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Corpus Christi: Stories

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  39 reviews
From an acclaimed and award-winning young writer comes an intensely moving debut collection set in the eye of life’s storms. In Corpus Christi, Texas—a town often hit by hurricanes— parents, children, and lovers come together and fall apart, bonded and battered by memories of loss that they feel as acutely as physical pain.

A car accident joins strangers linked by an intim
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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John Luiz
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first became aware of Brett Anthony Johnston because of a terrific story that he had in the Fall 2011 issue of American Short Fiction titled “Paradeability” about a father coping with the aftermath of his wife’s death and his son’s obsession with learning how to become a clown, which is the boy’s way of coping with his mother’s loss. It’s a greatly paced and nuanced story, offering wonderful insights into how the father and son cope with tragedy. All the skill at display in that piece made me ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so intensely that I feel like I'm confessing secrets by writing about it. It's one of those books I don't want to recommend to people because if they read it and don't feel destroyed and reborn I will probably like them less and never ever invite them to my birthday parties ever again. I still have a hard time explaining why this collection of stories flattens me so entirely, and I suspect others might find it occasionally hokey or even exploitative. For me though, it strikes al ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Johnston was my workshop teacher at the VQR Writers Conference in 2018. I read his novel before we met, and this collection (which was published first) afterwards. He's very good at pulling together human emotions and even extreme actions out of his all-encompassing sense of place and atmosphere, the hot, humid, frequently stormy seaside town of Corpus Christi. I read these stories slowly and with great pleasure.
Laura Leaney
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Bret Anthony Johnston's collection is comprised of stories linked together by setting; they all take place in Corpus Christi, and various characters appear in more than one story; but unlike Elizabeth Strout's marvelous book Olive Kitteridge, these stories are tedious! They are mostly domestic in subject matter: dying or dead relationships between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, sons and fathers, et cetera. And there's nothing wrong with that, except when the minutia of living - and all t ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Normally I'm not a fan of short stories but occasionally I find a talented author who can change my mind about the format such as Jess Walter (We Live in Water), Annie Proulx (Close Range) or Russell Banks (Permanent Member of the Family). More often I am left frustrated by short stories either being boring, leaving things so underdeveloped in the plot or characters rendering the story pointless, or trying too hard to be clever, bizarre or open-ended. All that said, I was delightfully surprised ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After finishing Johnston's book Remember Me Like This, I knew I'd discovered an author I would want to read again. He hasn't written another novel, but I discovered his book of short stories.

I took me a while to finish this because some of the stories made me so emotional that I just had to put it down between them. I'm not one who enjoys a good cry, I want to ignore those feelings and move on. But don't misunderstand - not all of the stories are sad. But they ARE all touching and extremely well
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
5 stars! This is the best collection of short stories I've read in a long time...such a promising debut. It's clear the author has toiled to make the writing as fresh, concise and sharp as it is. The stories themselves are stunning, and will stay with you. They brought me to a town -- an entire universe --I never thought to explore. So glad I did.
Zach VandeZande
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Good god, these stories. Bret Anthony Johnston's collection reminds us what is to be human, that it is something fundamentally sad and full of longing. The three stories about Lee Marhsall and his mother, in particular, are some of the most powerful, perceptive stories I've ever read.
Elliot Sanders
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I was thrilled with the BASS selected story, and enjoyed several of the others, but several fell flat, in my opinion. Constant POV changing was also an issue for me in several pieces.
Valentina Stella
Un libro in teoria tristissimo che però riesce a raccontare il tema della morte con una dolcezza infinita, esplorando la natura umana e le sue debolezze, i suoi momenti eroici, le sue fragilità. Sono racconti che gravitano attorno a Corpus Christi, città del Texas, sono quasi completamente slegati l’uno dall’altro, ma andando avanti con le pagine capisci che un filo che lega tutto c’è.
Ho letto le ultime pagine piangendo. Ed è stato bello.
Jackie Law
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Corpus Christi, by Bret Anthony Johnston, is a collection of ten short stories exploring the intimacies of human relationships. Each story is set in or around the town of Corpus Christi in Texas, USA. There are crossovers within the tales such that the reader quickly becomes immersed in the setting.

The relationships in each story vary. Some are familial, cross generational; others feature friendship, sometimes lovers. There are accidents, violence, stormy weather and loss. The challenges of livi
Adrian Stumpp
Johnston didn't teach a writing seminar at Weber State I was supposed to attend, and in preparation for his cancellation, I read this collection of short stories. There are no flat out duds. There are no works of genius. Two of them are above average. The rest teeter on the border between average and slightly below average. Johnston is at his best when he dares to try something different, although I should say he never tries anything very much different. The cycle of stories concerning the prepa ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of hearing Bret speak during one of my visits to Corpus where he was promoting his newest book, Remember Me Like This. He is a graduate of my high school who has gone on to much greater things--trading in a career as a professional skate-boarder and ultimately teaching creative writing at Harvard. He's a charming and personable speaker as well as a graduate of the fabulous Iowa Writers' Workshop (where I believe this book originated.) All that said, Corpus Christi Stories is n ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most people who follow even just a clutch of literary magazines are familiar with Bret Anthony Johnston's stories, which consistently grace the "Best Of" anthology, while also appearing in a wide range of magazines, including Ploughshares, The Paris Review, and others.

And much like that work, this (now early) volume in Johnston's career shows off what he's best at: writing about the raw and painful thoughts that come in the quiet moments of lives that are being pushed to the point of breaking.

Mary Johnson
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
There are some beauties in this book, but for a collection of stories named by the place in which they are set, I didn't emerge with much of a sense of the uniqueness of Corpus Christi. I grew up in Southeast Texas, and was hoping for more of a sense of place. Johnston's very human characters find themselves in tough situations and relationships, and the stories are all beautifully told. I particularly enjoyed the story "In the Tall Grass," told by an adult from his perspective as a child. So ma ...more
Sian Griffiths
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This collection's dust jacket quotes the Boston Sunday Globe, which says "These stories are relentlessly sober, large-hearted, and intense," and yes. Yes to all three descriptions. The stories focus on everyday kind of tragedies: cancer, infidelity, parental failures. Throughout, the writing is beautiful. The setting of Corpus Christi both grounds and unifies the collection. Part of me wants to warn potential readers that these stories are not terribly uplifting, but as soon as I think such a th ...more
Adam Gardner
Dec 21, 2007 rated it liked it
From this book I learned that just when you thought your mother had defeated cancer it can come back and kill her and that can be sad and complicated and can cause you to reassess the value of your past relationship with her, and too, the rest of the world, but it also brings hope since the pending funeral would probably cause your lost love to return to town, resulting in sex mixed with death, which is deeply literal and empty and both guilt-ridden and redeeming. In addition, this book taught m ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots of carefully considered and revealing stories in here about the relationship of parents and children. With the caring of aging parents by their adult children being a mega-trend with the large aging cohort of baby boomers over the next 10 years, this theme is timely and appreciated. It is also universal.

The book is easy to read and simple in language and style. I'd recommend it to those interested in the themes above and also I'd recommend it to anyone from that part of the country (around
The Awdude
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A great book usually does one of two things: it drops a bomb on your brain, or it drops a bomb on your heart. Outside of Joyce, both at the same time is rare. But sometimes authors can still drop a really really big bomb on one or the other. McCarthy is one of the brain bombers; Bret Anthony Johnston is one of the heart bombers. The stories in Corpus Christi hit you over and over again with the kind of love that makes you feel okay about humanity. They're all set in Corpus, and that's another gr ...more
Jo-anne Atkinson
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
A series of short stories about the people of Corpus Christi, a city on the Gulf of Mexico, hot and occasionally stormy. The people are working class in the main and their lives are simple yet each has a story to tell. Many of the tales are linked and several feature the same characters over a period of time.

I have to admit that I am not a fan of short stories but this collection could convert me. The writing is wonderful, Johnston gets under the skin of his characters and describes their feelin
Susan Merrell
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, evocative descriptions are the hallmarks of this set of linked short stories. Each of the stories is utterly complete, as full and developed as is possible, showcasing one marvelous aspect of the short story form--that within it one can create a whole and emotionally rich moment that resonates with both the past and future outside the story's apparent limits. Johnston does this, seemingly effortlessly, and when the stories do link with one another, as is particular to a set of three s ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a powerful collection of linked short stories which clearly demonstrates Johnston’s writing talent and ability to get under the skin of his characters. He writes with compassion and empathy, and by concentrating on the characters of one Texas town reveals a small world well worth exploring. I didn’t find the stories as compelling as his novel Remember Me Like This, but nevertheless it’s a strong collection with some memorable moments.
Andrea MacPherson
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
These are luminous, tightly contained stories, exploring a castbof characters who live in Corpus Christi.

There is a particularly moving sequence of linked stories about a man returning home to care for his mother. There is violence, misunderstanding, reunions, and, ultimately, an examination of intimacy and the human condition.

Excellent short story collection
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
These stories are spare and solid, but I didn't connect emotionally. I didn't care about what happened to these people, or the cruel things they did to each other. I finished the read feeling untouched.
Gabe Gonzalez
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-novel
Growing up in Corpus Christi, this collection of short stories took me right back to my childhood. I found myself right in the the middle of each one of the stories. The emotional description was wonderful in every case. I would definetly recommend this collection to anyone!
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mourners
This is a short story collection written over time, and it shows. Each story stands on its own, and there isn't any filler. It's sad, really sad, so if you've just gone off the psych drugs maybe read something else.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was a little disappointed with this collection, if I'm honest. I came across a story of his in an anthology and fell in love with it and his writing. These stories just didn't grab me the way that one did.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like to cry
Rigorously precise, solemn contemplations on the ending of things. "Birds of Paradise," "Buy for Me the Rain," and "Waterwalkers" are mesmerizing, but every story here engages, and no particular low points come to mind. I would have appreciated any levity at all in the collection.
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Here's what I want to say: Truth is a coiling, slippery thing, and you can receive it any number of ways."
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Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize. The book has been translated around the world and is being made into a major motion picture. Bret is also the author of the awar ...more