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From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner, a collection of interlaced tales of men and women as they face the mysteries and magic of the world On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizur From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner, a collection of interlaced tales of men and women as they face the mysteries and magic of the world On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizures, in which he is possessed by a second, perhaps better, version of himself. And in Regency London, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to face his most fearsome opponent, while a young mother seeks a miraculous cure for her ailing son. At times funny and irreverent, always moving and deeply urgent, these stories---among them a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize winner---cap a fifteen-year project. From the Nile's depths to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from volcano-racked islands to an asylum on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, these are tales of ecstasy, epiphany, and what the New York Times Magazine called the "struggle for survival...hand to hand, word to word," by "one of the finest prose stylists in American fiction."


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From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner, a collection of interlaced tales of men and women as they face the mysteries and magic of the world On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizur From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner, a collection of interlaced tales of men and women as they face the mysteries and magic of the world On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizures, in which he is possessed by a second, perhaps better, version of himself. And in Regency London, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to face his most fearsome opponent, while a young mother seeks a miraculous cure for her ailing son. At times funny and irreverent, always moving and deeply urgent, these stories---among them a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize winner---cap a fifteen-year project. From the Nile's depths to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from volcano-racked islands to an asylum on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, these are tales of ecstasy, epiphany, and what the New York Times Magazine called the "struggle for survival...hand to hand, word to word," by "one of the finest prose stylists in American fiction."

30 review for A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    It is almost unheard of me to award 5 stars to a short story collection, but Daniel Mason's marvellous 9 stories deserve every star, each a gem in my view, and so beautifully written. If, in these anxious times, you have been finding it hard to concentrate, then I would suggest that these stories are the perfect solution. Mason provides a breathtakingly disparate set of locations and immersive subject matter, managing to capture my attention, bewitch, surprise and satisfy. Without giving too muc It is almost unheard of me to award 5 stars to a short story collection, but Daniel Mason's marvellous 9 stories deserve every star, each a gem in my view, and so beautifully written. If, in these anxious times, you have been finding it hard to concentrate, then I would suggest that these stories are the perfect solution. Mason provides a breathtakingly disparate set of locations and immersive subject matter, managing to capture my attention, bewitch, surprise and satisfy. Without giving too much away, the stories include a balloonist, a 19th century bare knuckle fighter, a insect collector in search of a new species, a mother willing to do anything for her son amidst the dreaded smoky pollution of Victorian times, a doctor suffering from memory lapses where it appears a significantly better him emerges, a obsessive data collector and a immigrant willing to go to extreme lengths to prove just how super patriotic they are. If you are normally wary of reading short stories, I think it would be more than worthwhile to make an exception in this case, I don't think you will regret it. There is the offbeat, the challenging, much wit, humour, compassion, sensitivity, and the original and moving. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    “...he found himself marveling at this realization that he could live in the thoughts of another person, a realization that seemed no less a miracle than if somehow he’d been twinned.” “Tomorrow, will he capsize us upon a deserted isle? Or return us to the softness of our earthly beds? Or will he have us float forever through his inkwell, until the final page is written and the book is closed?” I’ve read two other books by this author. I loved “The Piano Tuner” but didn’t much care for “The Winter “...he found himself marveling at this realization that he could live in the thoughts of another person, a realization that seemed no less a miracle than if somehow he’d been twinned.” “Tomorrow, will he capsize us upon a deserted isle? Or return us to the softness of our earthly beds? Or will he have us float forever through his inkwell, until the final page is written and the book is closed?” I’ve read two other books by this author. I loved “The Piano Tuner” but didn’t much care for “The Winter Soldier”. Other than the fact that the writing in all three books is beautiful and elegant, this book of short stories didn’t have much in common with the novels. These stories often have a lighter touch - some whimsy and tenderness that is not in the novels. Each of these stories is different and I think the variety is one of the things that kept me interested, even though I am not a huge fan of short stories. Each of the protagonists in these stories has some sort of revelation or epiphany. There is some event that causes them to understand themselves, someone else or the universe just a little better. Among other characters, there’s a boxer outmatched by a Goliath, an obsessed naturalist, a balloonist who finds a truth in the sky, an immigrant finding his calling in Civil War re-enactments and a doctor meeting his better half. My least favorite was the title story, but even it wasn’t a dud. 4.5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    What to say about these stories! First of all, this collection is perhaps one of the most exciting that I’ve ever read. Each left me with a visceral reaction, not just an intellectual reaction of “well written” but a gut reaction of “wow”. While the collection is classified as fiction, the stories read as vignettes from real life, moving through history, capturing highlights of human moments on earth. Mason moves from the life of a 19th century boxer to ancient Egypt, to the jungles of Brazil to What to say about these stories! First of all, this collection is perhaps one of the most exciting that I’ve ever read. Each left me with a visceral reaction, not just an intellectual reaction of “well written” but a gut reaction of “wow”. While the collection is classified as fiction, the stories read as vignettes from real life, moving through history, capturing highlights of human moments on earth. Mason moves from the life of a 19th century boxer to ancient Egypt, to the jungles of Brazil to France in the time of ballooning in the early 19th century. There is a story set in the South Pacific during the pursuit of the “reality” of evolution using a non-fictional person as lead; another where a man, a doctor, feels his life being subsumed by another (? better) man. There are magical moments, hints of (or more obvious) madness, stark reality, or perhaps alternative reality. So much to read and feel. I am writing this just after finishing the book, with the impact still resonating. I also recommend reading the author’s afterword. It explains some things about his background that I did not know, which, I believe, are likely powerful influences on his work. It and the acknowledgments also explain the reality behind the titular final story. Very highly recommended. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This collection of short stories encompass moments in time for a variety of intriguing people within very different settings. Each one is of high quality and masterfully written, and should appeal to lovers of short stories and serve as a distraction from the troubled outside world. These tales contain themes of obsession, compulsive behaviour, wonder, doubts and fears, epiphany, and the search for knowledge, truth and understanding. The 9 short stories are about: a desperate mother whose son This collection of short stories encompass moments in time for a variety of intriguing people within very different settings. Each one is of high quality and masterfully written, and should appeal to lovers of short stories and serve as a distraction from the troubled outside world. These tales contain themes of obsession, compulsive behaviour, wonder, doubts and fears, epiphany, and the search for knowledge, truth and understanding. The 9 short stories are about: a desperate mother whose son is sickened by the heavy pollution in Victorian England, a muscular young bare-knuckle fighter, a doctor suffering from memory lapses during which his body is overtaken by a better version of himself, a female balloonist who believes she sees something during an ascent which angers the scientific community, a deranged data gatherer in an asylum, an immigrant participating in civil way enactments to prove his patriotic zeal, a ruler in ancient Egypt conducting bizarre human experiments, a solitary telegraph operator in the Brazilian jungle, and an insect collector in jungles of South Asia and South seas whose theories coincide with those of the more renowned Darwin. Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for this interesting and memorable ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Usually in a collection of short stories there are one or two that fall a little flat or which aren’t as engaging as the rest. Not so with this collection as each story offered something slightly different and had its own special appeal, whether that’s the immersive atmosphere of a period in time (such as in ‘Death of a Pugilist’) or a place (as in ‘The Ecstasy of Alfred Russell Wallace’), a quirky character (as in the Jekyll and Hyde-like ‘The Second Doctor Service’), unexpected touches of humo Usually in a collection of short stories there are one or two that fall a little flat or which aren’t as engaging as the rest. Not so with this collection as each story offered something slightly different and had its own special appeal, whether that’s the immersive atmosphere of a period in time (such as in ‘Death of a Pugilist’) or a place (as in ‘The Ecstasy of Alfred Russell Wallace’), a quirky character (as in the Jekyll and Hyde-like ‘The Second Doctor Service’), unexpected touches of humour (as in ‘The Miraculous Discovery of Psammetichus I’) or poignant moments (as in ‘For The Union Dead’). However, if I have to pick out a favourite it would be ‘The Line Agent Pascal’ which tells the story of the lonely existence of a telegraph operator stationed in the depths of the Amazon jungle. He maintains a connection with the outside world through the signals of his fellow operators up and down the line. Over the years, he comes to know them from small details such as requests for medication, instructions to their tailors or orders for favourite foods, until one day the absence of a message changes everything. As you read the stories, and especially as you read the strangely compelling and poignant final story, the subtle links between them and their recurring themes become clearer: the desire to explore, the search for understanding or knowledge, the urge to record for posterity. The book had me searching for more information about many of the characters featured, as a result of which I can safely say I know more about a Brazilian who made art from found objects than I could have possibly ever imagined. Tip: search online for some images of the work of Arthur Bispo do Rosário. As I was reading an uncorrected proof copy, I can’t share any quotations so you’ll just have to take my word for it that the book contains some superb writing. A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth is a tour de force of imagination and one of the most absorbing and satisfying short story collections I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gianna Lorandi

    I'm a lover of short stories, I enjoy to have just a glimpse of people lives. These lovely stories were really well written, immersive and captivating. All the voices reflected well their times and the author provided us with great variety, some are heartbreaking and some are very funny, some characters are fictional and some are not. Absolutely lovely read. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    This is a collection of nine short stories. Each one takes us into an episode in the life of an individual. In the first story, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to meet a fearsome opponent. Then Alfred Russel Wallace (not a fictional character) comes up with a theory of evolution that he wants to share with Charles Darwin. There is the story of man who takes part in American civil war re-enactments, the story of Psammetichus I (another non-fictional character) and his search for knowledge. A woma This is a collection of nine short stories. Each one takes us into an episode in the life of an individual. In the first story, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to meet a fearsome opponent. Then Alfred Russel Wallace (not a fictional character) comes up with a theory of evolution that he wants to share with Charles Darwin. There is the story of man who takes part in American civil war re-enactments, the story of Psammetichus I (another non-fictional character) and his search for knowledge. A woman seeks a cure for her son’s breathing difficulties, a doctor has episodes when he loses time and seems to be replaced by a better version of himself, a man lives in a remote cabin monitoring a communication line, a female aeronaut discovers something amazing in the sky. The story I mention last is the eighth story and it introduces a meta-fictional concept into the mix. I won’t explain what that is because the fun comes from putting things together. Especially when the ninth and final story unfolds based on another non-fictional character (whose influence on the book is credited in the acknowledgments). All the stories are beautifully written. Some of them might seem a bit incomplete, but that is, I think, part of their charm. They are snapshots of lives. Some catch your attention from the get-go and the opening story is a good example. Others seem to take longer but maybe hit harder. The story of the civil war re-enactments is in this category for me: as I was reading it it felt a bit light compared with the preceding stories, but then it pivots on a few sentences and becomes a very moving story. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I read this book in a single day. It is not a long book, so that is not beyond the realms of possibility even in normal life. Sometimes I find that I need to approach short story collections more slowly than that with gaps between the individual stories, but here it all seems to flow well and pull you along. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended. My thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC via NetGalley.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Each story in A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth is a masterpiece that vividly conveys a historical person's grappling with life's big questions. Each story transported me into a specific time and place. The characters are unforgettable. Mason's background as a physician and psychiatry inform these stories, each character grappling with challenges biological or mental. A reluctant pugilist, the product of the "cursed Gemini of Poverty and Fertility," dwells on the moral aspect of his trade. " Each story in A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth is a masterpiece that vividly conveys a historical person's grappling with life's big questions. Each story transported me into a specific time and place. The characters are unforgettable. Mason's background as a physician and psychiatry inform these stories, each character grappling with challenges biological or mental. A reluctant pugilist, the product of the "cursed Gemini of Poverty and Fertility," dwells on the moral aspect of his trade. "You boys go out and think you are fighting a boxer but really you're fighting the world," a philosophical man shares. Alfred Russel Wallace is driven to search for new species, imperiling his health, and independently developing a theory of evolution. I had read about his collection of birds in The Feather Thief by by Kirk Wallace Johnson. An immigrant demonstrates extreme patriotism, chagrined that he was unable to join the army and die for his adopted country. In the smoke-filled city of London, a mother desperately seeks a remedy for her son's asthma. A doctor's temporary lapses in memory appears to be caused by an alternate and more appealing personality. An agent of the telegraph line lives in isolation in the jungle, forming deep attachments to other agents along the line. This was one of my favorite stories. A female aeronaute investigates a dark line in the upper atmosphere. A mental patient is obsessed with collecting data--recording the history of the mundane--which he stitches onto cloth. The story is inspired by the art created by Bispo do Rosario. Voices instructed him to catalog all things on earth. His over 800 works of found art are now celebrated. I had read Daniel Mason's novel The Winter Soldier and the story stayed in my head, a sure sign of a well-written novel. Mason is the author of The Piano Tuner and A Far Country. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A lyrical exploration of life on earth A series of marvellous character studies, some being entirely fictional, while others are peopled by fictionalised historical characters. Up first is Bristolian stevedore and pugilist, whose story, 'Death of the Pugilist, or The Famous Battle of Jacob Burke and Blindman McGraw', is told in short ‘rounds’. Then we have naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace, in 'The Ecstasy of Alfred Russel Wallace', whose correspondence with Charles Darwin comes to an A lyrical exploration of life on earth A series of marvellous character studies, some being entirely fictional, while others are peopled by fictionalised historical characters. Up first is Bristolian stevedore and pugilist, whose story, 'Death of the Pugilist, or The Famous Battle of Jacob Burke and Blindman McGraw', is told in short ‘rounds’. Then we have naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace, in 'The Ecstasy of Alfred Russel Wallace', whose correspondence with Charles Darwin comes to an end after Wallace shares his theory on natural selection with the, now more famous, author of On the Origin of Species. Other characters include a mother seeking a cure for her ailing son, finds inspiration in the Wardian case ('On Growing Ferns and Other Plants in Glass Cases, in the Midst of the Smoke of London'), a curious pharaoh conducting callous experiments ('The Miraculous Discovery of Psammetichus'), a solitary French stationmaster in Brazil ('The Line Agent Pascal'), a female balloonist who makes an extraordinary discovery ('On the Cause of Winds and Waves, &c.'), and the title metafictional story in homage to schizophrenic Brazilian found objects artist Arthur Bispo do Rosário. Every story is captivating. Mason’s lyrical prose is breathtaking. He maintains the sense of wonder throughout. As a Bristolian lapsed plant taxonomist who loves beautiful, immersive writing, it was hard not to feel that Mason had written these stories just for me. I was enraptured from first to last. Sublime. My thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keith Currie

    Miraculous Discoveries This collection of short stories by the author of The Winter Soldier, Daniel Mason, is an absolute gem. There are nine stories, all in some way reflective of the effects of science and discovery on human life, all to some extent historical fiction based on real life events. The first in the collection, Death of the pugilist, is a no holds barred account of a famous bare knuckle boxing match in the early 1800s, full of brutality and violence, but pathos and sensitivity too. Miraculous Discoveries This collection of short stories by the author of The Winter Soldier, Daniel Mason, is an absolute gem. There are nine stories, all in some way reflective of the effects of science and discovery on human life, all to some extent historical fiction based on real life events. The first in the collection, Death of the pugilist, is a no holds barred account of a famous bare knuckle boxing match in the early 1800s, full of brutality and violence, but pathos and sensitivity too. The ecstasy of Alfred Russel Wallace, focuses on the life of a ‘bug-collector’ who wanders the world classifying insects and independently of Darwin (and to Darwin’s chagrin) proposes evolutionary theory before the publication of The Origin of Species. Some of the stories are very moving – I especially enjoyed On growing ferns and other plants in glass cases, which tells the story of how far a mother will go to try to save her asthmatic son from the pollution of Victorian London. The author has this story on his website and I recommend you read it there. You will want to read all the other stories afterwards! Other stories are extremely funny: The second Doctor Service and On the causes of Winds and Waves. The title story on the Brazilian artist Arthur Bispo Do Rosario is hugely inventive and provides an uplifting finish to the collection. This is bravura writing and quite the best collection of short stories I have read in years; there is not one which is not touched by brilliance.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fran Blake

    This writer's intelligence and artistry is extraordinary. Not only is this book beautifully written, the stories are wonderfully unusual. I expect to read these stories many times as well as anything this person writes. Wow!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob Twinem

    A registry of my passage upon the earth, the clue to the unravelling of this collection of short stories is held within the title. I found it somewhat difficult to comprehend this weird grouping of unrelated events and happenings. What is the connection between a sailor, a boxer, a balloonist, a linesman on a busy lonely railroad in South America? The final story and in particular the final image go some way to helping a confused reader make sense and arrive at some logical conclusions on the au A registry of my passage upon the earth, the clue to the unravelling of this collection of short stories is held within the title. I found it somewhat difficult to comprehend this weird grouping of unrelated events and happenings. What is the connection between a sailor, a boxer, a balloonist, a linesman on a busy lonely railroad in South America? The final story and in particular the final image go some way to helping a confused reader make sense and arrive at some logical conclusions on the authors intentions. Many thanks to netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review, on a difficult read, and that is what I have written.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ "Years later, I would often find that my memory of him conjured the unexpected image of driftwood, which, buffeted enough, grows grey and indistinct." Throughout this collection there is discovery of the natural world, heartfelt patriotism of an immigrant, a boy who grows up steel-fisted, a mother desperate to cure her son, a man with an obsessive need to record everything he sees during his “passage upon the earth” while for another it is the kn via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ "Years later, I would often find that my memory of him conjured the unexpected image of driftwood, which, buffeted enough, grows grey and indistinct." Throughout this collection there is discovery of the natural world, heartfelt patriotism of an immigrant, a boy who grows up steel-fisted, a mother desperate to cure her son, a man with an obsessive need to record everything he sees during his “passage upon the earth” while for another it is the knowledge, answers to the most pressing questions of humanity itself that he lives his life trying to uncover with strange experiments. There is the story of a woman who rides the wind communicating with her sister as she travels in an air balloon, a lonely telegraph line agent working his post deep in the jungles of Brazil and a country doctor seeking answers for his strange affliction. Of all the stories, I loved Uncle Teddy’s in For the Union of the Dead. While his passion for American patriotism and civil war reenactments are a thing to ponder, it is his devotion to his brother and his painful past that so moved me. This was a beautiful tale that I thought about long after I finished the collection. It broke my heart wondering what went through his mind time and again on the battlefield, laying there, still as stone. There is a selfless love that made my heart burst. The Ecstasy of Alfred Russel Wallace is a story about a man who is filled with a hunger for nature that ‘at times felt like lust’. His communication with Charles Darwin, a request, feels like fate. Reading about his expeditions and collection you join him in his fevered state. Anyone who loves nature can well envision the euphoria such surroundings invoke. Not even sickness can put an end to his wonderment at the struggle for survival of every living thing- be it plant, insect, or animal. His mind an active creature itself, he is a man possessed. The Miraculous Discovery of Psammetichus I is peculiar and at times creepy, how he takes children for his experiments to get to the bottom of bigger questions. A man who “cannot abide stupidity” is himself driven into a frenzy through a search for true knowledge during his rule of Egypt from 664 to 610. It was wildly fascinating, the strange ways men deal with life’s many mysteries. The title story is about a man born during the year of yellow fever, 1911 in Sergpipe, who as a boy of 14 hears the voice of God and the Virgin Mother. So begins a tale of either God’s servant or a madman who speaks to us from his room at an asylum. He shares with the reader his life exhibit, every vital recorded moment. It is exhausting in his mind and yet interesting. There are more tales within but these stood out the strongest. I think anyone who loves nature, history and tales of struggle can enjoy this book. It may sometimes feel like a school lesson to some readers but I enjoy learning and immersing myself in the minds of characters vastly different from myself. It is beautifully written with characters whose active minds drive themselves to strange places. It isn’t hard to relate to the mother in On Growing Ferns and Other Plants in Glass Cases, in the Midst of the Smoke of London– terrified of the darkness that would take her child. Desperate to stop the ‘attacks’ that the doctors of London have no cure for. None that work, anyway. It is also easy to comprehend why Céleste would wish to remain forever suspended in the mysteries above the earth and resent men who question her word, and offer up a solution, a male companion as witness to her journey in the tale of a woman who shucks the ordinary life of women, On the Cause of Winds and Waves,&c. Every character within leads a life with some sort of emotional high, based on circumstances or their own active mind, passions. An engaging, intelligently written read. Publication Date: May 5, 2020 Little, Brown and Company

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Daniel Mason is unfair. Having already established a successful medical practice as a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Stanford, he also is a talented writer. In this book of short stories, he writes in a throwback style reminiscent of O. Henry or Edgar Allen Poe. Some of the stories are really great, such as the Second Doctor Service, and others are merely good, but they are all unlike anything else you've read. Mason jars us with his anachronistic style but it is well-suited to these ta Daniel Mason is unfair. Having already established a successful medical practice as a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Stanford, he also is a talented writer. In this book of short stories, he writes in a throwback style reminiscent of O. Henry or Edgar Allen Poe. Some of the stories are really great, such as the Second Doctor Service, and others are merely good, but they are all unlike anything else you've read. Mason jars us with his anachronistic style but it is well-suited to these tales and their times.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: Stories Author: Daniel Mason Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication Date: May 5, 2020 Review Date: April 13, 2020 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review From the blurb: “"Nine tales of human endurance, accomplishment, and epiphany told with style and brio" (Kirkus) from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner. On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a disco Book Review: A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: Stories Author: Daniel Mason Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication Date: May 5, 2020 Review Date: April 13, 2020 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review From the blurb: “"Nine tales of human endurance, accomplishment, and epiphany told with style and brio" (Kirkus) from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Winter Soldier and The Piano Tuner. On a fateful flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever. A telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the middle of the Amazon. A doctor is beset by seizures, in which he is possessed by a second, perhaps better, version of himself. And in Regency London, a bare-knuckle fighter prepares to face his most fearsome opponent, while a young mother seeks a miraculous cure for her ailing son. At times funny and irreverent, always moving and deeply urgent, these stories -- among them a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize winner -- cap a fifteen-year project. From the Nile's depths to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from volcano-racked islands to an asylum on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, these are tales of ecstasy, epiphany, and what the New York Times Magazine called the "struggle for survival . . . hand to hand, word to word," by "one of the finest prose stylists in American fiction." How do I put this politely? I would never read this book again, under any condition. Maybe I’m losing my mind as I age, but I had not any idea what the book was about, if anything. The stories were dry descriptions. They reminded of Rachel Cusk’s writing. That very dry, intellectual, wordy description of things. No plot. Just descriptions. There are rave reviews; I think this just isn’t my kind of books. Which I was not able to ascertain, until Little, Brown had approved my request to read, and until I started reading. I was taken in by all the hype and looked forward to a good read. I do not recommend this book. Unless you like to read intellectual descriptions. If you don’t care about plot or character in your reading, you may enjoy this book. Thank you Little, Brown and Company for giving me a chance to look at this book. Good luck to Daniel Mason in his career. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #littlebrown #danielmason #aregistryofmypassageupontheearth

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily Jang

    These are not ordinary short stories. I've never read Mason's other writing, but I'm astounded by the range of his settings, characters, subjects, themes. That is not to say the stories are scattered, for they share a narrative of "let me change the way you see the world." There are twists in every story, yet even the most fantastical, supernatural elements are made believable in Mason's craft. Going through this book was like turning over a snow-globe... though you never quite know how the word These are not ordinary short stories. I've never read Mason's other writing, but I'm astounded by the range of his settings, characters, subjects, themes. That is not to say the stories are scattered, for they share a narrative of "let me change the way you see the world." There are twists in every story, yet even the most fantastical, supernatural elements are made believable in Mason's craft. Going through this book was like turning over a snow-globe... though you never quite know how the words are going to land, or what's going to happen next, the resolution is always just right: sometimes unsettling, sometimes vindicating, sometimes hanging... but always stimulating. Mason seems to go out of his way to make his narrators/characters unrelatable: there is a pharaoh, a balloonist, a telegrapher, a correspondent to Darwin, a fighter. There are the sick, ill, crazed (turns out Mason is a physician himself). They are singular voices I can't imagine finding anywhere else. I don't recommend this book in audiobook format unless you play it at 1.25x speed tops while focusing intently on listening: these are stories that demand that type of attention. In fact, after the title story wrapped up the collection, I felt the need to listen to it again immediately... no, I needed to listen to the entire book again. So I pressed replay.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    I loved Daniel Mason's THE PIANO TUNER, and his most recent novel, THE WINTER SOLDIER, was one of my top reads for 2018. His latest effort, the short story collection A REGISTRY OF MY PASSAGE UPON THE EARTH, has moments of brilliance and beauty, but is less compelling than his novels. Part of that may be that Mason's slow-paced, luminous prose is better suited to the immersive experience of the novel, but this collection of stories feels imbalanced and uneven. If there is a center, it seems not I loved Daniel Mason's THE PIANO TUNER, and his most recent novel, THE WINTER SOLDIER, was one of my top reads for 2018. His latest effort, the short story collection A REGISTRY OF MY PASSAGE UPON THE EARTH, has moments of brilliance and beauty, but is less compelling than his novels. Part of that may be that Mason's slow-paced, luminous prose is better suited to the immersive experience of the novel, but this collection of stories feels imbalanced and uneven. If there is a center, it seems not to hold. Perhaps a different ordering of the stories would have created a different mood and atmosphere (my choice would have been starting the collection with the haunting "For the Union Dead" rather than the more tense and violent "Death of the Pugilist"). I'll return to re=read several of the stories, but this is a collection I won't be revisiting as a whole and one which I am unlikely to recommend to others who haven't previously read Mason.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Homerun2

    Rating this book is an impossibility. It was, for me, a challenging and difficult book. The author is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, and the last story describes the thoughts and experiences of a schizophrenic man who is an actual historical figure. It may well be brilliant, but many times, to me, it was also obscure. The language is 19th century in cadence, and the stories vary widely in subject matter. In one a female hot air balloonist flies high enough to spot a rift in the universe b Rating this book is an impossibility. It was, for me, a challenging and difficult book. The author is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, and the last story describes the thoughts and experiences of a schizophrenic man who is an actual historical figure. It may well be brilliant, but many times, to me, it was also obscure. The language is 19th century in cadence, and the stories vary widely in subject matter. In one a female hot air balloonist flies high enough to spot a rift in the universe between earth and sky. In another, a young widow struggles to heal her son's lung difficulties that stem from London's coal smogged air. The writing is on a high level and each story describes a unique set of circumstances. I was left feeling that these were beyond my level of comprehension. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Zimmerman

    This collection of short stories is chock full of slices of life. Some last only a few days, some a few years, and others a lifetime, with the last story (the collection’s namesake) tying them all together. The stories were interesting enough but all took a bit to get into. The most notable aspect of them, perhaps, is the fact that they’re all slices of mostly real people’s lives, as in these individuals have places carved out for them in known history. The last story, though it’s supposed to be This collection of short stories is chock full of slices of life. Some last only a few days, some a few years, and others a lifetime, with the last story (the collection’s namesake) tying them all together. The stories were interesting enough but all took a bit to get into. The most notable aspect of them, perhaps, is the fact that they’re all slices of mostly real people’s lives, as in these individuals have places carved out for them in known history. The last story, though it’s supposed to be the most important or notable, was frustrating to read in its form. The form worked in theory and I could see what the author was going for. But my eyes glazed over and would jump paragraphs, causing me to have to double back a lot to untangle what I was reading. All in all, an interesting collection of stories but not one I’d necessarily choose for myself (or read again).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Daniel Mason is currently one of my favorite writers, and I hope he'll be writing for years to come. As in the two of his three novels that I've read, these stories brim with lovely prose and delicate examinations of human hearts and mind. A few veer into the realm of the fantastic, reminding me a bit of the writings of Steven Millhauser. The title story is based on a real person, in an asylum in Rio de Janeiro, who kept amazing catalogues and spurred the interest of Mason, a psychiatrist at Stan Daniel Mason is currently one of my favorite writers, and I hope he'll be writing for years to come. As in the two of his three novels that I've read, these stories brim with lovely prose and delicate examinations of human hearts and mind. A few veer into the realm of the fantastic, reminding me a bit of the writings of Steven Millhauser. The title story is based on a real person, in an asylum in Rio de Janeiro, who kept amazing catalogues and spurred the interest of Mason, a psychiatrist at Stanford. I found a story based on an Egyptian ruler mentioned by Herodotus, quite haunting, as was the story of a country doctor in the late 19th century, who finds himself being overtaken by another version of himself. And then there is the female balloonist, who encounters a rent in the heavens on a life-changing flight...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Violet

    I don't often read short stories - I often feel that they aren't satisfying enough and that a novel would be better at exploring the characters in depth - but this collection really made me change my mind. The short stories in this collection all work together; most take place in Victorian times (but not all) and the characters are all... trying to achieve something - explore, discover - or have their sense of self questioned (the war re-enactor, the Doctor Service possessed by a double). I foun I don't often read short stories - I often feel that they aren't satisfying enough and that a novel would be better at exploring the characters in depth - but this collection really made me change my mind. The short stories in this collection all work together; most take place in Victorian times (but not all) and the characters are all... trying to achieve something - explore, discover - or have their sense of self questioned (the war re-enactor, the Doctor Service possessed by a double). I found that despite the breviety of the short stories, you do get a sense of the character and feel a connection to them, and you feel empathy for them - and there is some magic even in the most mundane. The eponymous short story was actually my least favourite, but I will remember the other ones for a while - especially Agent Pascal in Argentina, and Uncle Teddy. (Free copy from NetGalley)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Burr

    The Author writes unique stories about nine different characters and the experience of each one as they attempt passage through this world with whatever situation or opportunity life has dealt to them. He quickly takes you into the depths of their life. And the reader will be transported to far away places and become entranced with the experiences of each tale. For some, the hardest to follow may be the man from the asylum. Although each story is fiction in nature, one could easily see how each The Author writes unique stories about nine different characters and the experience of each one as they attempt passage through this world with whatever situation or opportunity life has dealt to them. He quickly takes you into the depths of their life. And the reader will be transported to far away places and become entranced with the experiences of each tale. For some, the hardest to follow may be the man from the asylum. Although each story is fiction in nature, one could easily see how each could be a true story of a life passage for the variety of Mason's characters. The reader will be enthralled with each life event, and yearn to follow the mystery of how each life's passage unfolds.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Kahn

    I read the first few stories in this collection with great enthusiasm. I thought that they were very imaginative. But I found as the book wore on, there was a sameness to the approach to the narration. I don't know how to explain it, but Mason rights all the stories as if from a distance, with clinical detachment. This would work if it was used occasionally for effect, but when it's used in every story, it gets tiresome and the reader doesn't feel invested in the story or its outcome. The last t I read the first few stories in this collection with great enthusiasm. I thought that they were very imaginative. But I found as the book wore on, there was a sameness to the approach to the narration. I don't know how to explain it, but Mason rights all the stories as if from a distance, with clinical detachment. This would work if it was used occasionally for effect, but when it's used in every story, it gets tiresome and the reader doesn't feel invested in the story or its outcome. The last two stories really dragged, and I was glad to finish the book. Disappoint, because the concepts were strong, but the execution was sadly lacking.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I haven’t been able to read much besides fluff this year. I waited until the last moment, my library loan was set to lapse in 10 hours, before I decided to read the first story. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. These stories are not at all what I anticipated, in a good way. Most are melancholic, all are historical accounts of people searching for meaning, for answers, some with accompanying wonder, some not. But they’re all uniformly great. I also loved all the illustrations that accompanied I haven’t been able to read much besides fluff this year. I waited until the last moment, my library loan was set to lapse in 10 hours, before I decided to read the first story. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. These stories are not at all what I anticipated, in a good way. Most are melancholic, all are historical accounts of people searching for meaning, for answers, some with accompanying wonder, some not. But they’re all uniformly great. I also loved all the illustrations that accompanied the stories. Glad I read this.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I've never read anything exactly like A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth: Stories. Each and every story is imaginative and unique. The stories are unrelated except for underlying elements of nature and psychology. I'm still not sure quite what to make of them. To be honest, they are all a bit odd, but enjoyable. Disclosure: This was a Goodreads win for me. Many thanks to Little, Brown, and Company.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is a collection of stories from a variety of time periods and places. I ranked this collection a 2/5 because I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters and I felt that each story ended abruptly without a conclusion. Maybe that was intentional? I enjoyed reading, The Winter Soldier so I thought I would enjoy reading more from the same author

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Wright

    An interesting collection of short stories set in Victorian times, with a wide variety of protagonists. Some were surreal, like a woman taking a mysterious balloon ride, and some seemed very well researched, like the scientists who came up with the theory of evolution in parallel with Darwin. I enjoyed them all, and found them well written.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Pretz

    Amazing! Every story has so much emotion and left me wondering the meaning of life. Mason's stories manages to highlight many human emotions and the life experience in a creative, approachable way. The stories cover blind courage, paranoia, loneliness, indifference, admiration, mental illness, awe along with many others.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ebb

    A strong collection of stories. I thoroughly enjoyed most of them and would definitely be interested in reading more of Daniel Mason's works. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Terry Earley

    Requested 4-29-2020 overdrive audiobook

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