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Had a Good Time

Selection

“Mother in the Trenches”

With a world full of foolishly dangerous men, what’s a mother to do? Like all the mothers of the world I am stuck with the barbarian Kaiser Wihelm, a man full of himself but as hollow as a soufflé, and that well-meaning fool of a schoolmaster, Woodrow Wilson—I have known men like this all my life, being around preachers and teachers and also around my father, rest his soul, who was himself a bit of both, men who are certain they grasp things that no man can grasp for certain—and Black Jack Pershing, another kind of man, like the one I married, a man with quick, sure hands, I’d wager, and a single-minded bond with other men under whatever flag it may be—American, for General Jack and my own Jack—and there’s nothing in the world to weaken that bond or soften these hands. My son is a man too, according to the Selective Service Act, but God help me if I’ll let him be a man yet without a fight.

This is something I know like any mother knows. The boy is not fully a man if I can remember so clearly lifting his wee body up and placing it on a rectangle of cotton clean from the boiling pot and warm from the sun and I swaddle him up and hold him against me and he is gentle and he is quiet and I carry him away, carry him through the world, and all the while he is taking in the things I know as his mother, as a woman, but cannot say, cannot even put into words except to hold him close and whisper softly to him that he is a good boy and I love him.

Reviews

“Butler inhabits these people with eerie emotional accuracy. He changes the narration to suit each character’s voice, and brings wide swaths of early-twentieth-century America to life with a few deft strokes… There is a great deal to admire in this collection—crisp writing, marvelous imagining, the discussion of large, existential questions that are as central to life now as they were a hundred years ago.”

The Boston Globe

“Butler extends his reach once again… From the spiky class-conscious sallies of an angry bellhop in ‘Hotel Touraine’ to the muted, anxious reflections of a middle-aged man sitting on the beach in ‘Sunday,’ he crafts strong individual voices whose cadences and rhythms reflect the world these characters live in.”

Newsday

“The strength and uniqueness of his narrative voice make these tales as equally pleasurable and potentially award-winning as A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.

Rocky Mountain News

“Only Butler could have crafted Had a Good Time… [The] characters and situations absolutely sing in your mind as you read. And the most amazing thing—no two narrators sound alike. It’s like reading short stories by a dozen different, immensely gifted authors.”

Fort Worth Morning Star

“All of the stories are short and such good company that we read them in an afternoon. What’s more, we had the feeling that Butler enjoyed them almost as much as we did.”

The Arizona Republic

“Butler has collected vintage postcards for ten years… and in his terrific new collection, he uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation. From their smudged, often enigmatic messages… evolve tales that capture the rugged promise of the brand-new twentieth century.”

The Tampa Tribune

“A collection of short stories that does nothing short of illuminating our humanity. A deeply moving book filled with emotionally gripping tales.”

Curled Up With a Good Book

“Butler’s imaginative re-animation of anonymous lives from the past is both entertaining and informative, an alternate history of forgotten souls.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Good Southern storyteller that he is, Butler sometimes writes with a comically absurd quality reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor.”

Oregon Live

“Picture postcards offer an unusually fertile vantage point from which to examine the traditions and complications of American life. In these terrific new stories, [Butler] uses his findings to inspire mesmerizing excursions into loss and affirmation.”

The Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News

“I would read a book like this by anyone, but Butler’s an amazing storyteller, so it’s even better.”

Cargo

“Butler is brilliant at shifting not only the fictional voices from story to story, but also each character’s disposition, attitudes and shapes of thought, fooling you into believing each one. The author has quite a bit of fun here, and his playfulness is infections.”

Bellingham Weekly (Washington)

“A thoughtful commentary on America at the dawn of a new century: while some Americans were buoyed by their confidence in technology and progress, others, at the mercy of a disease-ridden, hardscrabble existence, could trust only in their faith in God.”

Publisher’s Weekly

 

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