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What Salmon Know

Reid, Elwood

43 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0385491212 / ISBN 13: 9780385491211
Published by Doubleday, New York, 1999
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From First Edition ,too Inc Bookstore (Moran, MI, U.S.A.)

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1 x 8.75 x 6 Inches; 226 pages; Signed by Author. Bookseller Inventory # 4329

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Bibliographic Details

Title: What Salmon Know

Publisher: Doubleday, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


From the author of the critically acclaimed If I Don't Six, brilliant stories of men in extremis that remind one of the works of Thom Jones, Rick Bass, and Raymond Carver--tales of tough men coping in a world tougher than they are.

Elwood Reid's powerful, bruising stories examine the soulful underside of the American male and the violence that sometimes accompanies disappointed dreams. The subject of these stories are all working men, part of a culture that's no longer relevant in a shinier America.

From the title story, in which two drunken Alaskan poachers fight some GIs over a bucket of salmon, to "All That Good Stuff," in which a softball team of alcoholic wrecks tries vainly to attain a tiny measure of redemption, to "Dryfall," in which a college dropout barely hanging on as a housepainter must save his brother from violent self-destruction, Reid gives the reader an American landscape where blue-collar manliness is a value besieged from without and corrupted from within.


Fans of Elwood Reid's football novel, If I Don't Six, shouldn't be surprised to find his first collection full of men at the fourth down with 10 yards to go. Not literally--in fact, there's not a gridiron in sight in What Salmon Know. But Reid has a disarming gift for putting his characters into dramatically fraught situations; his sense of story is infallible. In "Overtime," a plant manager forcefully suggests that a worker skip his daughter's volleyball game to work a second shift; when the girl is abducted and murdered after the game, the manager is left with a lingering, life-changing sense of responsibility. The main character in "Happy Jack" is a YWCA self-defense instructor who finds himself playing predator to one of the very students he's meant to be empowering. And in the title story, two drunken Alaskan good ol' boys watch with horror as a pair of GI's from Kentucky fillet a live salmon. Revenge on the fish's behalf is, of course, extracted. But then, Reid's men usually do come up bloody-fisted.

In more ways than one. Workingmen all, these characters live by their hands... or what's left of them, anyway. One fellow observes a pinkie-less coworker: "Now he looks like everybody else on the job--tainted with the work. The closest I've come is a Sawzall across my forearm when some pimple-faced rookie got cocky and kept zipping through a crooked doorframe, forgetting I was on the other side pulling shiners."

Unfortunately, Reid doesn't always seem to know what to do with his tough talkers once he wrangles them into these cleverly devised scenarios. In the aftermath of tension, generalizations fly: "And now what? Hours to push through. Work and water to put under some bridge?" To use another (all too appropriate) sports metaphor, Reid steals the ball every time, but occasionally fails to convert. --Claire Dederer

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The First Edition, too , is a small,seasonal, cabin bookstore located between a state forest and a national forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have been in business for 30 years and specialize in Great Lakes and Michigan history. There also is a room of modern first editions, a room of juvenile books , a room of craft books, gardening and a large selection of natural history . There is a small collection of used paperbacks for beach reading , just down the dune on beautiful Lake Michigan ( when it's warm enough )

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