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You Should Pity Us Instead

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A debut collection of short stories which sympathetically explores some of the toughest dilemmas we face in our struggle though life.

You Should Pity Us Instead explores some of our toughest dilemmas: the cost of Middle East strife at its most intimate level, the likelihood of God considered in day-to-day terms, the moral stakes of family obligations, and the inescapable fa
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Sarabande Books
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Diane S ☔
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Life is messy, we know that and sometimes just so called normal life can be difficult. Add an extraordinary event and all bets are off, what do we do, how do, we cope? The people in these stories are just regular people, confronted with a situation that causes a strong emotion, upsets the apple cart. Yet, life goes on and how they handle things and move forward is a common theme in these stories.

The title story, usually the strongest in a collection, proved to be a favorite, giving me much to t
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
What a stunning debut! The writing is fantastic, the stories layered, unique, riveting. These subtle character studies marry fragility with strength and the result is truly something special.
In the past I have struggled to enjoy short stories as each often seems like just the beginning of story to me...not so here! These thought-provoking stories were meaty and emotionally complex, so they held my interest and made me feel invested. Each story "ends" with a wisp of hope or despair. As a reader
Larry H
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

The characters in You Should Pity Us Instead , Amy Gustine's powerfully moving story collection find themselves in the midst of all kinds of challenges or emotional crises. But while reading 11 stories about people at emotional crossroads may sound harrowing, many of these stories also have a little bit of suspense, some have traces of sly humor, and all are tremendously compelling.

I had never heard of Amy Gustine before finding a mention of this collection in one of B
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2016
This is an exceptional collection of short stories, all the more remarkable for being Gustine's debut. All of the stories are very different from each other, with memorable storylines and characters. I have read some wonderful short story collections this year, and this ranks right up with the best of them.

I have not seen many people reading this - if you enjoy short stories, I highly recommend this to you.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I almost cannot believe this is a debut novel because it was so well written. I am usually not one for short stories because I always get very invested in the characters and want to know more. I found with all of these stories Gustine maintains a strong balance in character where you like them, but not enough to fall in love and get invested. There were a few standouts that I really loved and others I found dragged on for entirely too long.

I am a sucker for titles and this one really jumped out
Saleh MoonWalker
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Onvan : You Should Pity Us Instead - Nevisande : Amy Gustine - ISBN : 1941411193 - ISBN13 : 9781941411193 - Dar 256 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2016
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
4.5 Stars

That this was written by a debut author is astonishing to me with such an accomplished collection. In some lovely prose, Gustine has taken subjects and themes that are disparate, up to the minute, universal, and political and created a little microcosm of our lives behind closed doors.

Primarily these stories are about being a parent, particularly a mother. At least three of the stories raise the question of how important, or not, biology is in that relationship. The first story, ‘All th
Book Riot Community
Add this to the list of stellar story collections released in 2016! Gustine's stories are dazzling, a wide array of ideas, beautifully executed. There's a mother searching for her kidnapped son in Gaza, an Ellis Island conductor mourning for his old love, a father grieving the death of his daughter. The thread of this collection is the delicate nature of relationships, and Gustine's compassion and love for each of her characters shines off every page.

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to al
Wendy Cosin
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Amy Gustine's well-written short stories mine complicated situations and conflicting emotions An old Jewish woman seeking her son in Gaza; a mother on the edge dealing with a crying child and her own mother's abuse; a black boy's relationships with his adopted white family, a disabled sibling, and his birth mother; a father grieving his daughter's suicide. The author takes us firmly into these worlds in each 15-20 page story. The emotional responses feel real and deep. We are observers, but we c ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a doozy....such wonderful, uncomfortable, raw stories. I flew through it and felt simultaneously terrible and relieved with my inadequacies. Get ready for some seriously unlikeable people.
Shay Caroline
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
The writing itself is top flight, and every story pulled me in immediately. Three of the stories will stay with me. The first is "Goldene Medene" which takes place at Ellis island. A doctor who is supposed to be inspecting strictly for eye disease and insanity has "vision" and emotional issues of his own, his mind being on a love interest who snubbed him. His mood carries over with perhaps disastrous results for three people trying to get through to a new life in America. The second is "An Uncon ...more
Frances Dowell
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I happened to find this on my library's New Books shelf and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did--this is a masterful, wide-ranging collection of stories, one that looks life head-on, without sentimentality, yet manages to avoid cynicism. Families are dysfunctional, but not without affection. Lives are complicated, and sometimes dark, but not without hope. Okay, there's at least one story I'd call grim, but its O.Henry ending is exactly right. Perhaps most importantly, every story is inte ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been lucky with my short story collection choices of late. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, The Unfinished World, Dog Run Moon were all excellent. This is another addition to that list. As a cat lover, An Uncontaminated Soul resonated with me a lot. But, my favorite was Half Life, about a nanny who cares for a couple's children, and who has her own troubled past. It sounds so ordinary, and it is, but has a depth that is characteristic of all the stories in this book. The characters are not a ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought I needed a short story break after reading (and adoring) A Manual for Cleaning Women. Then this comes along. Are you kidding me? These stories KILL! Such a diverse and captivating collection with all the trademarks of greatness: no blending of stories once you've finished, each story is as good as the next, strong variation in voice/tone/setting/dialogue in each story. There is no link between the stories or overiding theme (though parenthood is featured in most of the stories). I am a ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I am not generally a fan of short stories, but the theme of this book appealed to me. The language was simple, but very drab, like one of those dollar mysteries. You can't talk about the darkest side of humanity without getting more attached to the characters. A few of the stories will make great reads as full length novels.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Mostly interesting if not quite exciting group of stories. There were a few gems, and a few that I really thought could have benefited from a longer length. All of the stories have the common thread of featuring lonely outsiders, which I definitely appreciated.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though the stories are varied the common thread is solitude and ramifications of loneliness and loss--how death leaves us alone, how we are alone in our own families, how being alone brings people together.
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brooke Turner
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have lots of complex feelings about this collection. It is an unsettling read, more so than other stories I have read. Gustine’s story, “You Should Pity Us Instead,” which is also the title of the collection, was especially difficult to read. At times, I wanted to throw the book across the room out of frustration. At first, I felt a bit patronized. Most of the time, I don’t trust academics who write about religion because as someone who is a person of faith, I always end up feeling degraded by ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Dark and dreary. These read more like outlines of larger works than the neat little packages I have found in other short stories. I was going to give this 2 stars, because the writing isn't terrible, but I can't think of a single story in this collection that I actually enjoyed reading, so 1 star it is...
Terry Cyr
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
A casual conversation that highlights the human experience from multiple points of view. Beautifully written and thought provoking, this is a non-threatening place to challenge one's own views of various people and world events.
Kyla Daniels
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved every story in this book. Great glimpses of the lives women live everyday.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
an amazingly crafted selection of spellbinding stories; little gems.
Jo Ann
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Collection of short stories that were very readable. The endings were all open ended which I found odd.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a sad set of beautifully written stories.
Joan Merrill
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories.
David Massey
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book, almost every story a masterpiece. The one weak story to me is "Prisoners Do," where the effect is vitiated by too much pointless head-hopping. The overpowering impression of Gustine's storytelling is one of maturity and compassion, the maturity of a Somerset Maugham and the compassion of a Willa Cather. Her empathy is amazing and reminds me of Eudora Welty, and her imagination ranges the world over, neither geography nor time being stumbling stones. Perhaps she is a wor ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read All the Sons of Cain and laid the book aside until I had a chunk of time to finish it. I read the rest just as slowly, savoring each delicious story. I'm not a short story devotee but the collection kept me totally engaged from beginning to end.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gustine’s eleven stories are universally good and many have considerable merit. They are well constructed, focusing on mundane situations using well-drawn characters, who experience various forms of realization—often in the last sentences. To her credit, she refrains from offering pat solutions for her characters’ situations. Instead her writing is subtle and nuanced, asking her readers simply to bear witness to things that superficially would appear to be quite ordinary but are often fraught wi ...more
Kyle B
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Amy Gustine puts forward an impressive and - at times - risky collection of stories. Whether it's an Israeli mother navigating a labyrinth of underground tunnels to bring her imprisoned son home from Palestine, or the bizarre, even perverse, bond between an airline pilot accused of rape and an unrelated father collecting his dead daughter's belongings in her Phoenix apartment.

Gustine shows some great flashes of brilliance in this collection, masterfully capturing the internal monologues in her c
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Amy Gustine’s debut short story collection, You Should Pity Us Instead, will be published by Sarabande Books in February 2016. Her fiction has appeared most recently in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Laurel Review and The Wisconsin Review. Her work received Special Mention in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. She lives in Ohio.

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