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In The Gloaming

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  255 ratings  ·  45 reviews
When the austere and moving title story of this collection appeared in The New Yorker in 1993, it inspired two memorable film adaptations, and John Updike selected it for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In these ten stories, Alice Elliott Dark visits the fictional town of Wynnemoor and its residents, present and past, with skill, compassion, an ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 16th 2001 by Simon Schuster (first published 2000)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  255 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I know the author of this book personally, and I adore her. She was my creative writing teacher in graduate school, so even though I feel like I am going to provide a review based on the book, my feelings can't help but seep in.

The book cover sets a high bar since it touts the fact that the title story, "In the Gloaming," was chosen as one of the best American short stories of century, and the title story is amazing. It is a quiet, gentle story. There is nothing overwrought about it,
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Dark captures the characters of Wynnemoor so that the place seems real and familiar. "In the Gloaming" is my favorite story, as it best represents the collection (hence its the title book). The story as well as the collection examines the silences that stitch lives and relationships together, revealing that in those twilight moments between what's said and unsaid we just may find ourselves.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is named after the first short story in the book, In The Gloaming. Alice Elliott Dark, has a keen eye and a deep understanding of the inner world of her characters. This first story is about a young man who has come home to die, he is too young, the word AIDS is never mentioned, but there are enough subtle comments to know this story, first published in the New Yorker on May 3, 1993, is about AIDS. Mother and son have time 'in the gloaming,' a Scottish term for the time near the end of ...more
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I admit, I only read the title story. It was the one I was after, having discovered that John Updike chose it as one of the best American short stories of the (last) century. So my rating is just for "In the Gloaming." It's certainly worth getting your hands on. A woman's adult son returns home for his final days, and mother and son fall into an intimate evening routine of getting to know each other. The hunger this woman has for her child, whom she will lose shortly, is heartbreaking. But shari ...more
Tricia Sutton
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
It was good, for the most part, but I felt it could have used a good copy editor. Typos or small grammar mistakes became more noticeable after a while. It went from forgivable to wondering if it was self published without the benefit of even a beta reader. Even the layout was a mess. Some chapters had no indentations for new paragraphs or dialogue. Then the next chapter was structured normally. It was such that I became distracted and irritated. A corrected copy would add a star as I liked the a ...more
Janet Eshenroder
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alice Dark is a master of writing about ordinary people in not unusual circumstances, delving so deeply into the characters' lives that it takes your breath away. "In the Gloaming" is one of her best, but in all the stories we get inside the characters so that it is hard to emotionally let go when the story ends. Like a door being quietly shut in my face, hiding the life that is sure to follow, I found myself haunted at each ending.
Jaykumar B
I stumbled upon this gem of a short story that needs to read by one and all... so poignant, so swift and so profound and most importantly so tragic... and most difficult to accept such incidents is that they have happened and are happening even today, as I'm typing this insufficient review..
Ronald Wilcox
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable collection of short stories. My two favorites were the first and last ones in the collection - "In the Gloaming" about a man dying of AIDS who lives with his parents towards the end of his life; and "Watch the Animals" about a rich woman who loves animals more than people who is dying of cancer and looking for people to take care of her menagerie.
Violet Muhle Bruce
I found that each of these stories was a hit or miss for me. Some I found myself spacing out completely from boredom and some I am still going back to read. In that sense it was confusing, but when it was good it was really good and the character development was really important and honest.
Jun 21, 2010 rated it liked it
The author has a pleasing voice and tone, which makes me trust her, as I would trust Richard Yates after reading Revolutionary Road or Jane Smiley. There's something familiar and unapologetic about the characters. I did not fall as deeply in love with Dark's worlds, however, though, like many other reviewers here, the title story was incredible. The characters themselves were what made reading worth it; there are so many strange and believable desires frothing about in each story, so many diffic ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I bought this book after I had seen the movie "In the Gloaming" with Glenn Close. I found the movie so beautiful that I wanted to read the story, too. And yes, the story was so touching and beautiful! And in my opinion, it was easily the best story of the book. I don't know whether it was because the other stories were really a bit boring or because it was just because I read the book in English and English isn't my mother tongue, but I found them rather hard to read. This is why it took me almo ...more
Mar 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing for people looking for a good collection of short stories. Alice Elliot Dark is great with the gripping, visceral feelings, although I would say she is more of a writer for women than men. And she's better with older women than anything else. But she does show some range and the book was a really fast read.
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book sometime in 2000, because I liked the cover art. I was the only person I knew who hadn't seen the hbo movie version of the title story. I loved it at the time. Re-reading it, I love pieces of it -- there are beautiful moments within each story (e/g "the distraction of human love") and also painful cliches. If nothing else, read "In the Gloaming."
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark writes powerfully. Her construction of each story feels seamless with every sentence delivering on multiple levels. It is amazing how she delivers such a poignant depth of emotion with the most simple sentences. My favorite stories were "In the Gloaming", "Triage", "The Secret Spot", "Home", and "Watch the Animals".
The title story is quite the two-hankie affair, and really well done. Definitely worth a read. However, I couldn't get into the rest of the collection. A lot of telling, not showing. After the laughter of two women was described as "explosive brays" and "percussive bursts" on the same page, I just kind of cringed.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I read this as part of my ongoing quest to understand and conquer short stories. Some of the stories I truly loved (In the Gloaming, The Tower, The Secret Spot), some I thought were good, and a few I just didn't understand. So overall, a decent read. The author has a lovely writing style and a firm understanding of people, which was great to experience.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read three of the ten short stories in this collection so far and can't contain myself. Every single story is a gem. Why don't more people have this book?! It's amazing!

Update: I've now finished the book. It's still amazing, but the first - and title - story is without question the best of the collection.
This was a wonderful collection of short stories. There was only one that I did not care for, only because it was slow going. I enjoy short stories that are character studies, and that's what this book felt like. The stories seem to have an underlying theme of loss, which makes for an interesting read. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010-2011
The title story may have been one of the best stories of the (last) century, but I wouldn’t say the same about the rest of the collection. “In the Gloaming” was nice and sad, but the rest were too dull, too uneven or unpolished, too full of uninteresting society ladies and queens of suburbia. Like Cheever, in a way, only more bland.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
The characterization was excellent and I liked how the stories didn't resolve things or come to a comfortable end...just presented a part of someone's life and their thoughts and actions during this time.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it
To be honest, depressing short stories just make me depressed. An obvious cause and effect situation. I did get the vague idea that I should do more with my life and not settle, but at the same time I seemed to understand that everyone settles and doesn't do enough with their lives.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people overcome with first world problems
If I wanted to know more about boring rich people I could have just taken Metro North back to Ardsley. The stories in this book go from totally awesome (In The Gloaming) to less awesome to less awesome to less awesome until the last story is like "Oh god, might as well."
It was all right. I don't really remember much about the stories beyond the one the title comes from. However, I do remember that the stories were pleasant, if not particularly insightful. I did learn what gloaming means, which was nice.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2005
I commented to a friend that I liked short stories, but thought that format did not allow the characters to become fully realized. David Shuman at B&N loaned me this book to prove me wrong. And he did prove me wrong!
May 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Too much melodrama. Too many Shyamalan-esque "plot twists." Too much "she chided," "he inquired," "she hissed." Updike selected the title story for inclusion in Best American Short Stories of the Century, so I was disappointed to find this collection so uneven.
Matt Jaeger
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
"I remember being very moved by the bagpipes at your father's funeral." A powerful piece of dialogue from the masterful title story. The rest of the collection is worthy, though paler than the first story.
Joe Starnes
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The title story was selected one of the best short stories of the century by John Updike, but I think it is maybe the very best story ever. The other stories here hold up to the title story too -- a great, great collection.
Amy Armstrong
Beautiful, beautiful short stories!
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
I read a really good review of this book and then went to the bookstore and saw it in the bargain section. Obviously a sign that I have to read it.
I enjoyed this.
May 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories were so-so, but the title story is so wonderful that the entire collection earns 4 stars from me.
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“They hugged, pressing each other's arms, and their brief embraces buoyed them up - forbearance and grace passing back and forth between them like a piece of shared clothing, designated for use by whoever needed it most.” 5 likes
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