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100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: A Memoir
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100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: A Memoir

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Bret and Kim Stafford, the oldest children of the poet and pacifist William Stafford, were pals. Bret was the good son, the obedient public servant, Kim the itinerant wanderer. In this family of two parent teachers, with its intermittent celebration of “talking recklessly,” there was a code of silence about hard things: “Why tell what hurts?” As childhood pleasures ebbed, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Trinity University Press
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  163 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
We are so lucky here in Oregon and I tend to take it for granted. One of the ways that we are lucky: so many wonderful Oregon writers. Kim Stafford is one. Even better, he teaches at one of our local colleges, Lewis & Clark. Better still, he is head of the Northwest Writing Institute and teaches workshops to adults. I hope to one day take a class from him.

I heard the tail end of an interview with Stafford, who also happens to be former poet laureate William Stafford's son, on our local publ
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is rare to read a book and find yourself knowing a friend so much better than you had before. I can divide my experience of reading 100 Tricks into two parts: appreciating the book and writer, and learning about my friend. Inevitably I'll tell you about both.

First, know that this is book of suicide and could be very helpful to anyone who has known someone close to end their own life. It is also the story of two brothers, growing up almost twins they were so very close and becoming very differ
Mary Lou
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do by Kim Stafford is a memoir that touched me on many levels. A short book, it is easy to read because sections are one to five pages. describes seemingly random events and memories although the stated purpose of the book is to evoke discussion about Stafford’s older brother who committed suicide in 1988.

In the Afterward, Stafford explains this approach, “I have my memory of him, my own life episodes that feel in keeping with his story, and what I am learning with my s
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It isn't a spoiler to say that this book is about the suicide of the author's brother. Ultimately, though, the book isn't so much about the suicide as it is the relationship between the two brothers, and how their family's dynamics had a major impact on how each man "turned out." Kim Stafford is an excellent writer who is excruciatingly honest about everything he relates, whether he's describing his own flaws, his brother's worsening depression, or his famous father's own family woes. (His fathe ...more
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes honesty can be breathtaking. Sometimes you want to read faster, to inhale all that there is, and yet you want to read slower, to absorb all that there is.

I would set Luis Alberto Urrea's Wandering Time as a fitting companion for 100 Tricks, which is no coincidence.
Feb 19, 2017 marked it as could-not-finish
Shelves: senior-year
I was supposed to read this for class, and I feel bad, but I really just didn't care. At all. So I ended up not reading it.
Abby Howell
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had a funny reaction to this book, perhaps in part because a former colleague of mine just committed suicide a few weeks ago. I loved the prologue, and loved the final chapters of the book. In between, I found myself getting impatient with the repetition of all of Kim Stafford's memories of his brother. I just wanted to shout "We get it; you didn't know your brother as well as you thought you did." But by the end, especially in his explanation chapters of why he wrote what he wrote--how import ...more
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked some parts and some parts were just okay. He has a gift for syntax and imagery. Some of the comments about memoir writing and the power of stories toward the end of the book are insightful, helping me (as a teacher) address some of the issues related to memoir writing. Here's one example: "The factual details of memory alone may be suspect, but the meanings they sift from the forgotten--these may be the gold we carry still when our treasure is gone."
Trinity University Press
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read it cover to cover. Heartbreaking yet so full of life and love. An amazing testament to family and the heart.
Waverly Fitzgerald
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
What a beautiful book.

I appreciated the lovely language, the collage-like format (short sections and scenes, told out of time), and learning more about the remarkable Stafford family. It begins with a scene between Kim Stafford and his son talking about the suicide of Kim's brother Bret. Then we go back in time and learn about the events leading up to Bret's suicide. The section that follows introduces us to the two brothers, Kim and Bret, their similarities and differences, as they grow up, ge
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, oregon-author
Suicide was the trick that didn't work: this memoir begins with the suicide of Kim's older brother, and continues back and forth between their boyhood closeness and their adult separation. Kim naturally looks for clues he must have missed, and wonders why there were so many things they didn't share. This is an interesting look at a family that was unusual for the time: academic, pacifist, teetotalling, and often no better than communicating than the rest of us. "How much warning did my brother g ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, evoked deep emotion in this reader. Stafford's prose lights the world.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a little difficult to describe just what this book is. The prose is chewy—I decided to wait a few days to return the book to the library so I could re-read and more closely consider certain passages. Kim Stafford has, pardon the pun, gone for the jugular in his content, thereby exposing a personal account of what he and to some extent his family went through after his brother's suicide in the late 1980s. The book feels a little oddly structured at times, but contains some masterful passages ...more
William Stafford, poet laureate of Oregon, and his wife had two sons and two daughters. The boys, Bret and Kim, were born only 14 months apart. As small boys, they did nearly everything together, told each other everything, and never fought. Each night, with their beds close together, the last thing each said softly to the other was: "Good night, God bless you, Have sweet dreams, See you tomorrow."

In their early teens, some of their intimacy evaporated. They stopped telling each other everythin
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
As sad as the subject of this book is (the suicide of Kim's brother Bret), I found this book to be very courageous and endearing. Kim Stafford says "I write my stories of my brother. These are the stories that are mine to tell." In many ways this book is memoir of Kim's life, his time with his brother, growing up together in Oregon. I'm envious of the nature adventures they had growing up in Oregon, with its mountains and rivers and the Pacific Ocean. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and would h ...more
World Literature Today
"Kim Stafford’s moving memoir of loss and guilt about the suicide of his beloved brother, Bret, at age forty is brilliantly conceived and fascinatingly written. Told in small chunks of narrative anecdotes, it becomes both an exhaustive catalog of memories of the brothers’ shared moments of intimacy and isolation and a valiant attempt to understand the talented Bret’s descent into darkness." - Marvin J. LaHood, Amherst, New York

This book was reviewed in the September 2013 issue of World Literatur
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I am glad I read this book. It is the story of the author’s relationship with his brother who committed suicide. The book, in my view, is too long. It is written well, but feels like it is edited poorly. There are many good things in here to mine. For my work I find this book helpful to think about paying attention to people and situations I might otherwise neglect. I appreciate the author’s honoring of his brother and not trying to resolve an unsolvable mystery.
Jason Beem
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I actually had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Kim a week or so after I finished the book. I had been working on my own book and he gave me some great insights to how came about finally writing this book and telling the stories. It's just so pure and his writing is so easy to take in. I never found myself having to re-read passages and wonder what exactly he was saying or was meaning. It was there on the page and it was full of life and feeling.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
For Oregonians, the name Stafford holds a special place. William Stafford was poet laureate here and taught at Lewis and Clark College. In 1988, William Stafford's older son, Bret, committed suicide. Kim Stafford, Bret's younger brother, is also a poet and teaches at Lewis and Clark College. His memoir about his relationship with, and loss of, his brother is written in an easy flowing style. He has taken many years to gather himself to write this and his reflections are clear and touching.
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This one is interesting. It's told in little vignettes, a format I really like--I'm into lots of pieces cohering into a whole. At times, though, I wasn't sure about why which pieces went where. But ultimately, it's well-written, heartfelt, comes together, and made me cry and think about my own approach to life. I guess it wasn't at ALL moments as crazy astounding as I thought it might be when I started it, but it's pretty damn good.
Sandy Hiorns
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
This author, in order to resolve his grief over his brother's suicide, told the story of life with his brother when they were young. I liked the author's style of writing but tired of the little vignettes. Just when I was about to put the book down, he tied it all together and I really enjoyed reading the conclusion.
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is truly an honest moving and poignant book. I think it might be a useful book for anyone whose life has been touched by the suicide of a loved one. It was interesting on many levels to read about their life in Oregon. Not always an easy read but worthwhile and quite an achievement by the author. Kim Stafford is also a great speaker and well worth hearing live.
Theresa Sivelle
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a different style of book then I typically read. I think that the author was trying to grapple with his brothers suicide through writing about both the author and brothers lives. They are little pieces of memories. It was an interesting look into his memories of their lives. I especially loved reading about Oregon and their hiking and camping in the state where I live.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An honest, soul-searching, heart-wrenching book that remembers the life of a beloved older brother and searches for peace and understanding 25 years after his death. The story lurches forward with only memories to sustain it, but finally finds a voice of acceptance. Thank you, Kim Stafford, for sharing your story.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stafford's brother committed suicide 25 years ago. In this memoir he attempts to come to grips with his relationship with his brother and his own story. Told in a series of vignettes he builds to a crescendo where we begin to see the entire picture. Stafford, like is his father, is a poet. His language is exact and these stories are both sweet and piercing.
Jennifer Lynn
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I always find it hard to rate a personal account of someone's life. How can a person say they did not enjoy it when you know you are going into it that it is something truthful and not embellished?
John Orman
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The poet William Stafford had two sons, Kim and Bret. This memoir by Kim is mainly about the travails of Bret, who suffered an early death by suicide. An intimate and harrowing tale.
Melanie Brooks
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stafford's mosaic structure to his book puzzles together the story and impact of his brother's suicide.
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stunning. I recommend this book to anyone whose life has been touched by suicide, depression, or loss of a loved one. A gorgeous look into memory of life and family.
Cynthia Sillitoe
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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Kim Robert Stafford is an American poet and essayist who lives in Portland, Oregon. Stafford received a B.A. in 1971, an M.A. in English in 1973 and a Ph.D. in medieval literature in 1979 from the University of Oregon. Since 1979, he has taught writing at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. He has also taught courses at Willamette University in Salem, at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, at ...more