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michaelhartford

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The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge

The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge - William Kittredge This collection of Kittredge’s short stories from Graywolf Press makes a good Western companion to Graywolf’s Thomas Williams collection. Like the Williams stories, these are stories about men summing up their lives, coming to peace with their pasts. But where Williams’ men find themselves resolving their lives in the context of relationships with people, Kittredge’s men resolve their lives in solitude, or in relation to an unforgiving Western landscape.The characters in these stories tend to keep their own counsel; even their internal monologues leave much unsaid. Their motivations and intentions are left somewhat mysterious. They do odd things: they shoot bears to avenge a stranger’s death, they reluctantly ride along with a crop duster, they try to teach fumbling lessons to a boy who may have committed a horrible collection of murders. The stories don’t resolve cleanly–there are no great revelations that make everything suddenly clear–but they are still satisfying in their quiet way.Kittredge belongs to the laconic tradition of American letters, like Ernest Hemingway and Norman Maclean (indeed, Kittredge was a co-producer of the film version of A River Runs Through It). The pacing of these stories is slow, the use of words economic; Kittredge’s transparent style is perfectly suited to these quietly majestic stories.