Read Gates of Eden by Ethan Coen Online


A middle-aged man beheads his wife, then calmly explains how she drove him to it . . . A fat little mafioso is going to war--in the clean, well-mannered streets of Minneapolis . . . A Jewish boy watches with wonder the rise and fall of a Hebrew school rebel--and sees the sadness at the heart of his own family. . . . Welcome to the world of Ethan Coen, one half of the filmmA middle-aged man beheads his wife, then calmly explains how she drove him to it . . . A fat little mafioso is going to war--in the clean, well-mannered streets of Minneapolis . . . A Jewish boy watches with wonder the rise and fall of a Hebrew school rebel--and sees the sadness at the heart of his own family. . . . Welcome to the world of Ethan Coen, one half of the filmmaking team that has unleashed a visionary, brutal, and uproarious portrait of America in such screen classics as "Fargo" and "Raising Arizona." Now Ethan Coen translates that vision to the printed page--in fourteen keenly imagined, sharply etched short stories. Blending parody with pathos, making the heinous heartbreaking, Coen demonstrates his unique gift for stunningly inventive narrative, brutal irony, offbeat characters, and crackling dialogue, delivering everything you would expect from such an original imagination....

Title : Gates of Eden
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385334389
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Gates of Eden Reviews

  • Michael Fierce
    2018-12-19 03:19

    At first, I thought this book was too meh to give it one of my usual elaborate reviews but Dammit Janet I got caught up in it so here I go.I've been a big fan of the Coen brothers since I first saw The Evil Dead on VHS in the late 80's, having noticed that Joel Coen was a co-editor (& uncredited dialogue writer) for the film. That got me to look into every project every single person associated with The Evil Dead had done.I found VHS versions of the neo-noir film, Blood Simple, the slapstick knee-slapper, Crimewave (of which btw I hear is much better on acid O_O), and the cartoony southern-fried, Raising Arizona. I hooted out loud, cringed in delight & distress, and pumped my fist in the air throughout these films and then followed everything the Coen brothers had their hands in from there on out.After an obsessive phase of reading a slew of short stories by Joe R. Lansdale (a few of which were crime-related-southern-area'd stories with outrageous situations & dialoge and were similar enough in tone, if you follow me) and a weekend of re-watching Blood Simple and Fargo, I was stoked to find this new release edition of Ethan Coen's first published book of short stories.I had very high expectations for Gates of Eden and couldn't wait to delve into it as soon as I got home! Yikes! Is that Clive Owen turning into a Werebear on the cover!? And some chick wants to run her hand through that rug!? No!What I wanted was an XTRA LARGE COMBINATION PIZZA of over-the-top cheesey dialogue, red juicy pepperoni gore, a few loads of bulletsized sausage bits, a fair amount of cri$p greenback peppers, a tomato to-mahto cast of women, hammy characters, maybe some Canadian Bacon (out of town cops anyone?), a touch or more of blackmail pepper, a good dose of ugly oily characters with bad teeth and whose eyewincing, tear-inducing garlic & onion breath is enough to make you shudder, and of course, a good sprinkling of parmesan-flavored gangsters to top it off, all rounded up with a dirty crust of mob bosses. Did I miss any ingredients? Aw cheeze, I don't think so.What I got was one of those limp snack pizzas you take a chance on getting at 3:17 a.m. at the Yuckit 'n Chuckit gas station on your way back from THE CLUB you just tortured yourself all the way thru to the end coz you were just desperate enough to convince yourself that one of the last 2 remaining girls was ok enough to go home with only to realize that when & if you had've gotten her you woulda woke up next to her in the bright morning sun no longer with your beer goggles on.What I wantedWhat I gotI guess it's only fair to say that I think there were a couple of ok stories in the collection. Were they memorable? I don't know. I can't remember. But I'm going to take a stab and say they were probably, "It is an Ancient Mariner" and "Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland" and I think I remember a few laughs during "The Boys" but I can't be sure. One thing I am pretty sure about is that I know the audiobook is most likely a whole lot better, knowing that the voice acting was done by John Turturro, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Ben Stiller. But, that'd make anything better.

  • Tfitoby
    2019-01-03 20:02

    This will be quick. I was disappointed with this collection. I wanted The Big Lebowski or Blood Simple but I got a whole bunch of stories that had a distinct air of The Ladykillers and Raising Arizona about them.I guess that makes Joel the dark and brooding brother who's a hit with the ladies whilst Ethan stands to one side and cracks wise to hide his insecurities. That or he simply didn't want to write a bunch of noir stories, saving them for his films, instead writing compiling all the duds that couldn't be movies in to this book.They're not really duds, they are intriguing and he clearly has a talent when it comes to words but he failed to sustain my interest for 20 pages at a time and therefore he gets a big fat 2 star rating.

  • Mario Morenza
    2018-12-19 01:15

    Después de leer este libro de relatos, confirmo que Ethan Coen es tan buen cuentista como cineasta. Las puertas del Edén nos deja con ganas de leer más ficciones de Ethan Coen o de releer este volumen una y otra vez, una y otra vez, lleno de situaciones hilarantes, mafiosos, personajes al borde de un ataque de nervios, detectives poco astutos; cuentos con mucho humor negro y de esa sensibilidad a veces corrosiva, a veces reveladora, que nos hace mirar de una manera clara y aterradora nuestro tiempo.

  • John Wiswell
    2018-12-19 20:59

    This review references both the audio edition and the unabridged text edition.The Coen Brothers have long appeared masters of quirky American voices. Jewish, rednecks, hitmen, insurance salesmen, FBI officials - they've created a gaggle of characters. But there is the question of whether they're better directors than writers, and get lucky with so many talented casts. John Goodman and William H. Macy can make most dialogue work.Enter this collection of short stories by Ethan Coen. I was fortunate enough to get both the unabridged text and the abridged audio production, and happily compared how his prose read against how the actors performed.First, the performers. Good Lord, what talent. John Turturro delivers two stories with dynamic aplomb. John Goodman is hilarious as the oversexed interloper and gossip in "It Is an Ancient Mariner." Ben Stiller is wonderfully uncomfortable and regretful in "I Killed Phil Shapiro." Steve Buscemi is a top-shelf scumbag for "Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland," then turns around and becomes a farcical pulp detective for "A Fever in the Blood." These short stories could all be terrible and would still be worth listening to just for the voices the actors draw from them.I read the text first, to test my inner ear against the actors' external ones. "It Is an Ancient Mariner" was where it first kicked, and where Coen shows some of his boldest prose moves. It's written as a conversation with someone sitting down to a lunch counter, but we only ever hear the gossip's side. He pauses for imagined reactions that grow increasingly scene-breaking, including halfway through in assigning a name to the unknown chatter, destroying the illusion that we're talking to him. Yet the destruction isn't off-putting; it's funny. The whole story is brash in its games with how gossips speak, and how lurid the narrator will get. It soon results in pushing just how much you'd swallow for this conceit, rendering humor whether you decide it's ridiculous or continue to suspend your disbelief.That story is lurid, too. Coen compares sex with Marcia Ziegler to having your penis stuck in a paint mixer, and goes more absurd from there. In that sense, it's a microcosm for how the entire collection handles rough material. Coen is comfortable writing orgasms and murders in almost grotesquely silly fashions. He's also unafraid to write bigoted, homophobic characters who are so unrelentingly ignorant that some audience members will probably condemn the author. It's a shame if they do. In the eponymous "Gates of Eden," a sexist and self-indulgent detective enters getting lucky but exits soiling himself and with a butt covered in bee stings. In "Cosa Minapolidan" we see homophobia spun into a vengeful gang haggling over a corpse that may or may not have been gay when alive. Their problems, their morals, their toughness and their grit all exist in the same plane of ridicule.Detectives, gangsters and inmates color many of the stories as emerging from the pulp traditional, either parodying it or paying some scatological tributes. There are rarer stories that fixate on the profound, like "A Morty Story," about a boy being raised as a Jewish fundamentalist. His parents, religious instructors, orthodontist and teachers all seem to be wrangling him towards a cultural identity he doesn't understand, and that may no longer exist the way they think it does. The certain dragging people towards uncertainty might serve as the theme of the collection - if you include all the cases of unduly convinced people self-destructing or being reduced to silliness. It's a theme worth exploring, as are most of the stories within whichever version you decide to pick up.

  • Anna Alexander
    2019-01-07 20:26

    Many of us know Ethan Coen as one half of the Academy Award-winning Coen Brothers who wrote and directed such classics as Fargo and O Brother Where Out Thou? In Gates of Eden we meet a strange mix of characters that only someone who wrote The Big Lebowski could conjure.There’s Joe Carmody, an incompetent amateur boxer who takes a job as a private investigator and agrees to shoot pictures of the wife of a local thug to try to catch her in the act with another man. Joe learns the hard way that he is just as incompetent as a P.I. as he was a boxer. There’s Michael Simkin, the son of a rich Jewish family and class clown who defies the principal of his Hebrew school until he makes the wrong gesture at the right time during assembly. There’s Victor Strang, a fledgling private investigator ,who gets his ear bitten off in a vicious attack and tries to make sense of the world through a series of odd dreams. We’re immersed in family drama in the story The Boys about a man who is talked into going to The Crazy Horse Pageant in Vermillion, South Dakota by his two sons only to find the cooks at the local greasy spoon do not how to make omelets. My favorite story was Cosa Minapolidan. The de Louie mob decides to relocates to Minneapolis because the head boss thinks Minneapolis is Chippewa for New Naples. The gangsters find out the hard way that there’s not much action in Minneapolis so they have to make up their own. There are a couple of radio plays (complete with sound effects) thrown for variety and to mix things up. In Hector Berlioz, Private Investigator Coen puts in musical cues for suspense and as a transition between scenes. The running joke through the play is no one can pronounce his name:Woman: Mr. Greneen, there’s a Mr. Burly Ox to see you concerning –Berlioz: Berlioz. Eck-dor Berlioz.Woman: - a Mr. Egg Door Barley Oaks to see you regarding the Capostello Foundation.Coen writes the way his characters speak so it feels like you’re reading an audio book. In the story Destiny the incompetent boxer Joe Carmody is introduced to the local thug Benny Bendeck who bursts into the locker room yelling, “Ah, look, it’s Bagadonuts. Look at ya, ya f-ing Bagadonuts, you’re a f-ing Bagadnuts, f-ing look at ya!”I don’t normally seek out books of short stories because most books have a few good stories with the rest being filler. Gates of Eden is not one of those. Each story has a distinct voice with unique characters. Coen does not fall back on the same writing style and keeps the reader guessing at the start of each story. It’s a quick read and is perfect for a rainy or snowy Sunday afternoon when you don’t want to leave the house.

  • Ted Burke
    2018-12-18 02:22

    A lifetime of reading means a lot of cheap paperbacks with busted spines that one must eventually take to the used book store, the idea being to clear space in both one's apartment and in one's head. One is moving out and moving on, but not without a summation of sorts of a few plot convolutions and the writers who typed them. Ethan Coen likes to take the convolutions one has left at the curb and smash to bits with a heavy, wicked hammer. His collection of short fiction,"The Gates Of Eden", offers this collection of odd-lug short stories, collected from various magazines from where they've been published previously. Uneven, as with any collection, though there are some nice slices of dialogue, and some potent descriptive writing, but as a film maker, Coen's descriptions of things seem like film treatments at best, hurried and breathless, like the film pitches we witnessed in The Player, and our laughs are too dependent on our knowledge, even reference, of tired genre forms. But "Hector Berlioz, Private Investigator" is a Philip Marlow/ Sam Spade send up that results in some honest hoots, and 'Destiny" is a particularly vicious laugh at the boxing trade, with a Coenesque hero eating fists over and over as a direct result of his own miserably rationalized choices

  • Matthew
    2018-12-27 00:21

    Save some time and skip to "The Boys" and "It is an Ancient Mariner." The rest of these stories are marginal - I'd even describe them as needless filler. Despite the hyperbolic reviews plastered across the dust jacket, most of these stories are neither lyrical, nor darkly funny. Gratuitous and unrevealing (perhaps cardboard-ish?) - yes. I haven't read any of Coen's other work, but I appreciated the Big Lebowski, Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, etc. Comparitively speaking, the Gates of Eden is pointless and far less enjoyable.I was unable to detect any thematic element running through this collection save a common film noir aesthetic (feels dubious to call that a theme) with which Coen beats the reader repeatedly. Coen is a gifted writer, but I have to ask: How many shadowy private detectives, how many pugilistic greaseballs, how many gangland goons at fisticuffs can any single collection sustain before the device wears thin? Is it 2? Is it 5? Is it 1,000? What do they reveal about the nature of anything? What is Coen's fiction trying to tell us? Why should anyone read this book?I don't know.

  • Paul
    2019-01-06 22:13

    I bought this back in around 2000 but never got far through it until recently.It's a strange mixed bad of stories, some in the form of screenplays. Many of them are in the voice of a narrator, or are being spoken to you, or are composed largely of dialogue - and I think that's the strongest thing about them, creating interesting and unique voices. If you've seen any Coen brothers movies then the themes won't be unfamiliar - there's a lot of down-at-heel smalltime crooks and so on. However unlike the movies some of the stories don't go anywhere so unless you simply like wallowing in the atmosphere they create they can be harder to enjoy.Still they have their moments and if you have the right sense of humour they're amusing too.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-12-25 01:59

    Wow! what and audio production - all those actors-1. 'It is an Ancient Mariner'- John Goodman2. 'Cosa Minapolidan' - John Doctorow3. 'Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland?' - Steve Buschemi4. 'Destiny' - Matt Dillon5. 'The Old Country' - Liam Schreiber6. 'Gates of Eden' - William H Macey7. 'I killed Phil Shapiro' - Ben Stiller8. 'A Fever in the Blood - Steve Buschemi9. 'Uncle Morty's Story' - Liam Schreiber10. 'The Boys' - John Doctorow11. 'Redwing' - Ben somebody!

  • Akiva
    2018-12-24 02:13

    This was a solid collection of stories largely about incompetent gangsters and ludicrous jews or the occasional ludicrous incompetent gangster jew. The author is one of the Coen brothers, who have made some of my favorite films. It had much of the fun of a Coen brothers movie, but seemed to be lacking the variety, ambition, and artistry of their best stuff.

  • Eric Aiello
    2019-01-18 00:28

    Meh... I'll admit I didn't read all the stories... read most of the book, though. I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers' movies, but this collection fell very flat for me. I chuckled sometimes, but the laughs were forgettable. I want to give his poetry a shot, but otherwise I think I'll stick with their films.

  • Marc
    2018-12-30 20:11

    Fans of The Big Lebowski will recognize a few references in this collection of very short stories. One would be the motto of Herzl Camp - "If You Will It, It Is No Dream." Those Achievers on Goodreads ought to see how many they can uncover. There are at least three more that I can find.

  • Brent Legault
    2018-12-24 02:04

    Strange and funny and all over the map, the map that is impressed upon my reading bone, the bone that sits all akimbo astride my heart, my heart which pulsed in my thirsting throat throughout much of the book. Had it been a novel, I'd've wanted to marry it.

  • Victor Zajac
    2018-12-26 20:00

    I did not care for his writing. His book of poems is a little better. He should stick to the movies.

  • Julio Gagne
    2018-12-18 23:20

    Abysmal stuntwriting. Stick to screenplays, please

  • Joshua Weber
    2018-12-29 20:11

    Gates of Eden Is an interesting collection of vignettes by a cherished hero of of my cinephilic upbringing that left me mildly amused and more grateful it exists. It's not a question of whether Ethan Coen has an instinct for writing and a knack for witty, colloquial banter with gutter chatter among hoodlums and ne'er-do-well characters. At times however, Cohen does treat his material as solely the contents of the dialogue of a script that makes his stories seem lacking in their structure as a short-stories in self-contained worlds uniquely their own a frustrating experience as a reader. Personal favorites from the collection was "DESTINY", "A MORTY STORY" and "IT IS AN ANCIENT MARINER" which I believe are well worth your time if anything for its bluntness, style and delivery of storytelling in devices which I won't say too much on (would the spoil the fun). I see Cohen as an erudite, Princeton graduate who read Ludwig Wittgenstein (his senior thesis was on two perspectives of his later works) applying his ideas of language and the interplay it has on remolding our own realities through hard-boiled prose intriguing and intoxicating. The problem with reading work that feels intoxicating is you get black-outs you don't really remember or care to remember about. If your a fan of the body of work the Coen Brothers have made, subversion's of hardboiled prose by an intelligent filmmaker you'll enjoy your inebriated read-through. If your a fan of the actors in their films, the audiobook has the likes of John Goodman, John Turturro, and Steve Buscemi as a nice treat.

  • Lionel Berthoux
    2019-01-14 01:21

    Coen's ease with words (especially dialogues) is impressive, and his love for his fellow Americans, especially of the colorful variety, is contagious. The problem (at least to me) is that this book is an assembly of stories belonging to 3 categories. The first is what seems to be childhood and teenage memories from the Midwest Jewish community the Coens grew up in. These stories ("The boys", "A Morty story", "The old country", "I killed Phil Shapiro") are touching and intimate, and I would have loved to read a whole book of them. In the second category, I would put his most brilliant texts featuring small-time crooks, clueless mafiosi, 50's-type private eyes and various weirdos. These ones ("Destiny", "Cosa Minapolidan", "Have you ever been to electric Ladyland", "It is an ancient mariner"...) are imaginative and amusing to read, sometimes hilarious. But they are not enjoyable in the same way that his personal stories are - they don't hit the same region of the brains. And then there are 2 or 3 stories ("Hector Berlioz", "Johnnie Ga-Botz", "red wing") that are not fulfilling at any level. They felt unfinished; I read them and thought "oh... that is all?". Altogether, a pretty good read. I just wish he would have written even more stories and produced two books, one for his personal stuff, the other for his crazy-ass fictional characters.

  • Erin Britton
    2019-01-02 01:09

    Although, along with brother Joel, he is one half of the noted dynamic film-making duo, this is Ethan Coen's first foray into fiction writing and it is a truly excellent debut. A collection of short stories that are comic and chilling in equal measures, 'Gates of Eden' features the crazy characters, quirky dialogue and oddball violence that fans of the Coen's films will instantly recognise and love. The whole collection is a joy to read, with 'Hector Berlioz: Private Investigator' and 'Have You Ever Been To Electric Ladyland' being particularly strong tales.

  • Kathy
    2019-01-14 22:19

    A collection of stories that are what I would have expected from one of the Coen brothers: terse, unflinching, obscure and violent. Black humor, of course, and the characters often seem to get what was coming to them, due to stupidity, insensitivity, or lack of character. Surprisingly diverse styles, characters, settings; some were actually written as radio plays. All have some sort of mystery attached, but several are private eye stories with their own little twists.

  • Monica Spees
    2019-01-06 20:02

    This collection of stories is fantastic! I laughed, I felt uncomfortable, I laughed again, sometimes I pondered things. It was obviously the author's name that drew me in since I love Coen Brothers movies, and this book did not disappoint. I simply had fun reading these stories.

  • Chad Bearden
    2018-12-26 00:58

    I've been a fan of the Coen Brothers since that anonymous day long ago when I saw, for the first time, "Raising Arizona" on HBO. My sister and I would hunker down in the dingy carpet of my grandpa's living room and watch in gleeful horror at the grotesque weirdness of H.I. and Ed and the strange yodeling soundtrack and a satanic Randall "Tex" Cobb on his motorcycle and that horrific (yet sneakily comic) sequence where the muddy earth somehow gives birth to John Goodman and William Forsythe. Even at the age of ten, I was always greatly moved by the sad sad symbol of pathetic nihilism created by Nic Cage,When I was young, this wasn't a Coen Brothers movie; I wasn't paying attention to the great performances by Cage or Hunter; I wasn't being amused by the clever script from the Coens. The movie was like Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and hopes for World Peace: it was a strange world that totally existed despite being completely artificial. I was genuinly moved by the people in the T.V.: frightened, in a deep primal way, by Leonard Smalls, Lone Biker of the Apocalypse! Annoyed at the vapid emptiness of Dot and Glenn. Touched, almost to the point of tears, at the pitiful attempt to steal just a little sliver of happiness by two hopeless, yet persistent, losers.No Coen Brothers movie has ever gotten under my skin as "Raising Arizona" did. I've enjoyed most of thier films since then, but experience has equipped me with a clinical eye that sometimes gets in the way of that magical spark my ssiter and I felt back in 1987, when a great movie was something that washed over you like a flood rather than an event that you stood back and witnessed and admired.Okay, I think I was supposed to be reviewing a book. Oh yes. "Gates of Eden". So my problem with "Gates of Eden" isn't so much that it is a bad book. On the contrary. Ethan Coen puts together a pretty nifty, if slight, little collection of stories, most of which are soaked in the tenents of noir. There is, to the book's benefit, a nice touch of the Coen quirkiness, sadsack characters stumbling into thuggish situations where they are in over their heads. They're enjoyable.But ultimately, the spark is missing. When I picked the book up, it was not because I was itching to read some dark, oddball, noirish stories. It was because the Coen name was on the cover. That name carries with it a certain expectation: if not a life-changing experience that you can feel in the core of your soul, at least somethat that pops off the page (or screen) and leaves a distinct impression."Gates of Eden" is good. I couldn't have written any of these stories. But it doesn't necessarily pop, and the impression is slight. When it was over, it went in "THE PILE", which is my special name for the stack of volumes waiting to be taken back to HalfPrice Books. And just so you know, I collect books like that crazy woman who collects cats. When I grow attached to a book, I can't bare to part with it; I keep it forever. I couldn't find anything to get attached to, so "Gates of Eden" was sent away to find someone else's bookshelf to occupy.

  • Michael Martin
    2018-12-23 20:58

    Ethan Coen's book of short stories and "radio" scripts is one of the best collections of short fiction I have read, full of the cadence and wit of the very best Coen Brothers scripts. HIGHLY recommended.

  • Steven
    2018-12-21 22:27

    There’s a lot of variety among these stories. Some of them are quick, unpolished, and sketchy like “Johnnie Ga-Botz”, and others are near perfection like the title story “Gates of Eden”. All of them have the signature-Coen snappy dialogue, and lyrical refrains. I feel like there is more raw heart in some of these stories than is to be found in any of the Coen Brothers movies. There is a real earnestness in stories like “The Boys”, “A Morty Story”, “The Old Country”, and “I Killed Phil Shapiro”. One criticism I hear a lot about their movies is that they seem to look down on their characters, and find humor in their suffering, or that their characters are all stupid. I don’t agree with that. I think that issue is somewhat addressed in “A Morty Story”. The main character loves his Uncle Morty, but he is also irritated by him, and laughs at him behind his back. The main character tries to commiserate about it with his girlfriend, but she doesn’t share his perspective. She enjoys his Uncle’s company in an uncomplicated way. Those two perspectives cause a rift in their relationship. I could sympathize with that guy. I think it’s possible to love and be annoyed by and make fun of a person all at the same time. I think that’s what’s going on in all of the Coen Brothers movies. I think that story might have been reshaped a bit and turned into the Richard Kind character, Uncle Arthur, in A Serious Man. That movie had a lot of earnestness to it. There were a few other pieces in here that I think made their way into that movie too. I think the issues going on in “I Killed Phil Shapiro” and “The Boys” are some of the deepest things Ethan Coen has ever broached. There was a lot of humor all through this collection too. “A Fever in the Blood” was hilarious. Pretty great collection overall.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-30 19:14

    I don't mind a book of short stories where all the works share the same theme or tone, especially when that theme or tone is one of darkness, urban hopelessness, the mob, working class folks effected by common misery, etc. But it has to be well written, otherwise those things don't matter, and this book wasn't. The first two stories I felt lacked feeling, but weren't necessarily bad. The third (about an aspiring mobster who never quite makes it, Cosa Minapolidan) was even a little promising in its bleakness. And then...the superficial noir happens. I was confused at first, but I feel comfortable in saying that Hector Berlioz, Private Investigator was supposed to be making fun of itself. Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland just likes to hear itself talk. A Morty Story and A Fever in the Blood are barely stories. The Boys was similar to Cosa Minapolidan in it's common bleakness, I enjoyed it. And then I get stuck reading Johnnie Ga-Botz, a story that had a punchline that would have been chuckle worthy had it not taken 24 pages of annoying person by person dialogue to get to. I didn't even bother to finish I Killed Phil Shapiro. I don't feel like wasting anyone's time describing the last four, except to say that The Old Boys is fucking ridiculous and better not be taking itself seriously.I agree with what a lot of people have said, this book reads like character outlines for future movies, all with similar subject matter. It was a book, but just barely.

  • Josh
    2018-12-27 02:00

    If you're not sure what the Coen Bros. voice sounds like, it's all laid out in text—it's amazing how Coen-sy these stories are. And I guess that makes sense. It's not like these read like rejected movie ideas, these are bona fide short stories and pull off things only short stories can. A majority of them start with a shocking case of violence, and spend the rest of the story explaining them. I have absolutely nothing against violence in stories, but here there's a bit of a case of diminishing returns going on—the most extraneous case being in I Killed Phil Shapiro (a mostly personal story about going to a Jewish summer camp and other childhood memories) and probably Red Wing (a great story about a life-draining marriage that bookends with a silly murder. There are other ways to show people's breaking points when you've already done a husband-murder two stories back). But just because there's some repetition doesn't make it bad—it's more like Ethan Coen does something he's great at multiple times in a row. It's the small personal stories and moments (and wonderfully dark humor) throughout this collection make this well worth anyone's time.

  • Bill
    2018-12-24 00:15

    Reading these stories has made me think that Ethan is probably the real creative genius behind the Coen brothers, at least in terms of concepts and writing. The stories in this volume consistently delighted, and often amazed me. I laughed out loud again and again, sometimes so uncontrollably that I had to take a brief break from reading. Coen is an absolute genius at dialog, by the way. In fact several of the stories are essentially nothing but dialog, and it flows so freely and naturally that you begin to feel you are involved in or observing the conversation rather than reading it. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be It Is an Ancient Mariner, which also just happens to be one of the ones that is told completely in dialog, one-sided dialog in this case. Also high on my favorites list would be Hector Berlioz, Private Investigator and A Fever in the Blood, the climax of which made me actually shriek with horror and delight at the same time.I recommend this volume very highly, especially if you are a fan of the Coens' films. I am now looking forward to reading Almost an Evening, Ethan's collection of 3 short plays about hell.

  • Temperandrea
    2019-01-11 00:12

    «Come spesso capita anche nei grandi progetti della storia, il motivo per cui De Louie aveva scelto quel posto era di una inconsistenza sorprendente». Basterebbe questa frase ad esplicare la poetica di Ethan Coen, scrittore, poeta, autore teatrale e cinematografico. La citazione, tratta dal racconto Camorra minneapolitana, fa riferimento alla storia di Luigi Castellano, un camorrista emigrato a New York negli anni della Grande Guerra e trasferitosi poi a Minneapolis perché convinto che questo nome volesse dire “Nuova Napoli”. Con grande nostalgia della sua città natale, infatti, Joe De Louie – come poi prese a farsi chiamare – era mosso dal presupposto che Minneapolis ne fosse in un certo senso l’equivalente americano, «con i laghi a fare la parte del Golfo e altre analogie che senz’altro si sarebbero rivelate non appena vi si fosse trasferito». Partito col proposito di avviare attività criminose, De Louie, giunto nel Minnesota, non troverà altro che la desolazione più totale. La sonnolenta e innevata Minneapolis, insomma, si rivelerà ben lontana dalla sua cara Napoli.Leggi il resto della mia recensione qui:

  • melydia
    2019-01-13 22:23

    With this book, Ethan Coen proved himself a true wordsmith. His prose is witty, starkly realistic, and often beautiful. His plots, on the other hand, are quite lacking. This is more a matter of personal taste, but I prefer stories in which something actually happens. Too many of the stories merely stopped after assorted description, rather than providing an actual ending or at least a feeling of purpose to the story (often I was left thinking, "So why did he think that story was worth retelling?" or "Where was he going with that?"). I also got tired of feeling like I was hearing everything secondhand. Even the stories that were not in first person left me feeling like somebody was telling me the story, rather than truly experiencing the events or connecting at all with the characters. I'm glad I read this, but I think I'll stick to Coen films from now on.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-02 22:18

    As a fan of the Coen Brothers in general I didn't want to say it, but I wasn't impressed. This felt like a collection of the same story over and over, and pretty much all of them would work as short movies but not a one really latched on to me as a literary thing. It's clear that Coen has a huge love for the underdog, the grimy, the noir detective, the period piece, and so forth, and he tries them all and somehow they all sound the same. I know that when I shoot a photograph and look at it later I can see what I wanted it to be, and I'm positive that when he reads these stories he can see so much more than the words are putting on the page. I'd love to read these from within his mind, or see him (and his brother, why not) film a few. This will be a collection I loan out to interested parties and don't feel much concern about getting back.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-17 23:05

    A collection of fourteen short stories by the acclaimed director of Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and The Hudsucker Proxy among others. Many seem to deal, indirectly, with Coen's own life or how he perceived life around him as he grew up. The format on these stories change greatly from one to the next with some taking on a straight-forward storytelling format ("The Old Country", "I Killed Phil Shapiro", etc.), others taking on a 20s radio show/film noir feel ("Hector Berlioz, Private Investigator", "Johnnie Ga-Botz", and "The Old Boys"), and yet others assuming the form of a first-person, single-voice narrative ("Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland" and "It Is an Ancient Mariner"). The last two being my favorite of the bunch. All the stories are well-written and I look forward to the next book by Coen if he's planning one.