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Sworn Before Cranes

Gilfillan, Merrill

5 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 051759739X / ISBN 13: 9780517597392
Published by Crown, 1994
Used Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From The Haunted Bookshop, LLC (Iowa City, IA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed by the author at the title page with no date or inscription. Clean and bright; binding tight; some softening at the spine head and a hint of rubbing at both spine ends of the hard cover; jacket shows only a little gentle corner rubbing, otherwise lovely, unclipped, now protected in a clear sleeve. Bookseller Inventory # 064745

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Sworn Before Cranes

Publisher: Crown

Publication Date: 1994

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by the Author

Edition: First Printing.

About this title


A collection of short stories journeys back to the landscape of the Great Plains to explore the lives of such characters as an Ethiopian teenager in search of his first Native American

From Kirkus Reviews:

Heart-wrenchingly well-written stories, often as stark as an Andrew Wyeth farmscape. Gilfillan has three books of poetry and a prize-winning essay collection (Magpie Rising, not reviewed). Most of us shouldn't read, and perhaps couldn't absorb, more than one of these stories at a time. Set in the rusted gas-pump Flicker River country of the Great Plains, they're filled with retarded folk (``Everyone called them the Slows...''), misfits, castoffs, starving Indians, Ethiopian immigrants, and traders who run ``bone sheds'' and sell ``Used Cow Parts,'' antelope and elk bones, and live rattlesnakes. Dogs loiter about the yard or creep onto their rag beds under the porch. Many of the stories seem to offer only description without narrative, but that's a deception: Looking back from the rise at a story's end, a reader is likely, at that moment, to discern the pattern of what has just been traversed. The title story opens: ``At first glance, nothing in the valley appears animate, unless you count the few snowflakes hedging from a glaring white sky as animate, or the ice-edged low-water creeks knifing their crooked ways. Even the frozen dirt roads, snow-white against the pale grasslands, show no tracks or signs of passage.... Then, the good deep well, engineless cars filled with rough overflow storage, a brown horse and a colt, laundry frozen on the line, a big pile of firewood.'' Out of such stillness some meatless Indians sneak up on a herd, kill and quarter a cow, take the four legs, leave the frozen fuselage, and go home to make a bubbling Christmas soup: ``Three grandmothers sat together in a corner, so old and leaflike and primary that they communicated by the positions of their hands in their quiet laps.'' Like the land they describe, Gilfillan's stories reward close attention by revealing layered signs of life. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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