Cover image for The best short stories of William Kittredge.
The best short stories of William Kittredge.
Kittredge, William.
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Short stories. Selections
Publication Information:
Saint Paul, Minn. : Graywolf Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
220 pages ; 22 cm
Agriculture -- Thirty-four seasons of winter - Waterfowl tree -- Van Gogh field -- Kissing -- Be careful what you want -- Do you hear your mother talking? -- Balancing water -- Stone corral -- Breaker of horses -- Momentum is always the weapon -- Soap bear -- We are not in this together.
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"Kittredge paints with these colors: sky blue, night black, blood red. Nature has more--but none truer."-- The New York Times Book Review

"We were meat hunters. You spent money for shells, you brought home meat. I saw Teddy Spandau die on that account. Went off into open water chest deep, just trying to get some birds he shot. Cramped up and drowned. We hauled a boat down and fished him out that afternoon." --from "The Waterfowl Tree"

A master storyteller and essayist, William Kittredge is best known for his unflinching vision of the hardscrabble landscape of the West and the people who survive and die in it. His stories are stripped down but bristle with life to offer a dusty, relentless landscape; the smell of freshly turned dirt; the blunt conversations about work that needs doing; and the rare, quiet moment of reflection that amounts to nothing less than poetry. The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge represents the author's finest work, available together in a handsome edition.

Author Notes

William Kittredge grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Oregon and farmed there until he was 33, after which he taught Creative Writing at the University of Montana. The author of several books on the Western experience, he is often praised as one of the most important voices on the American West. He now lives in Missoula, Montana

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Kittredge's memoirs of growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Oregon--Owning It All (1987) and Hole in the Sky (1992)-- have become classics of western literature. His short fiction is lesser known, but this fine collection should help change that. The prose style is quintessentially western: no-nonsense declarative sentences, plainspoken, without artifice, yet expressing in their very simplicity the unspoken emotions that stand behind each syllable. Several of the stories, including "Be Careful What You Want," address themes familiar from the memoirs: disaffected children of wealthy western landowners dealing with their conflicted feelings about power and the land: "Every one of us has places to go sight-seeing in their own history." What Kittredge's people encounter in their sight-seeing is a chasm between the clarity of the natural world and the muck and mess of human relations. This universal dilemma is at the core of western literature, and Kittredge serves it straight up, free of the cliches of rugged individualism. His characters hurt one another with a kind of sad inevitability that makes their silence even more deafening. --Bill Ott Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Like their creator, the characters inhabiting this collection have firsthand knowledge of the perils of farming and ranching in Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. In "Breaker of Horses," for instance, Jules Russel lies on his deathbed recalling the horseback-riding accident that claimed the life of Ambrose Vega, head man at Black Flat Ranch. Characters in other stories contend with poverty, alcohol abuse, and infidelity, either in combination or separately. Kittredge treats his characters neither benevolently nor maliciously but with the same detached intimacy with which he regards the grand landscape of the American West he evokes so beautifully. The author of both story and essay collections and a memoir, Hole in the Sky, Kittredge is the winner of multiple writing awards and fellowships-and it's obvious why. Recommended for all libraries collecting Western American literature.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Agriculturep. 3
Thirty-Four Seasons of Winterp. 15
The Waterfowl Treep. 29
The Van Gogh Fieldp. 45
Kissingp. 61
Be Careful What You Wantp. 65
Do You Hear Your Mother Talking?p. 83
Balancing Waterp. 101
The Stone Corralp. 117
Breaker of Horsesp. 127
Momentum Is Always the Weaponp. 139
The Soap Bearp. 153
We Are Not in This Togetherp. 189