Pilgrims

( 10 )

Overview


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.
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Overview


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.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Detroit Free Press
Gilbert's spry stories roam from Wyoming to New York City, from Minnesota to Texas. Cowboys, strippers, magicians—her characters are "everyday people whose...rich exterior lives mask simple, if brave, hopes and dreams.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
Library Journal
Gilbert's first collection of short stories is remarkable for its breadth, range of setting, and subject matter. Each world her characters inhabit, whether ranchlands in the West or the Bronx Terminal Vegetable Market, is authentic and fully realized. Her stories do not finish with clever twists or pat endings; we simply spend time with her characters and believe that they go on living after the story is finished. Without editorializing, Gilbert lets us discover the characters; when we read of "The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen)," we also learn the important things he did know. And though Rose led a life of unrepentant promiscuity, she was, after all, "The Finest Wife." -- Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Library, Moscow
Library Journal
Gilbert's first collection of short stories is remarkable for its breadth, range of setting, and subject matter. Each world her characters inhabit, whether ranchlands in the West or the Bronx Terminal Vegetable Market, is authentic and fully realized. Her stories do not finish with clever twists or pat endings; we simply spend time with her characters and believe that they go on living after the story is finished. Without editorializing, Gilbert lets us discover the characters; when we read of "The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen)," we also learn the important things he did know. And though Rose led a life of unrepentant promiscuity, she was, after all, "The Finest Wife." -- Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Library, Moscow
Detroit Free Press
Gilbert's spry stories roam from Wyoming to New York City, from Minnesota to Texas. Cowboys, strippers, magicians--her characters are "everyday people whose...rich exterior lives mask simple, if brave, hopes and dreams.
Liam Callanan
The author 'embraces the bizarre and fabulous with similar enthusiasm.' -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A fine first collection of 12 stories that are richly varied in setting and content, and enlivened by their author's flair for vigorous dialogue and concise summary statement.

Gilbert's tales are ostensibly linked by the metaphor indicated by her book's title (and underscored by her use as epigraph of the opening lines of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales). It's true that all her characters seek respect or self-definition, and also that many of them are looking for love, of whatever kind is available, in all the wrong places with all the people likeliest to hurt or disappoint them. More-or-less conventional sexual situations are explored with economy and wit in the title story's account of a young cowboy's truculent relationship with a female ranch-hand, the Saroyan-like "Tall Folks" in which a woman saloon owner slakes her loneliness, as it were, by falling for her handsome young nephew, and the amusing "Landing," about a rootless woman's fascination with a sexy paratrooper. Gilbert strikes deeper with several more ambitious stories, most notably the resonant "Elk Talk," a skillful symbolic revelation of a woman's endangered idyllic life in the Wyoming mountains; "The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen)" (Gilbert has a thing for unwieldy titles), a clever picturing of adolescent confusion, presented through an ingeniously handled omniscient narration; and "The Famous Torn and Restored Lit Cigarette Trick," a nicely understated account of a successful Hungarian immigrant in Pittsburgh whose violent nature becomes the guiding principle in his life. Ranging further still, Gilbert offers (in "At the Bronx Terminal Vegetable Market") a hauntingly vivid portrait of a naive porter who tries to convince himself he can run for president of his mob-controlled union.

The best kind of debut volume: a striking display of a versatile writer flexing her muscles and tackling a broad array of subjects and themes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143113379
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/25/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 403,098
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims-a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares-and a novel, Stern Men. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.

Biography

While Elizabeth Gilbert's roots are in journalism -- she's a Pushcart Prize-winning and National Magazine Award-nominated writer -- it's her books that have granted her even more attention.

Gilbert departed from reporting in 1997, with the publication of her first collection of short fiction, Pilgrims. A finalist for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award, Pilgrims was also selected as a New York Times Notable Book, was listed as one of the "Most Intriguing Books of 1997" by Glamour magazine, and went on to win best first fiction awards from The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares.

Since then, Gilbert has successfully alternated between fiction and nonfiction -- a high-wire act that has paid off in a string of critically acclaimed bestsellers that includes her first full-length novel, Stern Men (2000); The Last American Man (2002), a National Book Award for Nonfiction; and Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia (2006), a celebrated spiritual memoir that landed on several year-end Best Books lists.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Gilbert:

"I was once observed talking in my sleep, smiling with deep bliss as I said, ‘Ah...the writer's life!'"

"I was a terrible crybaby and coward as a child. I still cry a lot and am afraid of many things, like, for instance, surfing, skiing, and the possibility that somebody somewhere might be mad at me."

"I once accosted Wally Shawn in a restaurant where I was a waitress and he was a patron. I said to him something like, ‘You're a lovely, lovely man who writes lovely, lovely plays! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Wally Shawn!' He backed away slowly."

"I am far more of a loner than people would imagine. But I am the most gregarious and socially interactive loner you ever met. The thing is, I am fascinated by people's stories and I'm very talkative and can't ever say No to anything or anyone, so I tend to over-socialize, to give away too much of my time to the many people I adore. Therefore, one of the only ways I can ever be alone is if I go traveling solo. This is the secret reason I travel so much, and to such distant places. To get away from everyone I know. I love my friends and family, but I also love it when they can't find me and I can spend all day reading or walking all alone, in silence, eight thousand miles away from everyone. All alone and unreachable in a foreign country is one my most favorite possible things to be."

"The Disney movie Coyote Ugly was based on an article I wrote for GQ about my experience as a bartender in an East Village dive. I just had to add that bizarre fact because I still can't really believe it myself."

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    1. Hometown:
      Hudson Valley, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 18, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waterbury, Connecticut
    1. Education:
      BA, New York University, 1991 (Political Science)
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Pilgrims 1
Elk Talk 19
Alice to the East 33
Bird Shot 49
Tall Folks 69
Landing 85
Come and Fetch These Stupid Kids 95
The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen) 109
The Names of Flowers and Girls 129
At the Bronx Terminal Vegetable Market 147
The Famous Torn and Restored Lit Cigarette Trick 175
The Finest Wife 201
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    So-so....

    If you have read "Eat Love Pray" and loved it as I did, don't expect the same from "Pilgrims". It is an older book and a collection of short stories, neither of which am I complaining about. Gilbert's writing and story lines are original and well-written, but most of them leave you hanging and not quite sure why she stopped exactly where she did. I find myself both loving and hating it at the same time. Not her finest hour, but apparently she improves with time, like a fine wine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    So So

    I am a big fan of Eat Pray Love, but for some reason this book didn't quite stick. It was several different tales that were interesting enough on their own but I couldn't find any real substance in the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Not recommended

    Very crude dialog of short stories of the worst scenarios of the nastiest redneck people with words of ringworm, ringing pigeons necks, and a "whole lot of crude swearing"
    Bottom line: you feel more disgusted with each page.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 8, 2009

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    Posted July 23, 2010

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    Posted December 30, 2009

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    Posted July 1, 2013

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    Posted August 13, 2011

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    Posted October 22, 2008

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    Posted July 29, 2010

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