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Off The Mangrove Coast: Stories (2001)

Off the Mangrove Coast: Stories (2001)

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3.7 of 5 Votes: 2
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0553583190 (ISBN13: 9780553583199)

About book Off The Mangrove Coast: Stories (2001)

Such a range of stories and settings means Louis L’Amour likely has written a story for any and everyone. In this collection some of the stories are familiar to me although I don’t think I have specifically read any of his books before. Those people who have read or heard or seen films made from his stories are all likely to have shared them with others over the decades. As I say, he has written widely and prolifically.Partly why I chose this book at this time is to do with my own research into family history. My grandfather “Pop” was a great one for telling stories. He also advised my mother from an early age, and she often quoted him, “read everything.” She spoke of him reading the fine print on the bottom of the tram ticket on his way to our place for lunch!While I do read a lot, I think Pop would appreciate that no one is capable of reading “everything” anymore. So I am using a few criteria to help my selections based on my own questions and wish to strengthen particular perceptions while the world develops its own in many other directions as well. One such critierion is what my ancestors are likely to have read, rather than what scholars might suggest based on educational institutions or circles of people my ancestors are not likely to have mixed in.From this point of view there are a number of reasons why my Pop would have read Louis L’Amour:He came from a seafaring familyHe particularly liked a turn of phrase that would carry multiple meaningsHe liked reading people as much, if not more than, reading booksThe sound of language and the images conjured by good storytellers gave him techniques for telling his own stories.What I particularly like about this collection of tales is the use of seeming stereotypes to depict the individual character of people. Many people reacted against some of Pop’s jokes because they felt he was being prejudiced. My mother would often comment on their lack of humour to not be able to see past these images and their own prejudices to appreciate the intent of being able to laugh at how we each might look to others. It is a method of broad strokes and narrower ones – not everyone changes focus so readily.In the title story, for example, “Fools? We were that, but sometimes now when the fire is bright on the hearth and there’s rain against the windows and the roof (a setting many readers can feel themselves into), sometimes I think back and find myself tasting the wind again and getting the good old roll of the sea under me. (here is mesmerism at its best) In my mind’s eye, I can see the water breaking on the coral, and see Limey sitting forward, conning us through, and hear Smoke Bassett, the mulatto from Haiti, singing a song of his island in that deep, grand, melancholy bass of his.”Here the narrator is letting you know this whole story might be a con, just as the characters within it are befriending and keeping their distance at the same time. And the next paragraph:“Yes, it was long ago, but what else have we but memories? For all life is divided into two parts: anticipation and memory (as indeed his storytelling technique now is), and if we remember richly, we must have lived richly. Only sometimes I think of them, and wonder what would have happened if the story had been different if another hand than mine had written the ending?”The mastery of storytelling allows each reader to anticipate their own ability to tell a tale out of this one. And so my own instruction to read everything, to anticipate becoming a storyteller myself, and to enjoy a tale within itself, all intertwine with my own memories to be able to live as richly as if this story were indeed my own experience.Other stories in the collection may have a particular scene or phrasing that tugs at another reader. For me, the multi-layers of this story are exactly what I was looking for when I chose to read something my grandfather would have read. It brings me closer to the image that sometimes seems so faded in my own mind. It anticipates what I would like to be able to share with my own children about the conversion that is good storytelling, rather than just a conversation. It is almost impossible to think yourself out of your own story, but it is the attempt that invites others to enter it with you in the deepest possible way.

Nine stories that mostly left me cold and uncharacteristically disappointed. I actually admire L'Amour's ability to string words together to make a vivid experience for his readers. But this story collection was so formulaic that I remained mostly unimpressed. If you're starving for testosterone-saturated fiction where one story feels a lot like the last one, this book may do it for you. I'm as big a fan of the adventure short story as the next reader; so maybe it's just a case of reading the wrong story collection at the wrong time of my life, but while I won't give up on the author, I won't likely revisit this particular collection.

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While spending some time in our local library, I decided to try one of my husband's favorite authors. I chose a novel which turned out to be a good collection of short stories written by Louis L'Amour. He is a great author with a talent in writing action stories. He is well written, although his style and character development would appeal more to men. I liked all of the stories, but was disappointed with the treatment of the female characters. All of the female characters were damsels in distress (it is important to note that most of the stories were written in a different time). All in all, good stories that reminded me of how much I loved to write short stories of my own.
—Kate G

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