Cover image for A good scent from a strange mountain
A good scent from a strange mountain
Butler, Robert Olen.
Personal Author:
First Grove Press edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
269 pages ; 21 cm
Open arms -- Mr. Green -- The trip back -- Fairy tale -- Crickets -- Letters from my father -- Love -- Mid-autumn -- In the clearing -- A ghost story -- Snow -- Relic -- Preparation -- The American couple -- A good scent from a strange mountain -- Salem -- Missing.
Reading Level:
1070 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Robert Olen Butler's lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Now Grove Press is proud to reissue this contemporary classic by one of America's most important living writers, in a new edition of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain that includes two subsequently published stories -- "Salem" and "Missing" -- that brilliantly complete the collection's narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.

Author Notes

Robert Olen Butler is a novelist, screenwriter, educator, and short-story writer who grew up in Granite City, Illinois.

Butler served in Vietnam. Following the Vietnam War, Butler began writing. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Paris Review, and The Saturday Review, as well as in four annual editions of the Best American Short Stories and six annual editions of New Stories of the South. A collection of his stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler's novels include The Alleys of Eden, Countrymen of Bones, and Sun Dogs. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Butler also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches creative writing at McNeese State University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Butler's Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection presents the voices of 15 fictional Vietnamese living, now, in Louisiana, where the author has made his home for many years. The five fine stories selected are quite distinct, but common to all is a tension between the memories and traditions of the past and the stark reality of the new American present. A dutiful woman caring for her grandfather's parrot, a businessman who longs to feel more intensely for his wife, a Saigon whore looking for love in New Orleans, a former spy practicing voodoo on his wife's new lover, and an old man visited by the ghost of Ho Chi Minh, all are evoked with luminous clarity as their stories reach an epiphany that in some ways touches the very limits of dream and desire. Butler's speaking voice, bland and thin, can coat with surface poignancy stories that don't need it (because they have the real thing), but he moves them along smoothly with a strong sense of how his people think. What Kay Bonetti's interview lacks in spontaneity, it gains in articulation, for Butler, who teaches writing, is given plenty of room to express notions about his work, and about the meaning of art in general, that are clearly familiar to him. Being in Vietnam during the war was, he claims, a defining moment, but he never tells, and Bonetti never asks, what he was doing there, who he was working for and why, key questions for any listener who feels strongly about the war. But on the whole, this is an excellent introduction to a writer who has given a voice to Vietnam that we had never before heard. Recommended.‘Peter Josyph, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Open Armsp. 1
Mr. Greenp. 17
The Trip Backp. 29
Fairy Talep. 45
Cricketsp. 59
Letters From My Fatherp. 65
Lovep. 73
Mid-Autumnp. 95
In the Clearingp. 103
A Ghost Storyp. 111
Snowp. 125
Relicp. 137
Preparationp. 143
The American Couplep. 155
A Good Scent From A Strange Mountainp. 235