Ernie's Ark: Stories [NOOK Book]

Overview

Acclaimed novelist Monica Wood again turns her keen eye and wry humor to small town Maine. Nine interrelated stories create a layered and complex portrait of a community in the midst of crisis as a strike wears on at the paper mill, and the residents of Abbott Falls feel the reverberations of the towns shifting fortune. Ernie, just days shy of retirement when the strike hits, finds new purpose in building an ark in the backyard. Written with a quiet grace and lyrical power, Ernies Ark is a moving work by a writer...
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Ernie's Ark: Stories

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Overview

Acclaimed novelist Monica Wood again turns her keen eye and wry humor to small town Maine. Nine interrelated stories create a layered and complex portrait of a community in the midst of crisis as a strike wears on at the paper mill, and the residents of Abbott Falls feel the reverberations of the towns shifting fortune. Ernie, just days shy of retirement when the strike hits, finds new purpose in building an ark in the backyard. Written with a quiet grace and lyrical power, Ernies Ark is a moving work by a writer who understands the vagaries and hopes of the human heart.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nine linked stories revolve around a beleaguered Maine paper-mill town in Ernie's Ark. Ernie Whitten is laid off three weeks before his retirement and constructs an ark in his backyard as a tribute to his dying wife, Marie. The CEO of the company that owns the mill takes a road trip with his estranged daughter and the results are both hilarious and harrowing. Monica Wood (My Only Story) does a remarkable job of illuminating the characters' inner lives"from disgruntled union workers to a flower store owner in a troubled marriage"skillfully layering their brief but complex stories with humor, empathy and melancholy.
From the Publisher
Ernie Whitten is out of work. He's a pipe fitter at the local paper mill, and the union there has gone on strike. Three more weeks and he'd be retired, but now he might not make it. The mill has hired replacement workers - scabs - and Ernie may be out of a job.

But that's not the worst of it. Ernie's wife, Marie, is dying of cancer. Angry? You bet he's angry. So what does he do? He builds an ark in his yard. This is the idea that fuels "Ernie's Ark," Monica Wood's new collection of related stories set int he fictional town of Abbott Falls, Maine, which feels an awful lot like Jay, Maine, a town that was nearly destroyed by a prolonged strike at a paper mill in the 1980s. Wood is keenly interested in how people deal with anger and how they try to relate to one another. The loving character portraits that form her stories help us understand not only the people of Maine (yes, she lives there) but also the human condition.

The ark, for example. What is it? Is it Ernie's final gift to his wife? Is it an outlet for his anger? Is it an offer to God, a plea for him to spare Marie's life? Is it a symbolic attempt to help Marie and himself escape their problems?

Is it a lonely response to a situation beyond his control? Is it art?

To some extent, we supply these answers ourselves, which is a credit to Wood's storytelling style. There's a two-degrees-of-separation aspect to these tales, underscoring the notion that the people who inhabit this small town are seeking - often awkwardly, often in vain - some sort of connection. As the focus moves from person to person, the veiwpoint shifts as well. Some stories are told in the first person; some have angrier voices than others.

What doesn't change is the subtly disguised ideas that anger, loss, and desperation are related and must be confronted. Not even the young man who abruptly abandons his plan to attend Harvard so he can live alone in the woods, a la Thoreau, can escape. "He would return to the enraged town where he did not fit in, and leave again when it was time," Wood writes.

In the book's second story, the CEO of Ernie's employer takes an impromptu road trip from his NEw YOrk office with his estranged daughter and they attmept to sort out their problems on their way to the mill in Abbott Falls, only to encounter more anger. In another story, an intruder startles Marie, who is alone at the family's summer camp. (Why is she alone? Ah, that's another story.) Years later, the intruder seeks forgiveness. But is it too late? Do anger and loss trump compassion?

Loss and anger - especially restrained anger - take on a life of their own, almost becoming characters themselves, right from the book's opening lines: "Ernie was an angry man. He felt his anger as something apart from him, like an urn of water balanced on his head, a precarious weight that affected his gait...his willingness to move through a crowd."

The character-study aspect of "Ernie's Ark" is its strong suit. Though Wood admires the people with whom she shares Maine, she neighter patronizes nor reveres them. There are no good guys and no bad guys. The officer who harasses Ernie in the first story has his own story ot tell, and he's not the guy you thought he was. The Mercedes-driving CEO doesn't care about people, right? Then why is his most important mission to reconnect with his daughter? "I shepherd her into the motel lobby," he tells us, "thinking to keep my hand on her shoulder, the way I imagine a father would." You feel for the guy despite his smugness.

People lie in Abbott Falls. They deceive one another. They misjudge. They succumb to impulses better ignored. But they regret, they love, they rally around one another, and they hope. It's not such a bad place to live. -Boston Globe

Becasue another book about a dying factory town in Maine won the Pulitzer Prize this year, it would be easy to make Monica Wood's "Ernie's Ark" suffer by comparison. Yet Wood's slim, thoughtful short-story collec

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811870672
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 7/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 116,280
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Monica Wood is the author of the novels My Only Story and Secret Language. Her fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies and has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Maine.
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Table of Contents

Ernie's Ark 11
At the Mercy 31
That One Autumn 49
The Temperature of Desire 69
The Joy Business 91
Visitors 109
Take Care Good Boy 129
Solidarity Is Not a Floor 151
Shuffle, Step 171
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Loved it!

    I could not put this book down. Each story, though connected, stands on its own and draws you further and further into the town of Abbott Falls. Kudos to the small Portland Me bookstore that helped me discover Monica Wood!

    16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Not happy about the language...

    I was really enjoying the first chapter. Then, as soon as I started chapter two, the g-d word started. I can put up with a LOT, as far as language, but that one I CANNOT abide. There is no reason for it. I wish BN would warn the readers about language, as some of us are sensitive to it and do not want to spend good money supporting disrespectful garbage like that. I am VERY disappointed.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Good, quick read

    I am not usually a fan of short stories, but the way these stories are all interwoven makes it and excellent, interesting read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2014

    Interesting

    An interesting book. A town and a few of its people in a few short stories. Well worth reading, surprisingly good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Check it out!

    This was a very moving, different book. Not at all what I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. A quick read because it is hard to stop. Each chapter opens more interest in the characters. I may just have to read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    This was a really great read. Highly recommend!!

    This was a really great read. Highly recommend!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 9, 2013

    I've only read Ernie's Ark, the first story in this collection,

    I've only read Ernie's Ark, the first story in this collection, but it was a charming, enjoyable selection! I would purchase the book for first story alone! Then, if the other stories are as entertaining, what a bargain!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Just couldn't get into it

    I started this book and really lost the story line of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Really enjoyed this book

    I will be looking for more from Monica Wood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2012

    Interesting & Different

    This book really draws you in & holds you in it's
    grip. Very touching and also humorous.
    Wonderful story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    A really good read

    A kalideascope of characters around a single event.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2012

    Really enjoyed this book

    I am a sucker for short stores and really liked this one as all of the stories were set in the same city/state and the characters were intertwined.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I found it very hard to finish this book. I didn't realize that

    I found it very hard to finish this book. I didn't realize that the chapters were "short stories". When I finally got into a chapter, it would end and it seemed another book seem to begin. I always finish any book I start and I finished this one, but it took awhile. I have read over 15 books this summer and this was the most disappointing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    I liked this book

    It was interesting to see how different people reacted to the plant shutdown and how their lives interacted.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Recommend it for light reading

    A good light book but I would have liked it better if it had been a little longer. Think the author could have expanded on the book. A touching story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Enjoyed to the end

    I picked this up because it was the Daily Find but really enjoyed it when I got into reading it. A story about a strike at a paper mill in Maine, it is interesting to follow all the different characters in the book and how their lives are intertwined. Not a long book but Wood is able to draw the reader in and keep them interested in all the characters, in how their lives are affected by the mill strike and the reactions of the other characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Worth Reading!

    This is a thought provoking, yet easy read. Ms Wood calls us to pay attention to all of our relatinships, regardless of the circumstances which we may or may not be able to do something about. I will read Ernie's Ark again; I highly recommend it study groups of any kind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Excellent!

    This was, to me, a hard-to-put down little book! It does "preach" a little but is very subtle and has some good "lessons" in it that can apply to other things that just the ark that Ernie built in his back yard. A very moving novelette. It's a keeper and one I'll read again.

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  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Great stand-alone stories, linked just enough so each one fleshe

    Great stand-alone stories, linked just enough so each one fleshes out the plot and characters of the others. Very enjoyable collection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    Nice, quick read

    Enjoyed the story of the town. Some of the characters were a bit flat though, but a nice before bed read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews

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