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Crow Fair: Stories

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  603 ratings  ·  114 reviews
From one of our most deeply admired storytellers, author of the richly acclaimed Gallatin Canyon, his first collection in nine years.

Set in McGuane's accustomed Big Sky country, with its mesmeric powers, these stories attest to the generous compass of his fellow feeling, as well as to his unique way with words and the comic genius that has inspired comparison with Mark Twa
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Knopf
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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James Thane
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is an excellent collection of short stories set in the rural areas of modern-day Montana. Most of the characters are living on the edge socially and economically, struggling to hang on and make sense of lives that often simply don't make sense. The characters, both men and women, are beautifully rendered and each of the stories is a tiny gem. ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of the 17 stories in the collection, I count 7 total knockouts. They are:

-"Weight Watchers": A man takes in his father, who's been kicked out by his wife for being too fat
-"The House on Sand Creek": two bad parents are better at arguing than parenting
-"Grandma and Me": a man forgets his blind grandmother at the creek when a dead body floats by
-"On a Dirt Road": a former senator is dealing with how bad everything's become in his life
-"The Good Samaritan": a man whose son is in prison hires a
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stories Oughta Set You to Grinnin' Like a Mule Eatin' Cactus


If you haven't read anything by the silver-penned slang-whanger Thomas McGuane, you should consider punching yourself up a ticket to the CROW FAIR. McGuane strings the whizzers in this 2015 collection of twistical tales set on a Montana line between his patented dry sense of humor and his keen perception of the common natures of humans.

As in McGuane's prior florilegia, these stories center almost solely 'round folks in a box facing some
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGuane's Montana short stories are highly readable and full of lines wry and funny lines, my favorite being: "The feeling came back to me, from the days of our marriage, that I was doomed in life to take a lot of shit and make weak jokes in response." In fact, many of McGuane's characters in this collection are such sad sack characters, lamely playing the hand that has been dealt to them, or, should they bluff, getting their comeuppance and then some. In that sense, they start to blend, and by ...more
Jim Steele
I have enjoyed one or two of his novels and stories in the past. I remember a sense of place almost like Cormack McCarthy and sparse but interesting characters like Hemmingway. Some of these stories are very good. Some aren't. The general feeling here is a group of stories that are excellent novel ideas, but I left wanting the complete fleshed out thing rather than these cut down stories. ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written collection of short stories but the abrupt endings disappointed me.
Emily Crow
I think this is one of the best short story collections I have read in a very long time. McGuane's underlying themes, such as how oblivious people can be to the realities of their own lives, are rather serious, but the stories themselves are witty, entertaining and a lot of fun to read. In this respect, he reminds me a bit of Flannery O'Connor. I love his eye for detail and the way he has of getting to the "core" of a character with just a few sly sentences. There really isn't a bad story in the ...more
Gabriel Congdon
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm getting the timing off. I'm falling a book behind on reviews, in fact, I'm going to knock out a quick Auster re-view, to end this crap.

McGuane though, just incredible. If good writing is a series of spinning plates on your chin while riding a unicycle, his plates revolve serenely like space-age ufos, he glides one-wheeled around the stage.

What I like about McGuane that his characters have jobs, they have to, it's not like lit where characters glide around on a plot and have time away from t
Zoe's Human
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm DNFing this at page 39. Apparently this guy is talented and has been compared to Mark Twain. I am not, however, his target market.

You know those people who live their life from one bad decision to the next, never really complaining, never really taking responsibility for why their life is all screwed up, just resigned to a life of repetitive misery? This book, or at least the first three stories in it, is about those people.

I see enough of that in real life, thanks.

I received a complimentar
Mark Stevens
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Montana Noir" (Akashic Books) turned me on to Thomas McGuane’s compelling “Motherlode” and that sent me to his latest short-story collection, "Crow Fair," which also includes that short story. Yes, I read it again. Four times? Five? It keeps on giving.

I found one other story in "Crow Fair" on par with “Motherlode,” a taut battle of survival and justice-by-nature in the great outdoors with the understated title “River Camp,” but the entire collection is worth reading.

Montana is the general back
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mcguane
finished this collection yesterday the 28th of january 2020 good read four stars really liked it kindle library loaner have read several from mcguane...and i go to put this on the "mcguane" shelf, assuming it exists having read mcguane but no shelf with that name. go figure. these short stories are worth a read even if like me you're hesitant to read shorts be like traveling somewhere and you don't want to stop midway now it's off to investigate how i shelved other mcguane stories. ...more
Stacy Bearse
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Here are 17 compact works of prose that deliver an emotional knockout. McGuane's stories describe the strains of family life and friendships in the rugged Montana prairies and mountains. His economic – and witty - narratives drill deeply into the bonds of love and loyalty that comprise our relationships. Fathers and sons. Husbands and wives. Mothers and children. McGuane is a modern-day Mark Twain who understands the human condition like no other author. ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent collection. McGuane's variety of scope is fantastic. He has the rare ability of compressing the vastness of the modern day Western American landscape into nuggets of restless discomfort. The characters in these stories fitfully attempt to reconcile the rehashed, questionable glory of their ancestors with a disappointing world of missed chances and wasted time. ...more
Jerry Peace
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection is what short stories are all about. Although primarily set in Montana, I like that location is not a character, is far less significant than persons. No zombies, no extraterrestrials, not one spy; just people in their myriad tornadoes of foolishness that scatter wreckage of marriages and childhoods of pain, of jobs that don't come close to filling the vast inside hole, of misshapen lives that play out with small grimaces and little palls one step below regrets, yet tinted and ed ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories in Thomas McGuane's collection really evoke a certain mood and this mood encompasses all the stories in this book. Think diet Flannery O'Connor, set in Montana. A lot of the stories have this feeling of menace, or of characters with malicious intent, than only the reader is privy to. Like in the second story, "Grandma and Me." The narrator enjoys taking his grandmother out every once in awhile, but abandons her to chase something down the river. It doesn't seem so bad, but then we fi ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa
3.5 stars.
There is some really great writing in this collection. I just didn't feel moved at all by it, as I had hoped.
Gaylord Dold
McGuane, Thomas. Crow Fair: Stories, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2015 (267pp. $25.95)

Tom McGuane lives on a ranch outside McLeod, Montana where he raises horses and is an accomplished trainer and rider. He’s lived there for many years, having purchased the property after a stint writing movie scripts. His early novels “The Sporting Club”, “The Bushwacked Piano” and especially “Ninety-two in the Shade”, were famous moments in the revival of American fiction in its wilder, sometimes surreal aspects
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As of this minute, CROW FAIR is the most recent Thomas McGuane. As of this minute, Thomas McGuane is seventy-seven years old. He is an old-timer, and in many ways it is unlikely that you could find a better representative of the subtle modulations of growth over time. McGuane has been one of my very favourite writers since I first discovered him. His second novel, THE BUSHWHACKED PIANO, remains one of my very favourite novels of all time. It is, of course, a product of the era of insanely robust ...more
I am going to give it 3 stars even though I had a 1 star experience.
Short stories are not something that I experience often. It requires a different focus and for listening to it on audio I had a difficult time discerning the ending and the beginning of the next.
The only story that I had a sense of completeness was "Crow Fair", the last presented.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love McGuane's style. I kept putting this down after each story so I wouldn't "use it up" too quickly. He has a lot of Montana culture nailed in these stories. Easily one of my favorite living Montana authors. ...more
Matthew Eisenberg
I'm a book snob. There are a few select people in my life from whom I will blindly accept book recommendations---meaning that I'll begin reading a book based on their recommendation alone---but I generally read several professional reviews before deciding which new book to begin. This method of selection has resulted in my enjoying the majority of books that I read, as evidenced by the fact that the average score of the books I've rated on goodreads is 3.75. Alas, sometimes the critical acclaim ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the finest collections of short stories I have read in a very long time. This is also my first encounter with Thomas McGuane, and I am delighted to make his acquaintance. Even though all of the stories are set in Montana, there is a universality about their presentation of what one reviewer calls "...awful, awfully human moments". Therein lies the beauty of the collection. (If you read this book for no other reason, read it for the last three pages of the story "A Long View To The ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you know this author's works? He flies under the radar for many people - but he's worth looking into. "Crow Fair" is not his best work .. but yet, these short stories certainly represent his style, humor, and guile as well as anything he's written. Living in Montana does that. After reading these stories, I suddenly have a craving to re-watch movies made from his books and stories - "Rancho Deluxe" and "The Missouri Breaks" come to mind .. ...more
This was very boring. The stories don't really end, they just stop. I listened to the audiobook and this quirk made it really hard to tell when one story ends and another begins. All the stories blend together. There is no entertainment to be had or anything to be learned from this book. I can't believe I finished it. ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book and get sucked into it, but that just didn’t happen. I think I was expecting a novel, or at least connected stories, but it is instead a collection of interesting but not super engrossing slices of life in somewhat odd circumstances. I’ll probably give it another shot after finishing a few more of the books on my list.
Chris DiCroce
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of beautifully flawed characters. Set in 'modern-day' Montana, the setting is unto itself a quiet, mysterious character lurking in the background. I love the way McGuane tells a story. ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always beautiful language, and intriguing interior examinations of the characters. Some stories conclude with plot twists hinted at in the story, others end and fall flat when you think they'll continue on to a more satisfying ending. It felt uneven. ...more
Marc Cullison
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of unusual short stories, each with a unique take on life. I could predict the endings of some of them, but others presented a surprising finish. Thoroughly enjoyable reading. The author’s style is a pleasant mix of humor and delightful metaphors. A great read.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGuane is a master of the short story. Good collection here.
Sunshine Ybarra
Mar 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to give a 5* review, but sadly I never received my copy after winning the Goodreads First Reads ARC giveaway!
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