A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Robert Olen Butler s lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 Now Grove Press is proud to reissue this contemporary classic by one of America s most important living writers, in a new edition of A Good Scent from a StrangRobert Olen Butler s lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 Now Grove Press is proud to reissue this contemporary classic by one of America s most important living writers, in a new edition of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain that includes two subsequently published stories Salem and Missing that brilliantly complete the collection s narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Robert Olen Butler s lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer

  • Title: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
  • Author: Robert Olen Butler
  • ISBN: 9780802137982
  • Page: 439
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain”

    1. Even as the light purple hues of dusk shifted into night, I sat still, completing this book. Never mind that the only reading light I had was the dim glare of outdoor lighting because by then, I was transfixed. I had been transported to another world and I only realized this once those gigantic Southern bugs started to land on my page and I heard the faint whimper of my dog as she stared at me through the sliding glass doors—probably wondering what in the world I was doing sitting outdoors wit [...]

    2. Robert Olen Butler served in Vietnam 1969 to 1971 - first as a counter-intelligence agent, and then as a translator. In an interview he remembers the time he spent in the country:The army got me coming out of the University of Iowa, but they sent me to language school for a year before I went over. I spoke fluently from my first day there. And then I did work in intelligence for five months out in the countryside. I loved Vietnam and I loved the culture and I loved the people, I mean instantly. [...]

    3. Exemplary short story collection! Have not been moved this way since Jhumpa Lahiri's (also Pulitzer-winning) "Interpreter of Maladies." CANNOT POSSIBLY be MISSED by any serious student of the Short Story or modern American literature. A late night top-notch scotch

    4. I think white people need to stop telling non-white peoples' stories. It just reeks of uncomfortable colonialism. The short story where Butler writes his character as a cheap, two-bit Vietnamese hooker with the awkward stereotypical English one might expect from a recent war victim is just too pathetic for me to swallow. Some nice sentences here and there, but generally a flop.

    5. First let me say, “Damn you Robert Olen Butler. Damn you to hell.” Because now any book I pick up next can only pale by comparison to this exquisitely beautiful story collection. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain is a Pulitzer-winning compilation of stories primarily about the Vietnamese diaspora, with the majority of the stories written from the perspective of immigrants living in and around New Orleans.I am at a loss to adequately describe the poignance of Butler’s prose in this colle [...]

    6. a white guy writing vietnamese stories in choppy language as if it were written by a non-english speaker. nobody thinks in language this choppy, and though ESL speakers might not speak as eloquently in English, it doesn't mean their thoughts are disorganized and choppy. it was also just boring and it felt like a chore to read. i quit part way through.

    7. So, I didn't realize this was a book of short stories until I started it. I knew it was a Pulitzer Price winner and that was enough to make me grab it. Short stories are not my favorites (I prefer a long book in which I can wallow) and sort of automatically come with a max of 4 stars. In general it was an okay collection and I learned a bit about Vietnamese culture, but the stories were not sufficiently different or interesting enough to garner 4 stars.The stories are all about Vietnamese immigr [...]

    8. I feel bad giving this book only one star since it won the Pulitzer, but I did not like this book at all. It's a collection of short stories about Vietnamese immigrants in America. The dust jacket promised "lyrical" but delivered "short and choppy" instead. The stories could be revealing about the Vietnamese immigrant's experience in America, but the writing style is off-putting and frankly, doesn't make much sense to me. Even if the stories are from a Vietnamese person's point of view, and even [...]

    9. There's a reason this won the Pulitzer. While a few of the stories read more like retellings of myths, they are still so unique and melodic that I give this a 5. One of my favorite story collections.

    10. Back in my book selling days, Robert Olen Butler's Tabloid Dreams was, shortly after it came out, THE book all the cool kids working in bookstores were recommending to anyone who cared for a recommendation from a kid in a bookstore. I got caught up in the Tabloid Dreams hysteria that gripped my circle of co-workers for three weeks back in 1996, forcing countless unsuspecting Calgarians to buy the collection of short stories. What's that Ma'am? You like Maeve Binchy? Why then you will adore Tablo [...]

    11. Even though this wasn't a pool read (book to read by the pool that doesn't matter if it gets wet and easy to pick up and get back in the groove after days away), it could have been, up til the last story. The first 13 stories were like potato chips and I couldn't gobble them down fast enough. I checked this out after my husband read/bought it. I tend to dismiss Vietnam War books--too depressing, violent, mucho macho military men figures, and I'm getting a little burned out from WWII novels latel [...]

    12. In THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O'Brien he has a short story about the young enemy soldier that he killed by throwing a hand grenade at him. In Olen Butler's A GOOD SCENT FROM A STRANGE MOUNTAIN, there is "Salem" the short story of a Vietnamese soldier that keeps a pack of Salem cigarettes that he recovered from a dead American soldier that he had killed. He is troubled because the government wants him to return all of the items that could be used to identify the dead Americans. Ho Chi Minh sm [...]

    13. I forgot that I finished this finally. I didn't throw it, but I definitely didn't like it very much. I think that writers CAN write from other points of view (just like readers can read and understand different points of view than their own) but all but one narrator rang false; what I heard behind the "Vietnamese" voice was always a white guy, probably from the midwest, who maybe went to Vietnam for a while. I can hear him working on it. Oddly, the story that had the strongest and most-likely-to [...]

    14. I’m really torn over whether this book deserved a Pulitzer for several reasons. First, several of these stories are stunning and do what great short stories do. They set you up and spin you through a slice of life at a discombobulating pace then leave you pinned at some unanticipated place. Like playing pin the tail on the donkey. However, I found one or two to be good, but not great. Thus four stars….(the expectations are high for a Pulitzer Prize winner.)The stories were interesting and fu [...]

    15. This is an absolutely amazing collection of stories about the Vietnamese experience in the 20-year-aftermath (at the time this collection was published) of the Vietnam war. While most of the stories center around families who have resettled and rebuilt their lives in the United States after the war, there are also incredibly powerful stories from other perspectives--including the final, haunting story of an ex-American soldier, supposedly "MIA" for nearly twenty years, who has actually been buil [...]

    16. Robert Olen Butler inhabits his POV characters so masterfully that there are no weak stories in this collection. Indeed, each of these stories is another example of how to structure and present a short story. The progression of point-of-view characters, from hookers and strippers to Americanized middle-class Vietnamese immigrants in Louisiana to the white American deserter assimilated in a rural Vietnamese village, works well together and immerses us in a reading experience that exceeds the sum [...]

    17. So, I actually really liked a lot of these stories, but this book bothered me because all the stories are narrated by Vietnamese or Vietnamese Americans and the author is white. I mean, no one should be confined to only write from the perspective of their race/gender, but I can't really get over this one. I've read other books that do the same thing and haven't though twice about it (although maybe I should have thought twice), but this collection of stories is particularly troubling to me.I've [...]

    18. I bought and read this book when it first came out, back in '92, inspired to find it after hearing a radio commentary. At the time, I had just returned from a life-changing stay in Taiwan and was fascinated by all things Asian. Thought of it again this week while reading The Unwanted.This is a collection of stories told from the points of view of various Vietnamese expatriates at various stages in the process of becoming assimilated into American culture. The author has a remarkable ability to s [...]

    19. This is a unique short story anthology, as all the characters are connected, however tangentially, to the Vietnamese expatriate community near New Orleans. Most of these stories are good, and some of them are very good. There were only a couple bad apples, and even those were bearable. Dramatic, surprising, funny, they run the gamut.I had the sense throughout that Butler knew these characters and their culture very well. The amount of detail and specificity seemed to come from someone who had kn [...]

    20. This collection of short stories, of the Vietnamese affected by the war, is probably the best collection of short stories I have ever read. Most of the stories are about immigrants from Vietnam who have ended up in Louisiana. Some are set in Vietnam. All are beautiful.Not all is sweetness and light, but the reader is shown the heart of the characters. There is darkness and some of the stories are disturbing, but all ring true. This 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction felt so intimate to me th [...]

    21. Like all on this site, I'm a voracious reader. In my lifetime I've read thousands of books, including many of the great classics of literature. This book is my absolute favorite book of all time. The first time I read this book, I did it in a sitting. And then I proceeded to read it twice more in a 48 hour span. The prose is first-rate, with imageries that jump off the page. Butler weaves themes and phrases from one part of a story throughout the rest of the story to perfection. This book makes [...]

    22. Masterful and enriching. I think all writers should work to write or at least think from the POV of the other in their fiction or memoir. Not necessarily anything as reachy as Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which I didn't think quite came off, or say, refugees if you know none, but simply others you know or can't quite grasp. Butler is a Vietnam veteran, and here he writes from the POV of Vietnamese refugees, most of whom were from the Republic of Vietnam, some having fought for tha [...]

    23. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. It is a collection on short stories similar to Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies which is currently on my Top 5 Pulitzer Prize bookshelf. The stories in this book are not as engaging and the characters not as interesting. I give A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain 3 stars.

    24. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 'A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain', is a remarkable collection of short stories by Robert Olen Butler. The stories are in the voices of people from Vietnam who in the aftermath of the carnage wreaked by the infamous Vietnam War, find solace in the vast expanse of America. The fictitious narrative even though emanating from New Orleans and Louisiana still echoes the perspectives of distant Saigon, and Hanoi. Deep, introspective and vibrant each of the [...]

    25. I have found that I love short stories, and so I picked this book up as it seemed very promising. The Pulitzer plus the insight into Vietnamese culture that I expected it to provide, and the book did deliver. The book contains short stories, mainly about characters who have migrated to the US after the Vietnamese war and talks about their problems of assimilation, their own culture and its contrast with the American culture and so much more. The best thing I found about this book was that the au [...]

    26. This collection has a couple good stories. But as a Vietnamese American, I feel that Robert Olen Butler has taken away something from the Vietnamese people. He has used our culture, our history, our country, and its people and appropriated it for his own benefit. This collection of stories, told from a Vietnamese perspective, won the Pulitzer Prize and has won Butler acclaim. But there are great Vietnamese writers out there, writing about life during the war and after, that are hardly published, [...]

    27. This is more a collection of voices than of stories. Compelling, thoughtful, well-meaning, sometimes wise voices, trying to make sense out of life, humanity, nationalism, being Vietnamese, being old, living with war, and trying to love through all the complexities of being human. I didn't read the book. By happy accident I listened to it. I'd sure recommend the experience. Hearing this collection of voices made the journeys they described and their earnest attempts to understand themselves and t [...]

    28. This was my book club's selection for the month, and - to be honest - I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of reading it. I don't have much of an interest in short story collections or the Vietnam War, so this anthology didn't hold much appeal.However.The reason I joined the club is to experience new and varied reads, and this book didn't disappoint in those categories. I found that I really enjoyed the short story format - it was easy to read a story or two during a sitting and not worry a [...]

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