Godforsaken Idaho

Shawn Vestal

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Godforsaken Idaho

Godforsaken Idaho In this stunning novel Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife the rugged Northwest and the early days of Mormonism From The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death an absurd profound

  • Title: Godforsaken Idaho
  • Author: Shawn Vestal
  • ISBN: 9780544027763
  • Page: 135
  • Format: Paperback
  • In this stunning novel, Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism From The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death, an absurd, profound vision of a hellish heaven, to Winter Elders, in which missionaries calmly and relentlessly pursue a man who has left the fold, these nine stories illuminate the articlesIn this stunning novel, Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism From The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death, an absurd, profound vision of a hellish heaven, to Winter Elders, in which missionaries calmly and relentlessly pursue a man who has left the fold, these nine stories illuminate the articles of faith that make us human The concluding triptych tackles the legends and legacy of Mormonism head on, culminating in Diviner, a seriocomic portrait of the young Joseph Smith, back when he was not yet the founder of a religion but a man hired to find buried treasure Godforsaken Idaho is an indelible collection by the writer you need to read next Named an Outstanding 2013 Short Story Collection by The Story Prize, winner of the PEN Robert W Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, winner of the Pushcart Prize, shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

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    One thought on “Godforsaken Idaho

    1. Maciek on said:

      Godforsaken Idaho is tough to review for a simple reason - it left practically no impression on me after I read it. It is a collection of short stories, none of which stood out in any way, and none of which I would like to return to in the future. The main subject of the book is Mormonism - the author was raised Mormon, but left the faith as a young adult - and feature quirky ideas related to the faith: the opening story, The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death, features a perspective [...]

    2. Carys on said:

      Sadly, some reviewers seem to be rating this book on its depiction of Mormons and Mormonism and not on the quality of the writing and story-telling, which is a great shame. Mormons are people: some are mad, bad and lost, others are good-hearted, decent and stable - like any writer worth his salt, Vestal situates his characters at various points in the goodness/wickedness spectrum. I really enjoyed these bleak stories, they are well-crafted and evocative and I look forward to reading more of Vest [...]

    3. Patrick Lamb on said:

      The writer has thrown himself into that part of your mind that asks, am I really feeling what I should be, is this what life means, and who can guide me through this. I know this is not new territory for a novel or short stories but what I think makes this set of stories intriguing is the author's ability to draw you into the characters soul and then force you to decide how long you can stay there. The amount of darkness in some of the stories is quite unsettling but it's what prevents you from [...]

    4. Kent Winward on said:

      Vestal approaches the type of fiction that has long been sought for coming out of the Mormon culture -- a literary voice drawing on a distinctive culture. The Intermountain West has a long way to go before we approach anything like the Jewish community's successes of Roth, Bellow, Singer, Mailer, Malmud, etc. In the highest praise I have for the book it at least attempts to explore the conflicts of faith and experience from this regional and religious background. Vestal got quite a nice write up [...]

    5. Sarah on said:

      I rarely find a collection of short stories that are so consistent in quality and tone. Most of these deal with Mormons (well, ex-Mormons) in western U.S. in the 1980s, but even the ones that don't (Gulls, Diviner, and the amazing first one) fit the theme of sinners and mistake-makers finding their way.

    6. Liza Miller on said:

      Mitt Romney, DON’T READ THIS!Actually, Mitt and Ann and their 5 square-jawed sons could probably relate to some of the characters in “Godforsaken Idaho.” Lapsed Mormon Shawn Vestal’s unsettling and often harsh short story collection doesn’t so much tackle his former religion as it does refract it. He’s neither condemning nor condoning anything in its doctrine; he’s just writing what he knows, which in this case means deeply flawed, imperfect people trying to figure out life in rura [...]

    7. Kelli on said:

      The first few stories are not strong and I was reluctant to continue forward. However, it quickly became more interesting and I was glad that I kept at it. Vestal is talented at engrossing you into the characters he creates and their worlds. The stories are incredibly varied, though Mormonism is found in several. A solid collection of short stories!

    8. Karen Silvestri on said:

      This collection of short stories is powerful and engaging. Reading Vestal's work makes me think of all the stories swirling around me that are demanding to be written! Love it!

    9. Kris Dinnison on said:

      (Idaho) Vestal, a talented columnist for the Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington, centers his first collection of short stories around his Mormon upbringing. Vestal is no longer Mormon, and these stories are neither apologies for the Church of Latter Day Saints, nor condemnations of it. Even the story fictionalizing the story of church-founder Joseph Smiths early days as a treasure hunter humanize the larger than life figure rather than perpetuate the one-sided portrayals so commonly seen in [...]

    10. Sheri on said:

      I'm not generally a fan of short stories, finding them unsatisfying narratives. But this collection was dynamite. And Vestal's final story hits you like a freight train. Vestal is a Spokane journalist who writes for the Spokesman-Review. I've always found his columns well-done, but they mask his talent as a storyteller. Hope he goes on to publish more books.

    11. Kathryn Bashaar on said:

      I absolutely loved these stories. They are the kind of stories I aspire to write: readable and absorbing, richly layered with subtle meaning. Sometimes after you read a modern literary short story, you think to yourself: what the heck was that even ABOUT? And you never come to any conclusions, except that the author was showing off and trying to be as bizarre as possible. After reading some of these stories, I did pause a bit and think: Hmmmm, interesting, what did that mean? And a little ponder [...]

    12. Kasey Lawson on said:

      "Here's what I should have told him, and what I still, for various reasons, have not: Now that it's gone, your life is the only thing you have left. Ransack it, top to bottom. Plunder that fucker. Find whatever you can in there, because it's all there is."

    13. Cheri on said:

      This book is broken up into nine short stories:The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death - Apparently Vestal's idea of Heaven, or what amounts to a semi-potentially-amusing idea of Heaven. A cafeteria setting where you are served whatever dish from your life you can recall, and you're stuck at whatever age and health you arrive at Heaven's Gate with, arthritis? Still got it. About as Fast as This Car Will Go - Not funny, not amusing. Not worth reading (really, this entire book is not wo [...]

    14. Rob on said:

      When Mormons go bad should be the title of this book. There are Mormon themes, such as meeting all your ancestors in heavenly paradise -which is not so heavenly- or Mormon characters or what were once Mormons. Ok it is a very Mormon book.It is also a very geographic placed book in the lower Idaho/upper Utah. The universal themes are a bit narrow. Most of the main characters in this collection of short stories are various types of cynical shit heads who have lost there faith or do not understand [...]

    15. K on said:

      I really liked "Opposition In All Things," although I wish the very end had gone elsewhere; also, the choice of past tense narration fascinated me, considering. Funny and moving and an interesting, layered look at faith and its fallout. Some choices felt too extreme and not quite grounded in the characters or the stories (the story with the missionaries comes to mind), but in general, some great characters. Loved how it dealt with not just Mormonism in the now, but also the early days.

    16. Leonard on said:

      An excellent collection of short stories often with endings that are not just surprising but shocking. Many of these stories concern LDS families and culture. Often the main character is an unfortunate individual, barely making it who nevertheless has an appealing streak of humor or common sense. People and lives are in transition, trying to find hope in nearly hopeless situations. It's hard to put this book down.

    17. Marla on said:

      The writing is good. It reads like Flannery O'Connor. Vestal is a fine writer. But I can't say I'd recommend this book as enjoyable. I grew tired of the ball-scratching sex-obsessed masculine tone, and the stories, while imaginative, expertly paced, and even profound, were depressing. Is this the way men think? Is this the way Shawn Vestal thinks? If so, I don't want to know.

    18. Julie on said:

      Not just the best Mormon-themed, Mormon west-themed literary fiction I've ever read, but amazing stories in their own right, all set in the blank slate of Idaho (with the exception of one in a surreal Celestial Kingdom (!!!)). Strong, disturbing stories I'd wish I'd written.

    19. Hayden on said:

      Dark stories about Mormons and in one case, their afterlife, which is not what they imagined.

    20. Mariah on said:

      A couple pretty great stories, and all of it was memorable, but overall it was just too relentlessly dark and cynical for me.

    21. Connor on said:

      I never thought I would find an author from my town that I would love. Some great stories in here, definitely worth a read for Spokaneites.

    22. Felicity LuHill on said:

      An interesting collection of short stories. Almost all of the stories are about struggling with faith in some way. While the first six were the most enjoyable to read, the protagonists being on the sidelines/cusp of faith and religion, the last three were a little too entrenched in Mormonism for my taste, as the protagonists were explicitly Mormon struggling with their own personal identity.Vestal writes best when his fiction is speculative / magical realist. The best stories in the collection a [...]

    23. Ethan Hval on said:

      A fascinating collection. Written with style, humor and a sense of the darkness hidden behind the handsome smiling purveyors of faith. Well worth reading! Each story seems to inhabit its own universe and yet when taken together they form a connected tapestry filled with the bitterness of doubt and the triumph of our own humanity. Sometimes harsh, sometimes funny always entertaining. I certainly saw some of myself in these characters. You don't want to miss this one!

    24. Lynne Perednia on said:

      From a man who has been dead for hundreds of years, trying to capture whole days or moments that made him feel vibrantly alive, to the man who loses his only daughter to fast-talking, looking-in-his-hat Joseph Smith, the men in Shawn Vestal's Godforsaken Idaho both embody and rail against the two things that one of them says turn the world -- greed and vanity.The stories in Godforsaken Idaho, which this fall won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction, display an array of characters in [...]

    25. Mary I. Abdi on said:

      Quirky short stories. Not unlike movie/television's "Fargo", but rather than set in Minnesota/North Dakota, most stories take place in Mormon country-Utah, Wyoming, Idaho. Cheerfully off beat and with a large dose of darkness.

    26. Randy Johnson on said:

      It starts off high concept and challenging, but quickly becomes deadly dull. Abandoned after about 150 pages.

    27. Victoria on said:

      The writing and storytelling in this collection of short stories is phenomenal. I’ve recommended it to several friends who all enjoyed it immensely!

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