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The World to Come

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  240 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
"Without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America," according to The Daily Beast, Jim Shepard now delivers a new collection that spans borders and centuries with unrivaled mastery.
These ten stories ring with voices belonging to--among others--English Arctic explorers in one of history's most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This short story collection gets 4 stars from me, while I recognize that this is not the book for me. I am not a fan of the short story format (Helen Ellis being the exception). I feel over the past several years, I have given a number of collections a try, but the form annoys me. That said, these are interesting, amazing sad stories. I did a lot of web searching about the situations and now I want to read more about the Arctic, Queensland etc. Beautifully written, this collection will no doubt ...more
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
These ten stories remind us what it means to be human, even as we are pushed to the most extreme of circumstances, whether it's stranded in the Atlantic Ocean or back at home, stuck in the Arctic, or dealing with own demons. As many of the stories are grounded in real events, I found myself taking the time to research what "really" happened. Humorous when they need to be, each story finds its own unique voice, which is sometimes a rarity in short story collections.
Joaquin Garza
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Supongo que habrán visto o leído alguna novela histórica (de perdida algo facilito tipo Ken Follett)... pero... ¿Alguna vez habían oído hablar de relatos históricos? No es un género muy practicada, a menos que hablemos de ucronías. Entonces al tomar esta colección de diez cuentos uno parece hallarse con algo totalmente nuevo.

Llegué a este libro por recomendación de la revista Outside (y por el hecho no menor de que había sido publicada por Knopf, que -Eragon aparte- siempre es garantía de calida
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booktopia-2017
Short stories are not my favorite genre, but these 10 stories were captivating. I look forward to meeting this author in Manchester VT in May.
Vincent Scarpa
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Edit: here's my chat with Jim at Kirkus:

I have an interview with Jim forthcoming in Kirkus Review, but I'll say here that this is yet another stellar book from a writer incapable of producing anything else. Shepard is a master of the form, and it's never been more apparent than in the stories that comprise this collection; stories in which Shepard's radical empathy, intellectual acuity, unremitting imagination, and sorcery over language are on full displa
Zack Quaintance
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
What's most impressive about the stories in The World to Come, as in all of Jim Shephard's work, is how detailed and layered the writing can be, without sacrificing a modicum of the deep heart that makes it all so memorable.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short story collection. This is the kind of writer that makes you feel lazy. Not only is the writing stunningly good, but almost all (maybe all?) the stories were historical fiction that involved a lot of research, in a wide array of historical periods and locations. The style, voice, and range of characters makes it almost hard to believe this is all the same author.

There's a 19th-century farm woman whose secret lesbian lover is killed by domestic violence (and her husband gets away with it),
For some reason I have trouble with short stories. I guess they usually leave me wanting more. This was a Booktopia book, so I thought I would give it a try.
Not bad. Ten stories, each involves a disaster. Maybe I just needed something a little more positive right now. Been a tough couple of months.
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Dipping in and out....have probably read half the stories.
May 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Although I found most of the stories interesting, they were very dark.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, ibooks
A set of short stories where people are in the most extreme situations: stranded in the Arctic ice, piloting the first balloon, in a WWII English submarine, etc. Each story is written in the vernacular of the time. And each story has a protagonist who is a loner, a loser, not well loved by his or her parents. Really strange. Some stories are hopeful, others not so much.
Carl Nelson
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars. I was intrigued by Outside Magazine's glowing review of Jim Shepard's new short story collection, The World to Come The expectation of greatness was amplified by the book jacket description:
"These ten stories burst with his wicked sense of humor and incomparable understanding of what it means, and has always meant, to be human. The World to Come is the work of a true virtuoso."

I'd say that sets the bar pretty high...

The author indeed has a gift for giving his characters distinctive voic
Joe M
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's rare to read a book of short stories where EVERY one knocks your socks off, but this was the case with Jim Shepard's latest collection "The Word to Come." Despite hearing rave reviews for Shepard's short stories for years, I only recently discovered the author when I finally picked up his excellent novel "The Book of Aron" last year, and since then I've been curious to read more from him.

Keeping in line with his flair for engaging historical fiction, Shepard's stories feature captivating s
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
come of the short stories are interesting chronicles of extreme survival crisis
Donovan Richards
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who Needs Pay?

A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. A colloquialism held classically for managers, the United States economy holds this operating assumption. If the average person works hard, just compensation becomes the result. When the company prospers, the employees prosper at an equal rate of advancement. Classic motivational carrots and sticks implies that managers and employees alike hold shared interest in the flourishing of the company; everyone benefits. Even more, managers have
Peter A
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, literature
Normally, I do not read short stories. However, when I saw a review of the book (likely from Kirkus) and with the words of Colum McCann (in his weekly blogs from 2016) in mind, something like “read as much as you can, and as varied as you can”, I decided to try the book.

In any set of stories, it is likely you can find one you enjoy. But with this author, there were several that stayed with me well beyond the reading, even from the short number of pages. In one case “Wall-to-Wall Counseling” I be
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
These stories serve to demonstrate two of Jim Shepard’s great passions: chronicling historical disasters and conducting research. Eight of the ten stories fictionalize real disasters narrated by characters who could have confronted them. These stories also contain so much historical detail that they resemble investigative journalism. It is obvious that Shepard enjoys his time with original records (e.g., personal diaries, journals, naval histories, minutes of hearings, and even safety handbooks ...more
Richard Leis
Every single story in this collection of historical fiction and contemporary fiction pieces is breathtaking, full of incredible and often all-too-real details, and features characters (whether based on real people or not) that leap off the page. I particularly appreciate how writer Jim Shepard finds the humanity and depth in characters that are otherwise difficult to like.

The title story is a gorgeous examination of a forbidden love that simply cannot survive in its era. It's a great story, but
Patrick McCoy
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jim Shepard is one of my favorite contemporary writers so I was really looking forward to reading The World To Come (2017) and it did not disappoint. I think Shepard is especially good at writing historically based short stories in which he does extensive research to give correct period details and there are a number of those types of stories in this collection. The first story, "Safety Tips for Living Alone" is a fictional account of the Texas Tower 4 disaster where all 28 civilians contractors ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shepard's smirking, ominous message--delivered mostly through expertly researched historical fiction--is that we're doomed. I've read/own all his short story collections and love them. Not a sentimental bullshit moment in any of them. He seamlessly weaves in spot-on, telling historical detail without it ever seeming as if he's showing off. And to write the kind of stuff he writes--you have to get the details correct. He's obsessed with, among other subjects: Australia, early sea travel, war, the ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Jim Shepard's short story "Love & Hydrogen" is one of those that blew my mind and broke my heart as an undergraduate English major, such that every year I have to be talked out of tattooing a sentence from it to my body somewhere (said sentence being, "This complicates just about everything.").

That said, I had never read a full collection by him, and with this one specifically, I felt I could really see the strings being pulled. I mean, about half of these have the same ending as each other,
Owen Townend
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories
This was such an unusual short story collection--many of the stories were set in the past, and the level of specific historical detail was amazing (and must have been due to the HUGE list of books that the author listed at the end). The style and syntax also matched each historical period--no small feat. Subjects included military wives, an 1845 Arctic expedition, pioneer women in love, life on a submarine in 1942, and a living through a cyclone in Australia. The few contemporary stories were eq ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is difficult for me to review. Shepard writes beautifully and I loved the language and dialogue and sense of place. *SPOILER* However, every story is filled with anxiety and dread and ends in disaster. He is a master at building that dread. I just couldn't see the point of having every story in the collection hinge on that. A few stories in, I was having to force myself to continue. That is not a good reading experience. In addition, the characters have active inner lives while often b ...more
James Winter
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My second read was even more enjoyable than the first, and the stories that were once slippery, like "Ocean of Air" or "Wall-to-Wall Counseling," opened for me in ways that revealed both craft and intention. All of the stories are like this: they take two readings--like "Telemachus" or "Intimacy"-- to grasp the full achievement of Jim's writing. It's one of the reasons I assigned the collection to my upcoming Fiction I students. I'll reread it again as we go through it in class. It's that damn g ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
People who write sad stories tend to write sad stories. But these stories are too uniformly sad. The writing is good and each seems to capture a different voice. Too many of the particulars are the same in each, despite the historical settings. The tale of farm wives broke from that mold, and it was also my favorite of the collection. Not a coincidence.

Read this because I really loved the interview Roger Bennett (of Men in Blazers) did with Shepard.
Scooping it Up
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first story in this collection was so intense for me I stopped reading it five times because I didn't want to know how it ended, and ended up spacing out a 30 page story for three days. And it still worked and was still beautiful and horrible as I was worried it would be.

The writing is haunting and poignant. This author performs the ultimate magic of short stories, knows just how much to say and not too much. These stories are like little pieces of art. I highly recommend.
Jason Forbus
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Too few interesting stories in this collection to keep my attention. I wanted stop reading several times but wallowed through in the hopes that the next story would be the one to make the book worth my time but, alas,that did not happen.

In these, the cold months of the year, I recommend using this book as kindling.
Patrick Barry
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booktopia
An excellent group of short stories centering around disasters of all sizes. Well written and at least some of the stories are based on actual events. If you like excellent short stories, this is the book for you. Another booktopian author that I enjoyed very much.
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Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels, including most recently The Book of Aron, which won the Sophie Brody Medal for Achievement in Jewish Literature from the American Library Association and the PEN/New England Award for fiction, and five story collections, including his new collection, The World To Come. Five of his short stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, two for ...more
More about Jim Shepard

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