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A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: Stories

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  69 reviews
From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner, a collection of interlaced tales of men and women as they face the mysteries and magic of the world

On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizur
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company
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Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is almost unheard of me to award 5 stars to a short story collection, but Daniel Mason's marvellous 9 stories deserve every star, each a gem in my view, and so beautifully written. If, in these anxious times, you have been finding it hard to concentrate, then I would suggest that these stories are the perfect solution. Mason provides a breathtakingly disparate set of locations and immersive subject matter, managing to capture my attention, bewitch, surprise and satisfy. Without giving too muc ...more

Daniel Mason’s collection of nine short stories that cover a range of eras and places, topics, and themes, begins with Death of a Pugilist, or The Famous Battle of Jacob Burke & Blindman McGraw which captured my attention from the first words.

Born a winter child in the Bristol slums, in the quayside heap known only as “The Rat,” Jacob Burke, who would come to battle the great McGraw on that fateful day in 1824, was a son of the stevedore Isaac Burke and the seamstress Anne Murphy.

Seventeen round
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“...he found himself marveling at this realization that he could live in the thoughts of another person, a realization that seemed no less a miracle than if somehow he’d been twinned.”

“Tomorrow, will he capsize us upon a deserted isle? Or return us to the softness of our earthly beds? Or will he have us float forever through his inkwell, until the final page is written and the book is closed?”

I’ve read two other books by this author. I loved “The Piano Tuner” but didn’t much care for “The Winter
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What to say about these stories! First of all, this collection is perhaps one of the most exciting that I’ve ever read. Each left me with a visceral reaction, not just an intellectual reaction of “well written” but a gut reaction of “wow”. While the collection is classified as fiction, the stories read as vignettes from real life, moving through history, capturing highlights of human moments on earth.

Mason moves from the life of a 19th century boxer to ancient Egypt, to the jungles of Brazil to
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories encompass moments in time for a variety of intriguing people within very different settings. Each one is of high quality and masterfully written, and should appeal to lovers of short stories and serve as a distraction from the troubled outside world.

These tales contain themes of obsession, compulsive behaviour, wonder, doubts and fears, epiphany, and the search for knowledge, truth and understanding.

The 9 short stories are about: a desperate mother whose son
Renee Godding
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-releases
I’m going to be honest: this was a fine collection of stories, but my overall feeling in the end is pretty “neutral”. Although I enjoyed most of the stories, none of them stuck out in particular to be elevated above the rest (including other short story collections I’ve read before).
I have to give credit to the author for the final (and my favourite story) which beautifully ties the rest of the collection together to a more cohesive whole. I know many people feel like every story in a collectio
Usually in a collection of short stories there are one or two that fall a little flat or which aren’t as engaging as the rest. Not so with this collection as each story offered something slightly different and had its own special appeal, whether that’s the immersive atmosphere of a period in time (such as in ‘Death of a Pugilist’) or a place (as in ‘The Ecstasy of Alfred Russell Wallace’), a quirky character (as in the Jekyll and Hyde-like ‘The Second Doctor Service’), unexpected touches of humo ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This is a collection of nine short stories. Each one takes us into an episode in the life of an individual. In the first story, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to meet a fearsome opponent. Then Alfred Russel Wallace (not a fictional character) comes up with a theory of evolution that he wants to share with Charles Darwin. There is the story of man who takes part in American civil war re-enactments, the story of Psammetichus I (another non-fictional character) and his search for knowledge. A woma ...more
Gianna Lorandi
I'm a lover of short stories, I enjoy to have just a glimpse of people lives. These lovely stories were really well written, immersive and captivating.
All the voices reflected well their times and the author provided us with great variety, some are heartbreaking and some are very funny, some characters are fictional and some are not.
Absolutely lovely read.

Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy.
Ari Levine
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nine exquisite short stories, all of them historical vignettes with a compassionately- and imaginatively-rendered protagonist (some real, some fictional) at the center of a thoroughly imagined and richly detailed landscape: ancient Egypt, 1970s San Francisco, Victorian London, the 19th-century Amazon. An immensely satisfying read, especially if I had properly paced myself to read only one story each evening.
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Each story in A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth is a masterpiece that vividly conveys a historical person's grappling with life's big questions. Each story transported me into a specific time and place. The characters are unforgettable.

Mason's background as a physician and psychiatry inform these stories, each character grappling with challenges biological or mental.

A reluctant pugilist, the product of the "cursed Gemini of Poverty and Fertility," dwells on the moral aspect of his trade. "
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lyrical exploration of life on earth

A series of marvellous character studies, some being entirely fictional, while others are peopled by fictionalised historical characters.

Up first is Bristolian stevedore and pugilist, whose story, 'Death of the Pugilist, or The Famous Battle of Jacob Burke and Blindman McGraw', is told in short ‘rounds’.

Then we have naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace, in 'The Ecstasy of Alfred Russel Wallace', whose correspondence with Charles Darwin comes to an
Keith Currie
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Miraculous Discoveries

This collection of short stories by the author of The Winter Soldier, Daniel Mason, is an absolute gem. There are nine stories, all in some way reflective of the effects of science and discovery on human life, all to some extent historical fiction based on real life events. The first in the collection, Death of the pugilist, is a no holds barred account of a famous bare knuckle boxing match in the early 1800s, full of brutality and violence, but pathos and sensitivity too.
Fran Blake
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This writer's intelligence and artistry is extraordinary. Not only is this book beautifully written, the stories are wonderfully unusual. I expect to read these stories many times as well as anything this person writes. Wow!
Mitch Loflin
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Short story collections are often a mixed bag, but never more so for me than with these. I almost quit after the first two, but the next six I thought were all really interesting, and then the last one I thought was so tedious. All the stories have this naturalistic, oldfangled, sort of Victorian sensibility that at best was really whimsical and compelling and at worst just made me bored. But I guess I liked more stories than I didn’t?
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I've never read anything exactly like A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth: Stories. Each and every story is imaginative and unique. The stories are unrelated except for underlying elements of nature and psychology. I'm still not sure quite what to make of them. To be honest, they are all a bit odd, but enjoyable.
Disclosure: This was a Goodreads win for me. Many thanks to Little, Brown, and Company.
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I believe I was out of my element with some of these stories. But I was totally mesmerized by the lyrical prose, so that even when I didn't always comprehend what Mason was trying to convey, there was a certain amount of enjoyment in the reading itself. Does that make sense?
Rob Twinem
A registry of my passage upon the earth, the clue to the unravelling of this collection of short stories is held within the title. I found it somewhat difficult to comprehend this weird grouping of unrelated events and happenings. What is the connection between a sailor, a boxer, a balloonist, a linesman on a busy lonely railroad in South America? The final story and in particular the final image go some way to helping a confused reader make sense and arrive at some logical conclusions on the au ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Daniel Mason is unfair. Having already established a successful medical practice as a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Stanford, he also is a talented writer. In this book of short stories, he writes in a throwback style reminiscent of O. Henry or Edgar Allen Poe. Some of the stories are really great, such as the Second Doctor Service, and others are merely good, but they are all unlike anything else you've read. Mason jars us with his anachronistic style but it is well-suited to these ta ...more
A triumph of homage…

A collection of short stories linked by subject matter and style rather than through the characters, this is a wonderful homage to the science fiction of the late 19th/early 20th century. There are nine stories in all, and I gave six of them five stars, two got four, and only the last story in the book, which I freely admit I didn’t understand, let it down a little for me at the end. But not enough to spoil my overall enjoyment – some of these stories are brilliant and the q
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved this collection—it had a very cabinet-of-curiosities feel, and the author's curiosity was palpable. The stories were mostly set in the 19th century, with a couple before and after, and one contemporary piece that had enough echoes of the past not to feel out of place—all of them about some aspect of science, medicine, psychology. I'm sad to see it didn't get more attention, though maybe the subject matter is especially offbeat these days, when close first-person contemporary short s ...more
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is so much beautiful writing here. I'm impressed with the way he can create such fully formed characters and intricate scenes with so few words/pages.

The stories end very abruptly; he leaves a lot open to the reader's interpretation. And the last story, also the name of the collection, I found unreadable.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
There was something about the writing style of these stories that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then, I learned that Daniel Mason is a doctor and it clicked.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
"Years later, I would often find that my memory of him conjured the unexpected image of driftwood, which, buffeted enough, grows grey and indistinct."

Throughout this collection there is discovery of the natural world, heartfelt patriotism of an immigrant, a boy who grows up steel-fisted, a mother desperate to cure her son, a man with an obsessive need to record everything he sees during his “passage upon the earth” while for another it is the kn
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lush, detailed, old-timey mind game stories about man and nature. Hard to describe, I felt like I was reading something from the 19th century. Nice find.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: Stories
Author: Daniel Mason
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Review Date: April 13, 2020
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

From the blurb:
“"Nine tales of human endurance, accomplishment, and epiphany told with style and brio" (Kirkus) from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner.
On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a disco
Benjamin Kahn
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I read the first few stories in this collection with great enthusiasm. I thought that they were very imaginative. But I found as the book wore on, there was a sameness to the approach to the narration. I don't know how to explain it, but Mason writes all the stories as if from a distance, with clinical detachment. This would work if it was used occasionally for effect, but when it's used in every story, it gets tiresome and the reader doesn't feel invested in the story or its outcome. The last t ...more
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthology
This is an anthology of various stories by Daniel Mason. There are nine stories in the collection. Each concerns some individual and their lives. The title story, which is the last in the collection, concerns the life and artistic work of Arthur Bispo do Rosario, who lived in Brazil, was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and spent fifty years in an institution, where he embroidered lists of all he encountered in spectacular works of art.
Other stories portray a boxer and the scientific collector Alfre
Julie Stielstra
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I so wanted to love Mason's novel The Winter Solder, and I did love important aspects of it. So it was a joyous relief to fall hard for this collection of short stories. I was hooked from the first page of the first story, "Death of the Pugilist," with its biblical structure and incantatory language that lights up a world of brutality, blood, and death and the literal fall of a man. From there to an almost hallucinatory wander with one of my heroes, Alfred Russel Wallace. There is a poignant ta ...more
Emily Jang
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are not ordinary short stories. I've never read Mason's other writing, but I'm astounded by the range of his settings, characters, subjects, themes. That is not to say the stories are scattered, for they share a narrative of "let me change the way you see the world." There are twists in every story, yet even the most fantastical, supernatural elements are made believable in Mason's craft. Going through this book was like turning over a snow-globe... though you never quite know how the word ...more
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Daniel Mason is the author of The Piano Tuner (2002), A Far Country (2007), The Winter Soldier (2018) and A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth (2020). He is a recipient of the Joyce Carol Oates Prize and the Northern California Book Award and has been shortlisted for the Jaes Tait Black Memorial Prize. His writing has been translated into 28 languages, and adapted for opera and stage. His short ...more

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