'Cold Snap' hoping for more of the same impassioned, soulful writing and got...ehhhh. 'Cold Snap' settles into a sad but comfortable groove and kind of stays there. All of the stories deal with similar bleak themes, defeated characters, and familiar subject matter (Africa, ai ...more
"Don't come the raw prawn with me, Dorey," I says. "Don't do me block; I'm no drongo's potato peeler. Wilbur, Col, and Bluey are me mates and there's no more to it. It's you that's been dipping around. Commitin' the intimacy. Don't cometh the uncooked crustacean."
Peter Derk
The great ones are great, the not great ones are a little tedious.

I've been on this quest to read a bunch of the books I bought and never got to. Because after reading them, I can usually donate/recycle/trash most of them.

Honestly, I've been leaving most of them in a little free library on the college campus near my apartment.

Little free libraries are kind of hilarious. Do you ever look in one regularly? It's almost entirely shit. Not even shit like, "This is stuff I don't want to read." Shit li
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
More adrenaline-pumping-thru-the-heart, seat-of-the-pants, do-you-kiss-your-mother-with-that-mouth stories in the vein of his first collection, Pugilist At Rest. Some real rippers in here, but more hit-and-miss than his earlier collection. Rocketfire Red, for instance, may be the worst story put into print. But the heart is still there, burning all the way through. Bloody bonza, mate, bung 'er on a plate.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
prose that’s dense but still manages to zoom. stories are high-octane yet half-despairing, lives often caught between continents. fed my risk-craving tendencies in book form.

i loved it less by the end, but was so charmed by his acknowledgments (love for craft, love for editors, frankness about mental health) that three stars became four.
Zach Smith
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book in a discount bookstore and picked it up for 3$ because it was a story collection, and I recognized the name from Best American Short Stories. I was further suprized when a friend had told me that Thom Jones was “required reading for minimalist writers” having read the story “I Want to Live!” (from BASS) a dosen times, and this collection, I’m not so sure this is accurate, it is not distinctively minimalist, maybe he had Jones confused with someone else. I would like to get som ...more
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Krys by: James Burford, Lisa Stolley
In Cold Snap, Tom Jones's themes are pretty limited: doctors, africa, diabetes, drugs, petty crime, boxing. That seems like quite the variety until you discover every story recycles two or three of these themes, without said reconfigurations adding any deeper appreciation of the themes he is beating to death.

I loved his story "I want to Live" which I believe appeared in his previous collection, but here nothing to impress me. Characters often felt 2-dimensional, and even the nuances of "saving l
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't read his first collection of short stories, The Pugilist at Rest, so I can't comment on whether or not these are warmed-over leftovers. But I enjoyed these stories. Someone else listed the reoccurring themes, but they left out mental illness (along with diabetes, petty crime, drugs, various adrenaline-producing pursuits...). My favorite had to be Rocketfire Red, the only story with a female protagonist. The Australian vernacular was delightful: "Just tell the cook to knock off its horns ...more
Barksdale Penick
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
In this collection of short stories Thom Jones explores many of the same themes in Cold Snap as in The Pugilist at Rest--boxing, Vietnam, mental instability, and dying. There were some very solid tales in this collection, but overall it was not as strong as The Pugilist, which I loved. I don't usually choose to read short stories, as I find it a little disappointing to spend a while getting familiar with a setting and theme and have it end. These stories do hearken back to short stories from ear ...more
“Son of a bitch, there’s a cold snap and I do this number where I leave all the faucets running…”

He got me with that opening line. In this collection of short stories, Thom Jones writes about boxers, doctors, diabetes, soldiers in their dire funny situations. There's drugs, diabetes, mental illness, Global Aid, Africa and whatnots. Just when things got so intense, the author will pull back. It was edgy, raw & relentless.

This book can rob you of all the beautiful thoughts. It's like everythin
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grit-lit
An excellent follow-up to "The Pugilist at Rest." Many of the same formulas and characters, (including a surprise reappearance of Ad Magic!) The sense of time and place is quite different, particularly the story about a Global Aid worker in Africa, who ends up completely destroyed, due in part to the despair and futility he encounters, but also his steady diet of whatever intoxicants he can get his hands on. However, leave it to Jones to turn a dire situation into a hilarious one by adding a bou ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The quality of work here seems erratic. Edginess can only take you so far. I was sucked into the craziness of several stories. "Quicksand" was quirky and great.

When he's playing with the mind of a man, Jones seems right on. When he talks of white men and Africa, he seems to know the heart of darkness. When he strays into other territories, he totally misfires. "Rocketfire Red" seemed like an excuse to write a story in an Aussie dialect. "I Need a Man to Love Me" was simply irritating.

Jones is
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it
While some stories in this collection may be a 5, in my mind, some stories were rushed and weak. If you are a Thom Jones fan, go ahead and read this book, there are some great stories in the collection. When you find a Thom Jones story and you like the characters it is a great read, when you can't relate to any of the characters, it's a long and painful read. I would also say this was the most depressing of his 3-collections.
Lee Harrington
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best--and most influential--story collections of all times. So many stories in this collection are masterpieces. I use "Cold Snap" in nearly all of my creative writing workshops as an example of a brilliant first-person narrative. Mostly, I just love Thom's energy and sense of humor. It's no wonder he's a superstar. Love you, Mr. Jones!
Apr 09, 2015 added it
Thom Jones is one of the best contemporary short story writers I know. He has two other books, I recommend all of them. They often read like essays; the narrators are usually on the edge of falling off whatever raft they are on, they're brilliantly insane, or just compellingly witty, and they always know how to break your heart in their weird way. There's no one else like him.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Poor Richard and his baby sister. How could somebody live like this. It is really a sad, dark, hopeless story but, at least, for god's sake, they have each other. On the other hand, I feel grateful to my current life. And I believe I won't be depressed whenever thinking of Richard's situation...
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I started reading this one put it down. Seemed to repeat his work on "Pugilist..." Eponymous story is great.
Collection of stories. Jones's second book. Great storytelling- great style and voice.
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Baboons drinking whiskey.
Jun 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Somewhat of a sophomore slump but still worth a read.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
I can't get into short stories.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
No pugilist at rest, but a couple of excellent stories.
I parodied this in my novel Uncorrected Proof (see )
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great tough-guy fiction.
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Thom Jones (born January 26, 1945) was an American writer, primarily of short stories.

Jones was raised in Aurora, Illinois, and attended the University of Hawaii, where he played catcher on the baseball team. He later attended the University of Washington, from which he graduated in 1970, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, from which he received an M.F.A. in 1973.
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