Stones for Ibarra

Stones for Ibarra

by Harriet Doerr


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140075625
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/15/1985
Series: Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 227,934
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.63(d)
Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Harriet Doerr (1910-2002) was born in Pasadena, California, and attended Smith College in 1927, but received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1977, where she was accepted into the Creative Writing Program. She was a Stegner Fellow, received the Transatlantic Review Henfield Foundation Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Doerr’s first novel, Stones for Ibarra, won the 1984 National Book Award for First Work of Fiction, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, the Godal Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Harold D. Vursell Award. Her second novel, Consider This, Señora, was a national bestseller. Doerr’s third and final book, The Tiger in the Grass, was a collection of stories and anecdotal pieces.

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Stones for Ibarra 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is on the list by Karl Bridges called "100 Great American Novels You've (Porbably) Never Read" and is the 11th novel on that list I've read I am very glad I found the list else I never would have known of the book. It is astoundingly well-written in luminous prose, as it tells of Richard and Sara Everton moving to Mexico to operate Richard's grandfather's abandoned mine. While it is sad I found myself tremendously moved by the climactic ending, wrenchingly portraying Sara's return to the house in Ibarra.
brenzi on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Harriet Doerr finished her degree from Stanford at the age of 67 and received The National Book Award for her novel ¿Stones for Ibarra¿ in 1984 at the age of 73; talk about your late bloomer. From what I can gather, she did everything very deliberately and with painstaking effort. It¿s said that when writing, she wrote little more than a sentence a day, meticulously crafting each sentence with the utmost care. And when reading her novel one can¿t help seeing the result of her precision. If you enjoy wallowing in the trough of graceful, poetic prose, have I got a book for you. Listed among other worthy novels on the ¿100 Great American Novels You¿ve (Probably) Never Read,¿ I first read and fell in love with this book twenty years ago and wanted to see how it held up. Not to worry; still spectacular.The book consists of several interconnected stories revolving around the lives of Sara and Richard Everton who have returned to Mexico in 1960 to restore his grandfather¿s copper mine, abandoned since the 1910 revolution. They plan to finish out their lives in the small Mexican village of Ibarra. Both are around forty but the author makes it clear that Richard has only a few more years to live as he is suffering from leukemia. ¿The Everton¿s left San Francisco and their house with a narrow view of the bay in order to extend the family¿s Mexican history and patch the present onto the past. To find out if there was still copper underground and how much of the rest of it was true, the width of the sky, the depth of stars, the air like new wine, the harsh noons and long, slow dusks. To weave chance and hope into a fabric that would clothe them as long as they lived.¿ (Page 3)The charm of this book is the interaction with the simple, both profoundly poor and yet prescient Mexican people, as they go about their daily lives. They are fatalists, for the most part and bravely accept the cards they¿ve been dealt while expressing deep faith in God and the belief in magic and the spiritual world. Their stories made me ache for them, so lacking were their lives. But they all maintained a fatalistic attitude that allowed them to quietly, bravely endure.¿The Everton¿s, as they walked past the church, saw the three beggars on the steps. They were counting their money and appeared content. They had not been so rich since this time last year. The coins that made their pockets sag would satisfy every requirement of the foreseeable future, if the cold let up, if they could patch their roof and their shoes. If the laurel leaf on the brow cured the headache and the string around the throat cured the cough. If they survived the night.¿ (Page 144)Front and center over all the stories is the indication that Richard will not live for much longer and the overwhelming sadness when he finally succumbs. The housekeeper, Lourdes, was in the habit of leaving things in hidden locations throughout the house; things that might bring on good luck in one way or another and in going through some boxes in preparation for leaving Ibarra, Sara finds the remnants of these good luck charms:¿Behind a recipe for oyster stew she found a twice-doubled piece of pink paper. `What is this?¿ she said aloud. The residual dust of dry leaves lay in its folds. Sara lifted one of the veined, scented skeletons. `Chamomile,¿ she said, and knew it was from Lourdes, knew it was meant to ensure impossible things, long life, a forgiving nature, faith.¿ (Page 205)In her short writing career, Doerr only produced two other books. I have read one of them ¿Consider This, Senora,¿ and found the writing to be just as spare and evocative as in her first book. How unfortunate for we readers that her talent wasn¿t unearthed earlier in her life, allowing her to become a prolific writer. As for me, I will continue rereading what she did produce since it is simply sublime.
bordercollie on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A marvelously-constructed novel in which individual unrelated stories of Mexican villagers delicately carry the over-arching story of the life and death of the American mine-owners; sparingly and beautifully written. American Book Award winner.
Periodista on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Beautiful. The linked stories accumulate--that is, they gather force. There are these finely wrought individual stories of village Mexicans--usually stories of death, loss, early death, unnecessary death, striving, hope, grinding poverty. But the undercurrent is the narrator's husband's death sentence due to leukemia. She never wants to discuss it with him, as if that will stave it off. Her husband's attitude is closer to that of the villagers: death is right around the corner.I don't find it so startling that a 70-something woman wrote these as her first book. Or that she was coaxed into it while completing a long-delayed B.A. What amazes me is that she didn't even keep diaries during her years in Mexico. Maybe she was writing letters?
katherinebarrus on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A dear friend gave me this book for Christmas and I am so glad. It is wonderfully told. Doerr evokes Mexico and its people in such a warm and touching way. Several ideas struck me as I read. First, that memories are like corks left out of bottles; they expand and no longer fit. Stones as a way to remember a person is a wonderful image. And the stories in each chapter are evocative and bittersweet and although each can be read as an isolated incident, Doerr weaves them together seamlessly. A great read!
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the first sentence, and intrigued to the very last word! This is an award-winning author opening doors and windows into the depths of American and Mexican lives and cultures.
cbiblioholic More than 1 year ago
This woman is truly an inspiration. Was she really 70 when she wrote her first novel? It makes you think that maybe no one should start writing until you have lived enough to have something profound to say. Anywho about the book. To quote a movie - "It is the perfect blend of sexy and cute". Who comes up with "They have not considered that memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit" Or "We have come to live among specters, Sara tells herself. They are not people, but silhouettes sketched on a backdrop to deceive us into thinking that the stage is crowded." Not that is that is wicked writing. Total literary orgy.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not as great as Doerr's other major work (Consider This, Senora) but it was very satisfying. The writing is exceptional and the characters are very vivid. Any comments that the book is a downer miss the point entirely, it's about taking on a new life and acts as a fable about the challenges we all meet. Doerr is a great storyteller and I only wish that she had written more novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A relentless succession of tragedies, grimly related.