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Winter Count

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  468 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
"Perfectly crafted. . . . [These] stories expand of their own accord, lingering in the mind the way intense light lingers in the retina."  --Los Angeles Times

"Animals and landscapes have not had this weight, this precision, in American fiction since Hemingway's young heroes were fishing the streams of upper Michigan and Spain." --San Francisco Chronicle

A flock of great blu
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 2nd 1999 by Vintage (first published 1981)
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Rating details
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Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jason by: Paul
Shelves: fiction, travel
My good friend Paul recommended this book to me. Because he described Barry Lopez as a naturalist writer I initially expected this book to be completely non-fictional. Boy was I wrong! After getting involved in the stories I was shocked at the supernatural twists and turns they took. However, once I got used to this unexpected formula I found that I really enjoyed the stories. They possess a character and flair that I don't think I've ever seen before. The stories were very captivating. A couple ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This collection of ten early short stories by Barry Lopez seems written more than a little under the influence of Borges. Elegantly told, they are designed to evoke a deep sense of wonder in the reader. The settings are often remote - the open prairie, the desert - and touch on what feel like the remote worlds of other cultures and other times, especially Native American.

The title story refers to the Indian practice of keeping a record of tribal history by representing the one most significant e
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
(currently re-reading)

I once had the pleasure of ghostwriting a speech introducing Barry Lopez, keynote speaker at a college commencement ceremony. I hadn't ever heard of him at the time, but was fascinated by what I learned as the friends, colleagues, and former students I contacted unanimously praised his tremendous talents and personality. I went home and promptly began reading everything of his that I could get my hands on.

"Winter Count" isn't his best known or most lauded book, but it's fir
tonia peckover
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Funny enough, the first time I read this book, I didn't realize I was reading fiction and not essays. Lopez grounds his stories so easily in the natural world - by geography and sensual imagery, but also by rhythm: each story feels like a plant unfurling from the ground, blossoming, then returning again to the earth - that it is easy to forget these aren't real experiences, real episodes in Lopez' own life. But no matter, these chapters, real or imagined, hold beautiful, precise language, glowin ...more
Daniel Simmons
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted collection of stories ("Buffalo" was the standout for me, and "The Lover of Words" the only misfire) about the natural world and man's (dis)placement therein. Sample lines: "He came to hear a story unfold, to regard its shape and effect. He thought one unpacked history, that it came like pemmican in a parfleche and was to be consumed in a hard winter" (p. 55). Reading these stories felt a bit like that -- although to be frank, I have no idea what a parfleche is.
Jonathan Hiskes
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Strange, supernatural stories about people and nature. "If one is patient," says one desert hermit, "if you are careful, I think there is probably nothing that cannot be retrieved."
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I became a big fan of Barry Lopez right after reading his most famous work “Arctic Dreams” and have always wanted to read his other works. Honestly didn’t know “Winter Count” was a short story collection before I bought it, but it’s nice to read some fiction from Lopez. His writing is simply beautiful, but I think I’ll seek more non-fiction of his in the future (perhaps short stories are just less my type?).
Vinnie Hansen
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A treat to read Lopez's gorgeous, evocative, intellectually challenging prose. I learned some new words. Farrago is "mixed fodder, mixture" or "confused mixture" a "hodgepodge" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate). I love this word. I can envision it in one of my future stories.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
i prefer his non-fiction. the stories had a certain uniqueness about them but there are much better short story collections.s
Penney Peirce
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Small, precious, beautiful, inspiring.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barry Lopez is a highly vaulted nature writer, but he is much more than that. You need a certain mindset to appreciate Lopez, but I love his works.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I have heard the dark hearts of the stones that beat once in a lifetime.
Best known today for his nature classic Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez showed off his prodigious gifts in this slim volume of short stories that came out five years earlier. Set principally in the wide open spaces of the American West, in the badlands of Wyoming and Montana and the Dakotas where only the ghosts of long-gone Indians now roam, these stories reveal Lopez as a master of mood and meditative language. Contemporary reviews likened his prose to pointillist paintings, to fine watercolours. I ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nine short - but well wound stories weaving myth, fairy-tale, nature and Native American culture into the mix. It felt like a good old western meeting up with Charles de Lint or Neil Gaiman. Lopez touches repeatedly on a likable notion: that the way North America's natural world has been documented and cataloged needs to be reexamined. Instead of allowing the standing European explorers/exploiters attempts to align everything found on this continent with the outline they brought from home - some ...more
**Review specifically regarding the short story "The Orrery"**

I was really interested by the way that, unlike "A Very Old Man" and the other pieces of magical realism I have been exposed to, this one felt like it occurred in a much closer time period, as well as in one that I could relate to. I haven't had much exposure to true Latin American culture, but I known and interacted with several people from Arizona. I've heard a lot about it, and so this one seemed much, much closer to home, which br
Abigail Hilton
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I discovered _Of Wolves and Men_ in high school, and read it until I could quote long passages. When I saw this little book by Lopez, I had to pick it up. _Winter Count_ is a book of essays that read like prose poetry. It is about American Indians and loss and mystery. Some of the essays are better than others, and some are kind of obtuse, but in the end, it does have coherent themes that hang together.

Something typical: I was going to criticize the author because he mentions lying on the beach
Priscilla Herrington
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
An epigraph to Winter count states:

Among several tribes on the northern plains, the passage of time from one summer to the next was marked by noting a single memorable event. / The sequence of such memories, recorded pictographically on a buffalo robe or spoken aloud, was called a winter count. / Several winter counts might be in progress at any one time in the same tribe, each differing according to the personality of its keeper.

In his short story collection, Barry Lopez has recorded natural ev
Jun 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Lopez shines when he's loosely writing about Native Americans. I was particularly struck by "Winter Count 1973" and "Buffalo"; even "Restoration". The stories are imbued with the trappings of scholarly research so that at times I couldn't tell if this was fiction or fact. The language is spare, yet sings off the page. His capture and command of natural imagery is nothing short of amazing. And then comes the story, "The Lover of Words." I sense what he's trying to do, though I'm left with a feeli ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare books which makes the distinctions between poetry and prose and between fiction and nonfiction all but meaningless. In a collection of searching, gentle, yearning, and mysterious episodes, Lopez creates a landscape of wind and memory. I found the book too beautifully contemplative to read all at once, for each chapter/story/meditation is an indrawn breath, as if in wonder, and demands that the reader still the voices that constantly clamor in our heads. The result is so ...more
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
thank you random customer for inspiring the research into this author and thank you jeffery for letting me borrow this book... i am a convert. barry lopez is extremely erudite and a masterful observer of nature. in this book, various anecdotes verge on the almost abstract, but are made succulently succinct via lopez's immense reservoir of naturalist (and/or all) knowledge & keen powers of prose reflections. weaving the personal into the mystical & then onto the even plain of science & ...more
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A collection of beautiful, simple and elegantly written stories. Memorable characters that have some incredibly compelling, but often very subtle connection to nature--sometimes a place, an animal, a landscape, or time in natural history. These are the elements that tie the stories together into a collection, and add richness to each story without being the driving force. The author has quite a sense of humor. Several of the stories have a hilarious little twist at the end, or cleverly razz the ...more
Oct 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer River Notes, but there are still glimpses of what makes Lopez one of my favorites. It's not the disappearing rivers or the sandstone held aloft, constellating in the wind or the other flourishes of magical realism (magical naturalism?. It's the simple, ineffable beauty of his imagery--flock of herons landing touching down on a snow blanketed NYC street, a man sweeping a patch of desert--that really blows my skirt up.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A book so beautiful it grips you in fascination. Lopez loves North America and he makes the reader love it by the urgency of his words. When I look forward to rereading a book before I've even finished it for the first time, I give it five stars. Stars are magnificent beings; I would give Lopez many stars.
Derek Emerson
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
Lopez has a gift for language and a unique sense of the natural world -- the resulting combination creates an unusual collection of stories. Like Borges, he blends fact/fiction with a mystical bent. My favorite is "The Orrery" about a mystic living in the desert who creates the cosmos with stones flying around him. Also really liked "Restoration."
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
I loved Barry Lopez's work when I was studying conservation in college, and I love his work now, more than 20 years later, for many of the same reasons: economical and evocative writing, intriguing and mysterious characters, and natural settings that deepen the reader's understanding without intruding on the pleasure of reading.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite authors. Whenever I read one of Mr. Lopez's works, my life is impacted greatly for a bit and I am taken over by reflection and consideration of the meaning of experiences both public and personal. These stories seemed as if he was speaking directly to me.
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
A couple of these stories, perhaps the most affecting, involve historians/anthropologists who, after long study of their subjects stories and culture, are overtaken by the meaning underneath and can no longer remain objective, or even function well anymore.
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Some of these stories were very moving. I appreciate the author's trying to connect our lives to nature amongst all of the industrialization we have created that surrounds us and tries to remove us from it. This is my first Barry Lopez book , and I intend to read more.
Gloria Erin
Jun 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Haunting and lyrical, Lopez once again took me on a journey of discovery and dreamscapes, an exploration of the mythic and the mundane brought forth by the delicate touch of his pen. A book to savor on winter nights, and to return to as a vacation for the mind.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
This collection reads more like poetry and especially appealed to someone caught in between the East and West Coasts.

Lopez becomes more and more abstract as he goes along; he eases you into it.

My favorites were "Restoration" and "Winter Herons".
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Barry Holstun López is an American author, essayist, and fiction writer whose work is known for its environmental and social concerns.

López has been described as "the nation's premier nature writer" by the San Francisco Chronicle. In his non-fiction, he frequently examines the relationship between human culture and physical landscape, while in his fiction he addresses issues of intimacy, ethics an

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