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Problems with People: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) [Kindle Edition]

David Guterson

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“First-rate. . . . Humorous, ironic, and satiric. . . . Each story is realistic, bordering on surrealistic.” —The Boston Globe

“Beautifully rendered. . . . Show[s] us that despite our problems with one another, there may still be hope for us all.” —The New York Journal of Books

“Deeply affecting. . . . A haunting collection from a thoughtful storyteller.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Guterson is celebrated for his deeply atmospheric novels, and his electrifying short fiction is equally expressive.” —Booklist


Ten sharply observed, funny, and wise new stories from the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: stunning explorations of the mysteries of love and our complex desire for connection.

Ranging from youth to old age, the voices that inhabit Problems with People offer tender, unexpected, and always tightly focused accounts of our quest to understand each other, individually, and as part of a political and historical moment. These stories are shot through with tragedy—the long-ago loss of a young boyfriend, a son’s death at sea; poignant reflections upon cultural and personal circumstances—whether it is being Jewish, overweight and single, or a tourist in a history-haunted land; and paradigmatic questions about our sense of reality and belonging. Spanning diverse geographies—all across America, and in countries as distant as Nepal and South Africa—these stories showcase David Guterson’s signature gifts for characterization, psychological nuance, emotional and moral suspense, and evocations of small-town life and the natural world. They celebrate the ordinary yet brightening surprises that lurk within the dramas of our daily lives, as well as the return of a contemporary American master to the form that launched his astonishing literary career. 

This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  41 Rezensionen
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Quiet, Powerful Stories ... 23. April 2014
Von delicateflower152 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
In each of the short stories comprising "Problems with People", David Guterson explores the physical and emotional needs, as well as the concerns each one of us has, but may often try to deny. Among the subjects Guterson addresses are the need for social interaction and physical contact; the relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters; and the concern each of us with respect to our own aging and to that of others.

In most of the ten short stories, the main characters are unnamed; only minor characters have names. It is as if the majority of individuals are anonymous both to themselves and to others. They have not clearly defined their roles. It is only in the final two narratives that Guterson provides the primary characters in each vignette with names. The title of each narrative highlights the focal point of the story's action or the characters' impetus for their own reaction to events taking place in that particular piece.

David Guterson is a master of tight, uncluttered prose. His beautifully crafted work draws the reader into each story, creating empathy for the individual characters. He allows the reader to identify with the characters' situation. Without fostering distain for their weaknesses, Guterson is able to make the reader understand both the fears affecting the characters and the motivation for their actions.

"Problems with People" is a collection of quiet, powerful stories. Each addresses, without judgment or commentary, some aspect of the human condition. Each may give the reader reason to pause and to consider his or her own life and relationships. David Guterson is one author that the reader may count on to deliver a five-star work of literature.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Short Stories: The Added Complexities of Ordinary Life.... 14. April 2015
Von missmickeesunshine - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
An interesting short story collection authored by award winning novelist David Guterson: "Problems With People: Stories" explores the many conditions of humanity and the unexpected things that invariably happen as life unfolds in its unpredictable manner. Most of the stories richly detail areas in the Pacific Northwest around and in the Seattle area, the heavy traffic on interstate I-5, I-405, through Snoqualmie Pass also Mount Rainier; one story takes place in the popular resort Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. also world wide destinations which include Nepal, Delhi, India and Berlin, Germany. David Guterson lives in Washington state with his wife.

In the first and my favorite story: "Paradise", an older couple explore meeting though, which both seem unfamiliar with the challenges of online dating. Their first date was "arduous and painful", he spoke on another date of his former wife who had died of a heart attack while in the process of leaving their 26 year marriage. The best part of this story was another story told about the life of the lady growing up in Eastern Washington as a farmers daughter.

In the story, "Tenant", a landlord not inclined towards social interaction attempts to contact his tenant who is renting his condo.
The "Northwest Trek" is a Western Washington native natural habitat park which seems somewhat similar to the story "Pilanesburg" which involved an African safari park, where "Nelson" and his sister are fearful and locked in after the park closed.
A man in the story "Politics" navigates his way around the primitive culture in India seeking his journalist wife injured in a bus accident killing 3 people. He encounters an Indian boy who assisted and helped him avoid getting lost, yet wants to be paid extremely well to the point of tourist exploitation.
From the Book)... "Clement could be emotional, he was emotional, he was recently divorced, he'd been ill with a MRSA infection, he took things personally. Clement was an artist."
The peculiarities of obsessional thought and hyper-focus are evident in the story: "Feedback". While her husband was away on a three day business meeting the narrator fixated on a Jewish man Hamid McAdam: after snubbing him, she studied his online photos and teaching profile.
In "Hot Springs" a man goes on vacation with his wife and parents. His father, a retired judge is pleasant company, he is highly offended and embarrassed by his mother's lack of social graces, manners, and awareness of others.
"Krassavitseh" a son travels with his elderly father, a Holocaust survivor, staying in a 5* hotel near the Berlin University of the Arts. The father's bitterness against the German people is evident as they toured Jewish sites of WWII, a German Historical Museum and a concentration camp. They were surprised to find out a detail about their German tour guide at the end of the story.
The story "Photograph" is of tragedy. Hutchinson and his wife are notified by the Alaskan Coast Guard of the loss of their son Paul, on the fishing boat "Fearless". The family dealt with their grief, the captain arrived at their home to pay his respects.
Vivian, a domestic helper/dog walker helps a terminally ill man "Lou" walk his large aggressive dog "Bill" in the last story: "Hush". Vivian's care and interest develops over time into a friendship, as she wonders where Lou's family and friends are when he obviously needs more assistance beyond what she was hired to provide. This is a story of compassionate service that can't always be bought with money.

Overall, these stories of ordinary life were good, it was interesting to learn more about Jewish culture and attitudes which were noticeable in many story themes, as well as the nature, complexities, illness and faults of human behavior.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen You won't find any direct moralizing here, and no overt resolution.But like photographs, these stories expose us as vulnerable. 16. Juni 2014
Von Bookreporter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
David Guterson is best known for his hugely successful novel SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, but his first published work was the story collection THE COUNTRY AHEAD OF US, THE COUNTRY BEHIND. Now, two decades and four novels later, he returns to the short story form with PROBLEMS WITH PEOPLE.

Certainly Guterson’s maturity and life experience inform the problems with the people in these stories. In close third-person viewpoint, we live inside the heads of the characters as they react to a new woman in their life, a new tenant, their mother. The locales vary: from Seattle, familiar territory for Guterson characters, to South Africa, Berlin and Nepal. Many of the protagonists are professionals, many nominally Jewish, and all but one of them are middle-aged or older males. “Pilanesberg” features a man and his cancer-ridden sister temporarily locked in a wild animal preserve. In every story, unpleasantness, even horror, from the everyday to the historic, is noted with a keen but distanced eye.

“Another example: there was a lion in the park --- a rogue, bad, a lone hunter, crazy --- who serially killed lionesses averse to his advances and then, repeatedly, copulated with their dead bodies. Was it Pilanesberg that caused this, since, in effect, it was unnatural, a massive zoo?” The man is a photographer, spectacularly laid back. If he is sad about his sister’s pocked scalp, that sadness is not made explicit. The story ends with his taking pictures at dawn of the employees righting the garbage bins knocked over by baboons and meerkats “silently --- so as not to awaken the tourists in the chalets.” “He took pictures of them, too, because what else could he do in his situation? What should he do, beyond that?”

In the story “Feedback,” a teacher worries about her encounter with a former colleague in a park. Did she snub him? She googles him, trying to ease her conscience. “She’d been mean, which was ironic, because she wasn’t mean, she moved through the world trying not to be mean, mainly because it was better in the moral sense, but also because it was easier. Making a big deal about things, taking a stand, getting emotional, getting assertive, insisting, reacting, making someone’s problem your problem --- she felt she was good at avoiding all of that.” As the days pass and she trades emails with her colleagues about the man Hamish, who had left the college under a cloud of suspicion, her guilt about him waxes and wanes. They discover that Hamish has a photography exhibit and decide to visit. She spends 45 minutes viewing his photos. “Hamish, whose daguerreotype days appeared to be over, shot in bald and garish light. His people were flagrant. You could see all their blemishes. He exposed them as assailed, as vulnerable.”

You will not find any direct moralizing here, and no overt resolution. But like photographs, these finely observed stories do expose us as assailed, as vulnerable. To the extent that we relate to the characters, we are surprised, with them, when our expectations are thwarted; bewildered, sometimes, when what we think we know for certain is captured and shown in a different light. Guterson’s prose sparkles, and these stories make us think.

Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great Prose Stylist with Some Story Ending Problems 2. Juli 2014
Von M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
The good news in Guterson's collection (I've never read Guterson, much venerated writer, before) is that the prose is assured, precise, clean and very pleasing to read; the opening paragraph is always deft at creating the character's immediate crisis and sensibility; every story has a concrete, tactile sense of place; in the better stories, the characters suffer with confusion and ambiguity in their lives in a way that is convincing and satisfying.

However, the less than good news, for me anyway, is that there is a sentimental streak in some of the stories that read like romances dressed up in literary fiction such as the very promising "Paradise" about a senior citizen couple dating from and dealing with the awkwardness of intimacy in a convincing and hilarious manner until the story diverts into the woman telling a very long, overdone, sentimental story about a lost love from her teen years.

Another problem I had is that Guterson ends too many of his stories in the same way with the character straining for credulity over his or her life situation and the story ending on a question, and here I paraphrase, "Is this really happening to me?" This ending became a bit pat and predictable in a half dozen of the stories.

So while I'm impressed with Guterson's prose style and his adroit creation of character in the compressed short story form, I found my problem with sentimentality and pat endings to give this collection three and a half stars.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Lovely style and sense of atmosphere 11. Juni 2014
Von Monika - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The stories in Problems with People are ten snapshots of relationships, connections, human experiences, life. This collection explores how we relate to each other and how we perceive ourselves and those around us.

By far, I found "Shadow" to be the most memorable of all ten stories. A newly diagnosed dementia patient attempts to visit his youngest son. This experience causes him to shift from defiance in the face of his diagnosis to acceptance (and maybe resignation). It's difficult to watch, but Guterson's sense of style and atmosphere gently places a thought in the back of your mind: This happens in real life.

That reminder holds true in each of the stories in Problems with People. Whether it's the husband going to great lengths to try to connect with his estranged wife, the budding of an unusual but sweet friendship, or the parents hearing an account of their son's death, Guterson momentarily puts readers into someone else's shoes in a way that brings you out of each story with a little more insight, a little more compassion.

3 1/2 stars. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
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