Torturer's Apprentice: Stories

( 4 )

Overview

Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in "The Vulgar Soul" or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, this extraordinary debut collection of stories never settles for easy sentiments or assurances. Though fluent in a variety of narrative voices, the volume is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Imposing neither a single style nor a repeated structure, Biguenet addresses a range of subjects ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (37) from $1.99   
  • New (1) from $31.45   
  • Used (36) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 2 of 4
Showing 11 – 20 of 36 (4 pages)
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$2.95
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(57)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Very Good
Hardcover Very Good 0060198354 2nd printing, Ecco hardcover w/ DJ, 2001. Book is VG+, w/ clean text, tight binding. DJ is VG to VG+, w/ light edge/shelf wear. Free delivery ... confirmation. Read more Show Less

Ships from: San Francisco, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$2.95
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(254)

Condition: Good
Good Former Library Hardcover, Stickers To Cover, Stamps On Inside Cover, Mylar Covered Dust Jacket, Clean Tight Pages.

Ships from: Portland, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$3.50
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(187)

Condition: Like New
2001 Hard cover First edition. Fine in fine dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 192 p. Audience: General/trade.

Ships from: Gladewater, TX

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$3.50
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(7)

Condition: Good
2001 Hardcover Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Orland Park, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$4.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(1543)

Condition: Very Good
2001 Hardcover First Edition; First Printing Very Good in Very Good dust jacket 0060198354. Remainder mark on bottom; DJ has light edgewear.; 9.30 X 6.40 X 0.90 inches; 176 ... pages. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Syracuse, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$4.79
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(5)

Condition: Good
2001 Hardcover Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not ... include cdrom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Columbus, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.00
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(22)

Condition: Like New
8vo, 176 pp.

Ships from: Pittsford, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(457)

Condition: Like New
2001 Hardcover Fine Very Good jacket First Edition. First edition of author's debut short story collection. Dust jacket has some shelf wear, otherwise very nice!

Ships from: Corvallis, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.19
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(3)

Condition: Good
2001 Hardcover Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Dallas, TX

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(457)

Condition: Like New
2001 Hardcover Fine jacket First Edition. First edition. Fine copy in near fine dust jacket. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio ... program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Corvallis, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 2 of 4
Showing 11 – 20 of 36 (4 pages)
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in "The Vulgar Soul" or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, this extraordinary debut collection of stories never settles for easy sentiments or assurances. Though fluent in a variety of narrative voices, the volume is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Imposing neither a single style nor a repeated structure, Biguenet addresses a range of subjects that reach far beyond the failed relationships and unfulfilled lives that occupy so much fiction today. If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, though, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotline, sly in their humor.

About the Author:
John Biguenet writes fiction, poetry, and essays, which have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Story, DoubleTake, and Ploughshares, among others. He lives in New Orleans, LA.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like a trapeze artist who disdains the use of a net, Biguenet takes considerable risks in this impressive debut collection, which shows the influence of both American realism and European intellectual fiction. Building his stories around hard-to-like people a medieval torturer, a beautiful masochist, a man who decides to purchase a slave Biguenet examines the complex moral conundrums they face. In "The Vulgar Soul," a man named Tom Hogue begins to bleed for no apparent reason. He gradually realizes that his wounds are remarkably like stigmata, and he becomes an object of inspiration for religious seekers, though he himself remains unmoved by his condition. In "My Slave," a prospective slaveowner describes with chilling dispassion his desire to own another person. He soon finds that he understands little of the "complex mechanisms of discipline and punishment" required of slaveholders, and even less of their effect on his own psyche. The title story sketches the life of an itinerant torturer, paid to extract confessions in the small towns of medieval Europe. The torturer's life is surprisingly banal, involving the hassles of guild membership and the difficulty of transporting heavy torture devices over poor roads, but his existence takes an unforeseen turn when he engages a young, gentle apprentice. Biguenet is equally surefooted in more domestic territory. "Lunch with My Daughter" is all subtext and guarded emotions, as a man struggles with revealing his true identity to his daughter over lunch. In "The Open Curtain," a suburban salesman, burdened by routine, finds that he can take surprising pleasure in his own family. As skillful as they are ambitious, these uncompromising stories herald the arrival on the literary scene of a provocative new talent. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Biguenet's stories have appeared in Esquire, in literary magazines, and in the 1997, 1998, and 1999 editions of The Best American Short Stories, but this is his first collection. The classic style of the stunning title story recalls that of Par Lagerkvist's The Dwarf (1958). Guillem, the torturer, searches for an apprentice to learn his trade as well as to keep him company, a union ending in tragedy. In "A Work of Art," a young man obsessed with possessing a Degas sculpture sells everything he owns to buy it, only to find that the sculpture possesses him. In "The Vulgar Soul," an unbelieving "bleeder" is skeptical when he is diagnosed with the stigmata but achieves a skewered faith because of the reactions of others. "I Am Not a Jew," a cautionary tale, explores a man's unwilling self-examination after an encounter with Nazi skinheads in a Jewish cemetery. "Lunch with My Daughter" highlights a loving father's lunch with the 16-year-old daughter who knows him only as a family friend and confidant. Each story in this collection is narrated in elegant, unencumbered prose, concluding with a twist of fate or an ironic ending. An outstanding collection; for all public libraries. Mary Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Katherine Wolff
These stories, some of which have appeared in magazines like Granta, Esquire and Story, demonstrate a genuine artistry. Even the lightest one -- "Lunch With My Daughter,'' in which the narrator recounts a casual meal with the girl he secretly fathered -- vibrates with quiet sorrow. ...Biguenet's calm, lucid prose is consistently entrancing.... A set of marvelously eerie folk legends.
New York Times Book Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060198350
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

John Biguenet's fiction has appeared in such publications as Esquire, Granta, Playboy, Story, and Zoetrope. The winner of an 0. Henry Award for short fiction, he lives in New Orleans. Ecco published his debut collection of stories, The Torturer's Apprentice, in 2001. Oyster is his first novel.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



The Vulgar Soul



It began as a chafing, a patch of dry skin, in the palm of his left hand. He ignored it at first, though at odd moments he found himself absentmindedly rubbing the chapped flesh.

It persisted. After a week or so, he appealed to the pharmacist in the old-fashioned drugstore and soda fountain near his house. The druggist, a young man whose diploma on the wall behind him was as fresh and white as the medical frock he donned before counseling customers about their minor complaints, asked the man to extend the hand with the rash.

"It's not a rash, exactly," he said, opening his palm over the counter. "It's just sort of scaly."

"Well, Mr. Hogue--"

"Tom," the man interrupted.

"Well, Tom, I think we've got what you need." The pharmacist led him down an aisle of ointments. Reaching for a purple box, the druggist explained that a simple moisturizing lotion would probably suffice. "But," the young man added gravely, "if itching develops, we may have to consider a hydrocortisone cream."

Sitting in his car in front of the drugstore, Hogue unscrewed the top of the bottle and coaxed a dab of the lotion onto his hand. Massaging the raw flesh with the moisturizer, he saw deeper cracks in the skin than he had noticed before. He poured more lotion into his cupped palm.

That night, peeling off his socks as he dressed for bed, he thought his right foot seemed blistered. Damn new shoes, he told himself, though a sly doubt vaguely tormented himas he rubbed moisturizing lotion into his hand. He restrained himself from looking more closely at the blister.

Work preoccupied Hogue for the next few days. The lotion seemed to soothe his chafed hand. The blister, which had engorged itself, burst, and filled again, required some attention, though. He bandaged his foot to prevent infection and waited for his body to heal its own wounds. He smiled at his overblown worries and let them drift away down the broad boulevards of a busy life.

It was with the startled panic of one who suddenly remembers a forgotten obligation that he felt the dampness on the bottom of his sock when he had unlaced his shoe a few evenings later. Slipping the sock off his foot, he was shocked to see the bandage soaked with blood. He hopped into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub with his ankle resting on the other leg. Holding his breath, he gingerly peeled back the tape of the dressing. As the bandage came loose, he glanced at the sore and quickly looked away. Taking another breath, he bathed it in peroxide. He was surprised that he could find beneath the cotton ball with which he wiped the blood no open wound, only a deeply chapped bruise the size of a quarter.

By the time Hogue fell asleep hours later, he had convinced himself that there was really nothing all that strange in what had happened. Rushing from meeting to meeting that day, he had done more walking than usual, which must have opened the blister. Tomorrow was Saturday. He would try to keep off his feet over the weekend and give the sore a chance to heal.

Despite two days on the couch with a pillow beneath his foot, by Monday he was hobbled by a tenderness on the bottom of both feet. The blistering had spread to the other foot.

He was embarrassed by the expressions of concern offered by his colleagues as he limped to his office. Though he wore bandages, his gait was deformed by the ache of the two raw bruises on his feet. He tried to stay at his desk all day.

Driving home, he passed the drugstore but thought better of conferring with the young pharmacist when he imagined how ridiculous he would look, tottering on one leg as he laid a bare foot upon the counter. And what if it started to bleed? He often ran into his neighbors at the little store.

Hogue decided to wait. Except for the soreness, he was perfectly healthy. He felt sure nothing was wrong, or so he told himself.

The tenderness eased over the next few days, although there were a few incidents of bleeding. He began to use the moisturizing lotion on his feet. Religiously, he continued to apply the lotion to his hand, but while the dry skin did not worsen, neither did it improve. In fact, it was while rubbing his palms together with a dollop of lotion that he first felt the roughness on his right hand.

He was surprised to find himself almost resigned to his discovery, as if he had been waiting, unknowingly, for this last extremity to exhibit the chafing of the other three.

But there was nothing foreseen in the revelation he received as he undressed one night. Naked before a mirror, he saw a pink circle glowering at him just below his ribs. He watched in the mirror as his fingers inched over his body toward the chapped skin. His hand recoiled as it brushed the intensely painful spot. Suddenly blood began to ooze from it. Hogue lifted his hands to his face; each expressed, drop by drop, thin streams of blood. He did not have to look down to know that his feet were bleeding, too.

It seemed a contradiction to him even as he felt it, but a horror somehow calm and deliberate took hold of him. He held out his hands and watched himself in the mirror quietly bleeding. The terror that rose in him had matured so slowly over the last few weeks, had teased him so often with its acrid taste, that he felt no panic. But he did feel absolutely lost.

The next morning, Hogue convinced the nurse who answered the phone to schedule an immediate appointment with his doctor. He would have to hurry right over, she told...

The Torturer's Apprentice. Copyright © by John Biguenet. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in "The Vulgar Soul" or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, the stories of John Biguenet's debut collection, The Torturer's Apprentice, decline to settle for ready sentiments or easy assurances.

Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example, "My Slave" takes the perspective of the victimizer. In "The Open Curtain," a man achieves intimacy with his family only when he watches them dine as he sits in his car at the curb in front of his house. Menaced by a gang of skinheads in a Jewish cemetery, an American tourist in Germany placates the Neo-Nazis with a formula he continues to repeat even after he is safely back home in "I Am Not a Jew." And as for love, it makes demands, in such stories as "Do Me," that shake our very notions of what it means to love.

If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, though, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Shifting among voices and narrative strategies, Biguenet imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of "A Plague of Toads," the problem posed by a ghost in the nursery in "Fatherhood," and the ghastly discovery a grieving widower defends as "another kind of memory" in "Rose."

Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer's Apprentice addresses its subject with anauthority unusual in contemporary literature, as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted.

Questions for Discussion

  1. In such stories as "Rose," "Lunch with My Daughter," "Fatherhood," and "The Open Curtain," parenting is examined from a father's perspective. What do these stories add to the literature of family life?

  2. Religion is another theme explored in stories such as "The Vulgar Soul," "I Am Not a Jew," and "The Torturer's Apprentice." What questions do these stories raise about the role of religion in contemporary life?

  3. How do fantastic tales like "Gregory's Fate," "Fatherhood" or "A Battlefield in Moonlight" manage to address the reader just as seriously as the realist stories in The Torturer's Apprentice?

  4. The ghost stories in the collection, "Fatherhood," "And Never Come Up," and "Rose" all involve the ghosts of children. Do these young phantoms differ from the sort of spirits one expects to encounter in a traditional ghost story?

  5. What is the effect of mixing realist and fantastic stories in the same collection? Does it disorient the reader, or does it lead to insights not otherwise available?

  6. The characters depicted in Biguenet's stories pursue a wide range of occupations from slave owner to high school English teacher to medieval torturer to sailor. Do these occupations shape the characters in essential ways?

  7. "A Plague of Toads" and "And Never Come Up" are both, at least in part, about the nature of stories and storytelling. What questions about the experience of reading fiction are raised by these and other stories in the collection?

  8. All of the stories turn on moments of moral crisis. Did you find moral dilemmas in the stories that surprised you?

  9. How is the nature of love defined in such stories as "The Vulgar Soul," "The Work of Art," "Gregory's Fate," and "Do Me"?

  10. What is your favorite story in the book? Why?

About the Author:

John Biguenet, winner of an O. Henry Award for fiction, has published his stories in such journals as Esquire, Granta, Playboy, Story, and Zoetrope, as well as in various award anthologies. He is currently the Robert Hunter Distinguished Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Do me...

    As a big fan of short stories, I'm constantly looking for new books and "The Torturer's Apprentice" kept showing up wherever I looked. The book has a near perfect 4 1/2 out of 5 stars rating, so I decided to take the plunge.

    This is John Biguenet's first short story collection and he has since published a novel "Oyster", which I have not read.

    This collection has 14 short stories, my favorites were -

    "The Vulgar Soul" a man named Tom Hogue begins to bleed for no apparent reason. He gradually realizes that his wounds are remarkably like stigmata, and he becomes an object of inspiration for religious seekers, though he himself remains unmoved by his condition

    "I Am Not a Jew," a cautionary tale, explores a man's unwilling self-examination after an encounter with Nazi skinheads in a Jewish cemetery

    "A Plague of Toads" a man has proof that a town once existed as the capital of a country (unnamed), only to be overrun by a plague of toads and their toxic slime, the capital was then moved to another city, will anyone believe him

    "Gregory's Fate" Gregory can transfrom into other things, animals, but each time he does, it takes longer & longer to return to his "original" form

    "A Battlefield in Moonlight" the only survivor of a bloody battle wakes up among piles of dead men

    "Do Me" a man can't belive it when his girlfriend wants him to hit her when making love, he later is the one saying "again"

    "And Never Come Up" a father and son battle a near unstoppable force in a marsh near the Gulf when fishing, after thier boat runs out of gas

    For fans of short stories, you'll find alot of enjoyment here.

    Highly recommended!

    Enjoy~

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

    Posted June 11, 2006

    A Variety of Realisms

    In this collection, John Biguenet displays incredible range. His stories are set in medieval Europe and in modern (well, pre-Katrina) New Orleans. Some stories are realistic in the usual sense, others, such as the story of the man who miraculously transforms himself to please a woman, are touched with magical realism. And pyschological realism is always in play. This collection is a very special achievement.

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

    Posted July 31, 2004

    great book

    it's a very interesting book, has all the twists and turns that one would look for in a suspenseful read. the short stories are each very nicely written and i especially liked 'The Vulgar Soul'. Highly recommended

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

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)