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You Are Not a Stranger Here

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,525 ratings  ·  424 reviews
In his bestselling and lavishly praised first book of stories, Adam Haslett explores lives that appear shuttered by loss and discovers entire worlds hidden inside them. The impact is at once harrowing and thrilling.

An elderly inventor, burning with manic creativity, tries to reconcile with his estranged gay son. A bereaved boy draws a thuggish classmate into a relationship
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Anchor (first published July 2nd 2002)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  3,525 ratings  ·  424 reviews

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Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

The first four short stories in this collection ripped my heart to shreds. I have never felt so moved by short fiction; Adam Haslett has this stunning, almost scary ability to make you care so goddamn much about his characters even when they inhabit 30 pages or less. His stories focus on grief, mental illness, and sexuality. Some of my favorites include: "Notes to My Biographer," in which a mentally ill father visits his son for the first time in years; "The Beginnings of Grief," about
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to try to be coherent here, but to be honest I am still mentally reeling and staggering about from this one. I don't read short story collections very often, because as a rule I prefer the character development and emotional attachment that comes with getting lost in a long novel, but I hereby vow to read every single thing Adam Haslett ever writes- short story collection, novel, book of haikus, whatever. Because Haslett is the kind of author who can give me chills, make me tear up, ma ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection may have ruined me for all the short story collections I haven't read yet. Subtle perfection. 4.5 stars
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to LenaRibka by: Nick Pageant

3,5 stars.

I really have to start to read blurbs. As always, I picked up a book, knowing nothing about its content. I had no idea that You Are Not a Stranger Here was a collection of short stories. After the first chapter I knew for sure that I was enjoying the writing but trying to figure out where the story was going on and how the figures from the first chapter were connected to the figures in the second chapter(?!). The moment I started the third chapter- or actually the third story in this c
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who prefer novels to short stories. This book may change your perception forever.
Recommended to Giedre by: Laura
To start with, I am not a fan of short stories. That is why I know I would have never picked up Haslett's collection of short stories "You are not a Stranger Here" if it was not for Laura's inspiring review, which you can read here.

It's not an easy task to describe these magical sketches about the imperfect lives of imperfect people. Complicated family relationships, homosexuality, coming of age, mental disorders, loss and trauma are ingeniously mixed by Haslett's talented hand and presented to
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Encounters with Death & Illness

Yes, you must be wondering what I found so wonderful in that that I gave it all the stars. It's the writing, the people in it that made me eager to read rather than sad. In fact I had to make myself slow down and read only two a day so that I could savour them properly as they should be.

The people Adam Haslett wrote are the kind I want to wrap in cotton wool and keep safe but nah that would be numbing, I have to let them go, set them free, to breathe, live and
Nick Pageant
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Please read Lena's wonderful review here.

Heartbreaking, liberating, inspiring. This is by far one of the most accomplished pieces of writing that I've ever read. I read it when it first came out and then again over Christmas. Adam Haslett is a genius. You will savor each and every sentence.
Julie Ehlers
For me, You Are Not a Stranger Here is in some ways defined by what it isn’t. It doesn’t abide by any of the trends we’ve seen in short stories in recent years: There’s no magical realism. No confessional diary-like stuff. No stories where very little happens and then the whole thing is redeemed by an epiphany, or that end just as they seem to be getting started.

Instead, what we have here is actual short stories. There’s intriguing action and dialogue all the way through. There are some lovely c
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Here are some of the things this book is about: fathers and sons, ailing relatives, madness and its inheritability, homosexuality and its consequences, the slippery boundaries between sanity and in-.

It's sad and lonely and full of longing and ache. Many of the stories end with a twist—not like the twist of a road under your wheels, but the twist of a metaphorical knife in a metaphorical back, making an already sorrowful and unfortunate tale even sadder. Everything is overlain with melancholy, w
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This idea of living your life as an elegy, inoculating yourself against the present. So much easier if you can see people as though they were just characters from a book. You can still spend time with them. But you have nothing to do with their fate. It’s all been decided. The present doesn’t really matter, it’s just the time you happen to be reading about them. Which makes everything easier.*

To say that I was overwhelmed reading this anthology would be an understatement. It’s not an easy read s
Really powerful series of short stories mostly focused on mental illness. I'm not typically a fan of the short story as I prefer having more time for character and story development. However, this collection is one of the best I've read. It's poignant and nuanced handling of mental health is outstanding. As someone who knows quite a bit about the subject, each of these stories felt real and raw and true. I highly recommend it, particularly if you'd like more insight into the mentally ill. So gre ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the nine stories in this debut collection, at least six are definite 5 star gems...the rest, although equally well-written, I was less enthusiastic about, but I decided the collection as a whole did merit five stars. As in his most recent book, Imagine Me Gone (my favorite book of the past year, hence impelling me to read Haslett's backlist), the emphasis here is on both mental illness (usually depression or bipolar disease) and the effects of such on family dynamics. Only two of them exhibit ...more
“You and all the inheritors of wealth who think life is a matter of perfected sentiment. You are wrong.” (“The Volunteer” 237)

You know those books you should have just gone ahead and read because people you trust swore by them? You Are Not a Stranger Here: Stories by Adam Haslett has been sitting on our shelves since I think 2003. It is Sean’s copy and he and our friend Kevin were the ones swearing. In my own defense, each were wrecked by the read (in a good way) and sad was a word oft repeated
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone on the planet. It's an important, necessary book to read.
Recommended to Chad by: Michael Lowenthal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a solid menagerie of stories, and a great reminder of just how much I appreciate a well-curated short story collection. Most of the stories bring to life characters who are suffering from some form of mental illness, and I felt a tremendous pathos and humanity while I made my way through the book. My favourite stories by far were "The Beginnings of Grief" and "Reunion." I'm now extra-excited to read Imagine Me Gone.
Wow, this is one of the best books of short stories I've ever read. Top 5 for sure. I loved four of them -- "Notes to My Biographer," "The Beginnings of Grief," "Devotion," and "Divination" -- and the rest were merely very good.

"Biographer" is actually in the running for my favorite short story ever. It starts the book off with such a bang, a man who you only realize two pages in is on a manic bender, this searing, frenetic freight train screaming toward a collapsed bridge. I was amazed and enth
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you are a fan of mental disorders rendered honestly in a modern world, here you go!
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 STARS.
Absolutely brilliant short stories. Underlying theme in all of them is that someone is ill, often with a mental health issue. The only negative for me and this is the case with most short story books I read, is that I want more. The story ends and I want it to go on. But I guess that is good as well. Each story in this book made me think and ponder. Will definitely read more by this author.
Patrick Faller
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was not one of my favorite books, but it does stand as one of the more interesting, challenging collections I've read, mostly because Haslett's fiction delves into highly charged issues without sacrificing narrative integrity but also because Haslett's prose is so perplexing, at once seeming carefully composed and ostentatiously extravagant in its use of detail.

Haslett explores mental illness and homosexuality as sources of societal stigma, following his characters as they struggle with fa
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Perhaps i had high expectations for this book, or high hopes, as my expectations of anything are generally pretty low. Or perhaps i was biased by the silly picture of the author on the back, with that pseudo-Truman Capote thing going on. Everything i'd heard described this as genius, the next great writer, etc.. and there is definitely talent here. But i found it all a bit too controlled, especially the humor, which i recognized as humor, and appreciated a certain cleverness in the humor, but i ...more
Larry Buhl
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dark, dark, dark. That works for me. All of the stories have to do with alienation, depression, homosexuality (a brutal coming out, dying of AIDS, resigning to a life of no affection), decay, mental illness... am I missing something? All of these topics are great, and the overarching theme is, I guess, alienation. But the stories are uneven. Some of them, like "The beginning of grief," and "War's End," pack a punch and lingered with me days later. Others are ambitious but fall flat. A few seem p ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I didn't realize how much this short story compilation would affect me. These stories really touch on dark emotions and the borders of humanity that are sometimes taboo. I loved the darkness and sinister feeling in some of the stories. My favorite one was definitely "The Beginning of Grief." It is a tremendous representation of what some people go through during stages of loss and even self-hate.

2nd read: I found appreciation hidden where it was not obviously present for some of these stor
I was suspicious of the book when it came out because rarely does a short story collection receive that much attention and that many stellar reviews (how could it be true). But it IS good, very good. Several stories in the collection are truly excellent; the title story is one of my favorites.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
Man oh man he's good!
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love short stories and Adam Haslett. His stories, though, are not easy to read and most are dark and deal with depression. An exceptional writer and story teller.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very good buddy read with Sofia and Maya. :) Review to come.
Joachim Stoop
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
As I saw written in other reviews: 6 of 9 of these stories are outstanding
Raul Clement
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Saw him read from his new novel yesterday. Ultimately, his writing strikes me as a little bland. He's good with character and in this collection he does some nifty experimenting, but there's something a little careful and restrained about even his experiments. His stuff seems over-workshopped. I'd compare him to Jonathan Franzen--the poor man's version.

There is one truly great story in this collection, though: Devotion. It's about a brother's betrayal of his sister and the long-term consequences
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorite books! It's a crying shame that Haslett decided to go to law school instead of continuing his literary career. I highly recommend this book. In fact, I would give it six stars if I could.
Bryn Hammond
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
These stories seemed plain and didn't grab me by the throat.
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