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Music for Wartime: Stories

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  794 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
Named a must-read by the  Chicago Tribune , O Magazine,  BuzzFeed ,  The Huffington Post ,  Minneapolis Star-Tribune , and The L Magazine

Named one of the best short story collections of 2015 by Bookpage and Kansas City Star

Rebecca Makkai’s first two novels, The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, have established her as one of the freshest and most imaginative voices
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Viking
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Rating details
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Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I have already mentioned on GR probably a few too many times how I feel about short stories: I am reluctant to read them, am often happily surprised at how much I like some of them when I finally get round to reading them, kick myself for being reluctant to read them, and then want to read a novel by the author of the good short stories I have just read. Which pretty much sums up my reaction to the stories in Music for Wartime. Some of these stories are stunning and some are very good and some a ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
second story. The worst you ever feel. A young violinist watching a master play after years in a Romanian prison, is able to tell from the music what the man went through. Quite good.

Third story , November. A reality show where the contestants are all artists of some kind. All sent to an artist's colony to live together. Every week has a theme and every week someone is eliminated. A good look at the behind scene staging of these shows and how it can rub off into personal lives.

4th story, The Mir
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are only two types of stories in this splendid collection. Great ones. And outstanding ones. Truly, there is not a clunker in the batch.

Typically, in reviewing a short story collection, I start out with my favorites. But I’d be hard put to choose from among 17 stories (including some short-shorts inspired by Rebecca Makkai’s own colorful family history. Among the most memorable for me: “Couple of Lovers On A Red Background”, which starts, “I’ve been calling him Bach so far, at least in my
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

I read Rebecca Makkai's second novel, The Hundred Year House, last year and was really impressed. This collection of short stories has only confirmed my faith in her talent: although it's slightly patchy, some of them are spectacular.

I'll start with 'The November Story', because I thought it was absolutely perfect. It's about a woman who's working on the production team of a reality TV show, something a bit like Big Brother except all the contesta
Larry H
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
More than 4 stars, not quite about 4.25 stars?

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

A reality show producer. A cellist dealing with the presence of a growing shrine on her property. A minister in a town plagued by weather-related issues. A college professor for whom nothing seems to be going right. These are just a few of the characters in Rebecca Makkai's wonderful and intriguing new story collection, Music for Wart
Tammy Parks
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.75 stars. A beautiful collection of short stories, loosely tied together by themes of loss and sadness. I'll be thinking about some of these stories for a long time.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read one of Makkai's novels, The Borrower, previously, and I think I can say I enjoyed these short stories more. I liked the themes of music and war moving throughout them without the pressure to connect them otherwise. Some of the stories are very short, 2-3 pages, while others are longer.

Some favorites:
The Worst You Ever Feel - a little perspective, shall we say, from a nine-fingered violinist

Rachel León
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Makkai is a fabulous writer and though I loved both of her novels, this short story collection is my favorite book by her. Obviously with any collection there will be stories that resonate more than others, but a couple of the stories rate among my favorite short stories ever. There is so much skill and emotion in these stories that it's hard not to be both impressed and moved. If you're looking for a great short story collection, I highly recommend checking out Makkai's.
What an exceptional, stunning and creative short-story collection. Rebecca Makkai seamlessly changes voice and point-of-view for her stories: male [“Peter Torrelli, Falling Apart”], female [“Couple of Lovers on a Red Background”], varied ages [“The Worst You Ever Feel” is told from a young boy’s perspective.], races [there’s Celine, the Asian musician in “Cross”] and sexual orientation. She transports to varied times and places with ease.

“The November Story” details an imagined behind-the-scen
Kasa Cotugno
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best short story collections contain a paradox -- while short in print length, they can contain material of such complexity and meatiness, thus requiring more effort on the part of a reader than novels of same size. Such is the case here. Usually there is at least one story that makes the eyes roll, the impatience accelerate, but not here. Several of the stories do have music as an element, but they are handled in such a way as to demonstrate an insider's intense knowledge of the art form as ...more
Terri Jacobson
Rebecca Makkai has written an extraordinary collection of short stories. Entitled Music for Wartime, the stories take place on battlefields of different kinds, and they portray the hand-to-hand combat of human relationships. The writing is outstanding; the prose dips and soars and takes you on amazing rides. Makkai has included references to bits of her family history, and this just deepens the meaning of the collection. An absolutely amazing reading experience; I can't wait to check out the nov ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Even readers who typically do not enjoy short stories, I highly recommend adding Music For Wartime by Rebecca Makkai to all reading lists. Makkai’s latest release is due out in June 2015 and she has crafted some intense, thought provoking, and unforgettable stories. Typically when I read a collection of short stories I except to dislike a few, however that was not the case with Music For Wartime. Makkai’s writing is deeply moving, passionate, intense, descriptive, and not one story contained flu ...more
Mi Na
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب مجموعه داستانهایی از این خانم نویسنده است که در طول سالهای مختلف نوشته شده وجز بهترین مجموعه داستانهای سال 2015 است.
سی دی همراه کتاب هست که اثار موسیقی که منبع الهام نویسنده برای نوشتن داستانهای مختلف بودند در ان وجود داره. همینطور در انتهای کتاب چند نقاشی معروف اورده شده که در داستانها به انها اشاره شده. سوای این اضافات هیجان انگیز، داستانهای کتاب حال و هوای خاصی دارند. اولا : مربوط به دوره های مختلف زمانی اند (بعد جنگ دوم جهانی /دوران معاصر و...) ثانیا به مفاهیمی مثل مرگ، درد و رنج های بش
Roger Brunyate
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Stunning Set of Stories

As a musician myself, I am generally leery of authors who use music in their fiction, as it is so often only half understood. But by the same token, writers who get it right are a sheer joy; I am thinking especially of Vikram Seth ( An Equal Music ), Richard Powers ( The Time of Our Singing and Orfeo ), and now Rebecca Makkai. There is not music in every one of these seventeen stories, but those that do use it are memorable. "The Worst You Ever Feel" has a twelve-year-
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have been learning to love short stories a lot more lately because of such writers. This collection is pretty fantastic and each story touched a nerve with me. Sad is such an empty word for what the characters go through, but it's strangely beautiful too. I can't help but share some of my favorite lines.

"You know our whole thing about leapfrogging into someone else's body? it was like that, but like I suddenly leapfrogged into myself."

..he thought of mankind as a line of miserable monkeys chai
Karen Fresh
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
A collection of short stories. Many tied in to a war, some were about music, some were about both. I really liked a few of these, but several were too arty or pretentious or trying to hard to be clever. A story would go on for a couple of pages and then end, and I was left to figure out what the heck it was about. Maybe that was the point.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-this-year
Wow! Best collection of short stories I've read this year. Brilliant and compassionate- a small novel in each story.
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Roughly one year ago I read and reviewed Rebecca Makkai’s second novel The Hundred-Year House. Looking back to those recorded thoughts compared to my memory I realize that a large part of my response to her novel stemmed from the power and promise of Makkai’s writing overcoming some flaws in the construction of a full novel. As impressive as the novel was, it really does resembles a collection of shorter stories interwoven around the history of a family and home. I wasn’t looking forward to anot ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
First heard "The November Story" on This American Life (I think) and LOVED it. So glad that I came across this book in the library stacks. Several of the stories play with the same kind of framework--other art forms are brought in, and artifice is addressed more directly. The characters are aware of the central metaphors, and we are aware of their the writing is just so good. Recommend it a million.
Francesca Marciano
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great collection of short stories! So unusual and surprising in tone. A whirlwind blend of different voices, Makkai goes effortlessly from straightforward realism to magical. Her touch one moment is light, filled with subtle humor, surreal (How about having Bach wiggle out of your piano and settle on your couch with a beer?) and the next is melancholic, heartbreaking and incredibly real.
Favourites:Couples of Lovers on a Red background, The Miracle years of Little Fork, Painted ocean Painted shi
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Engaging stories.

And don't you just love references to one of your favourite books?

"'Did you ever read that book when you were a kid?' Peter said as we walked through the emptying halls. 'The one where the kids run away and live in the Met?'

"'And they bathe in the fountain,' I said." (p. 79-80)
Len Joy
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this collection on a long flight. Sometimes I find it challenging to read a collection of stories in one sitting. With some collections there is a sameness that makes it sort of wearying to read one story after another; (after a reading a bunch of Raymond Carver stories I either wanted a drink or to check into AA;); and some short stories while skillfully written require so much work to understand (I have my limitations) that it is just not fun to read more than one at a time.

But Makkai’s
Graham Wilhauk
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a rather good collection, though there was a lot of filler in it. There is really only 220 pages in this collection and at least 60 to 70 pages of it were stories that felt unnecessary. I do really like Rebecca Makkai's writing style and about three or four of the stories in here are REALLY good. However, there is just too much mediocrity for me to say that this is a great collection. In short, this collection is a good one that handles a lot of complex topics, but it just isn't enough ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly excellent stories of survivors, musicians, and the perils and rewards of human relationships.
Gina Whitlock
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful collection of short stories dealing with loss, war, and sadness. Thought it was a great collection.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: requested
Shockingly good and devastating stories.
Karen Germain
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of short stories, both as a reader and as a writer. I love them for their ability to capture a whole story world in a economical amount of words. Mostly, I love that the entire story can usually be read in a single sitting, allowing me to fully embrace the entire experience without interruption. Thank You to Viking Penguin Group for an advanced copy of Rebecca Makkai's short story collection, Music for Wartime, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT - The stories in Rebecca Makkai's new
Corinna Fabre
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are some authors that you fall in love with fast and hard – it’s a whirlwind and by the time you’ve finished that first book you’re totally out of breath. For me, Rebecca Makkai was one of those authors. I vividly remember brining The Hundred Year House with me on a Labor Day camping adventure and accidentally leaving the book behind and waiting anxiously for 24-hours until my father in law could drop off the book.

When you find an author like that, a new book is almost terrifying. You want
Were I to choose one favorite story or a starting point for readers, it would be The Miracle Years of Little Fork. From its excellent first sentence ("In the fourth week of drought, at the third and final performance of the Roundabout Traveling Circus, the elephant keeled over dead.") to its colorful cast of characters and surprisingly thought-provoking subject, this one was hands-down my top pick of the book. The Worst You Ever Feel, about a young boy's revelation when a renowned violinist visi ...more
Rachel Lewis
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Makkai's collection of short stories is enthralling. There are some absolutely stunning stories, some good stories, and some that fell a little flat for me. Makkai's writing is beautiful, quirky, and poignant. I absolutely loved several of the stories including "The November Story" which tells the tale of a woman working for a reality television show who is hooking up two contestants as her relationship with her girlfriend falls apart. This is a collection that is well worth picking up and divin ...more
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"Rebecca Makkai is the author of the short story collection MUSIC FOR WARITIME (Viking, 2015) and the novels THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE and THE BORROWER. Her short stories have appeared in four consecutive issues of THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES (2008-2011). She lives in Chicago and Vermont."
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“The loneliest thing in the world is lying awake beside someone asleep. ~ "The November Story” 9 likes
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