The debut by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic and City of Girls; a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist and New York Times Notable Book
When it appeared in 1997, Elizabeth Gilbert’s story collection, Pilgrims, immediately announced her compelling voice, her comic touch, and her amazing ear for dialogue. “The heroes of Pilgrims . . . are everyday seekers” (Harper’s Bazaar)—brave and unforgettable, they are sure to strike a chord with fans old and new.
Like Pam Houston's popular collection Cowboys Are My Weakness, Gilbert's first book of stories take place in the stark surroundings of the contemporary West. Whether Gilbert's characters find themselves in Missoula or New York, however, we see them struggle toward lives that always seem just beyond their grasp. In the title story, an East Coast girl challenges a Wyoming cowhand to run off with her, knowing they won't, knowing that the mountains that call them also keep them trapped. In "Tall Folks," an East Village bar owner sees the end of her business arrive with the opening of a strip joint across First Avenue. Looking back at the bar owner's habit of hiring women bartenders to attract customers, Gilbert writes: "She had done very well this way, brokering these particular and necessary loves." An eye for convincing detail and a comic's ear (" `Every good joke begins, "A man walks into a bar' ") mark each of these 12 stories. They waver only in the endings: too many trail off prematurely, before they can take on appreciable depth. The most obvious exception is "The Finest Wife," about an elderly schoolbus-driver who, one morning, finds all her past lovers waiting in place of the kindergartners she usually picks up. Told with an air of easy magic, this charming tale promises full-length, warm-blooded, compelling work to come. Author tour. FYI: Gilbert won the 1996 Paris Review New Discovery Prize.
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Gilbert's remarkable voice resonates deeply within all of her oddball characters, hard-baked survivors, lost dreamers , and twisted souls in this dazzling collection of stories. Every printed word rings true. Quite possibly some of her best work. Loved it!