Read Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories by Jim Shepard Online

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I’ve been a problem baby, a lousy son, a distant brother, an off-putting neighbor, a piss-poor student, a worrisome seatmate, an unreliable employee, a bewildering lover, a frustrating confidante and a crappy husband. Among the things I do pretty well at this point I’d have to list darts, re-closing Stay-Fresh boxes, and staying out of the way. This is the self-eulogy offeI’ve been a problem baby, a lousy son, a distant brother, an off-putting neighbor, a piss-poor student, a worrisome seatmate, an unreliable employee, a bewildering lover, a frustrating confidante and a crappy husband. Among the things I do pretty well at this point I’d have to list darts, re-closing Stay-Fresh boxes, and staying out of the way. This is the self-eulogy offered early on by the unwilling hero of the opening story in this collection, a dazzling array of work in short fiction from a master of the form. The stories in Love and Hydrogen—familiar to readers from publications ranging from McSweeney’s to The New Yorker to Harper’s to Tin House—encompass in theme and compassion what an ordinary writer would seem to need several lifetimes to imagine.A frustrated wife makes use of an enterprising illegal-gun salesman to hold her husband hostage; two hapless adult-education students botch their attempts at rudimentary piano but succeed in a halting, awkward romance; a fascinated and murderous Creature welcomes the first human visitors to his Black Lagoon; and in the title story, the stupefyingly huge airship Hindenburg flies to its doom, representing in 1937 mankind's greatest yearning as well as its titanic failure. Generous in scope and astonishing in ambition, Shepard’s voice never falters; the virtuosity of Love and Hydrogen cements his reputation as, in the words of Rick Bass, “a passionate writer with a razor-sharp wit and an elephantine heart”—in short, one of the most powerful talents at work today....

Title : Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400033492
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 340 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories Reviews

  • Brian
    2018-12-06 08:31

    I find myself constantly coming back to this collection of stories. When I am in a reading rut, it is there. When I am in a writing rut, it beckons from the shelf. When I have a friend that challenges me on my choice of short fiction as a favorite genre, I will have him/her read "Krakatau." Yes, I am unfair about my love for his short fiction, but if one must have faith in the written word, isn't it only reasonable to follow the good Shepard?

  • mike
    2018-11-24 07:34

    Glut Your Soul On My Accursed Ugliness: my new favorite story and new favorite title and a phrase I want to work into a conversation at some point. I'd give this book five stars if all the stories were as good as this one. Some are: "Spending the Night with the Poor," "The Mortality of Parents," "John Ashcroft: More Important Things Than Me," "Krakatau" and "Piano Starts Here" for example. Some aren't. Still, a good find.

  • D.T. Griffith
    2018-11-28 04:40

    Jim Shepard’s collection of stories is a unique mix of heavily flawed characters, dysfunctional families, early twentieth century military and engineering feats, classic horror movies, and dark humor. His stories take unconventional approaches to a variety of taboo and uncomfortable subjects, of which I am focusing on the stories portraying the protagonists or cast of characters near death.A self-deprecating husband tells the first story in the collection, “The Gun Lobby,” in the present tense as his gun-crazy wife holds him hostage during a standoff with law enforcement. The scene is a catalyst for the protagonist to reflect on his marriage and his personal failures with a strange sense of calm and humor, in which they can watch themselves on the local news shortly before meeting their probable demise:“Here” is Waterbury, Connecticut, which is right now the main show in terms of the cutaway news, because of the standoff. You can see Stephanie or me, the Hostage, at the windows every so often on TV. We watch ourselves. (Kindle Loc. 89-91)I’ve been a problem baby, a lousy son, a distant brother, an off-putting neighbor, a piss-poor student, a worrisome seatmate, an unreliable employee, a bewildering lover, a frustrating confidant, and a crappy husband. Among the things I do pretty well at this point I’d have to list darts, reclosing Stay-Fresh boxes, and staying out of the way.   (Kindle Loc. 147-150)As the story reaches its climax, the seriousness of the situation is down played with lighthearted metaphors and observational wisdom:I have a hold of Stephanie’s ankle. For the longest time I’m not hurt. Her rate of fire is spectacular. The ordnance coming back at us sets everything in the kitchen into electric life. Our overhead fixture’s doing a tarantella. (Kindle Loc. 228-229)There are events in which every second can be taken out of line, examined this way and that, and then allowed to move along. This is one of them. (Kindle Loc. 230-231)The title story “Love and Hydrogen,” set in the Hindenburg over the last few days of its final voyage told in the present tense, follows the homosexual relationship between two crew members: Meinert, a German war vet who took pride in his bombing raids on England and France, a Gnüss, who is much younger, jealous, and infatuated with Meinert. The tension displayed from Gnüss’s perspective of their relationship is filled with fond memories of their love and Meinert’s war stories. As the drama plays out the dark humor creeps in at unexpected moments juxtaposed against the reader’s relentless knowledge that the Hindenburg would soon meet its fate:Egk is a fat little man with boils. Meinert considers him to have been well named. (Kindle Loc. 277-278)[Gnüss] goes below and stops by the crew’s quarters. No luck. He listens in on a discussion of suitable first names for children conceived aloft in a zeppelin. The consensus favors Shelium, if a girl. (Kindle Loc. 411-413)Ultimately, Gnüss’s despondency and jealousy brings down the zeppelin and everyone aboard:Inside the hangarlike hull, they can feel the gravitational forces as Captain Pruss brings the ship up to the docking mast in a tight turn. The sharpness of the turn overstresses the after-hull structure, and the bracing wire bolt that Gnüss overtightened snaps like a rifle shot. The recoiling wire slashes open the gas cell opposite. Seven or eight feet above Gnüss’s alarmed head, the escaping hydrogen encounters the prevailing St. Elmo’s fire playing atop the ship. (Kindle Loc. 475-478)The fireball explodes outward and upward, annihilating Gnüss at its center. More than 100 feet below on the axial catwalk, as the blinding light envelops everything below it, Meinert knows that whatever time has come is theirs, and won’t be like anything else. (Kindle Loc. 479-481)The final story of the collection, “Climb Aboard the Mighty Flea,” follows a small squadron of German soldiers during World War II who stopped caring about the war. Their job was to fly the “Messerschmitt 163 [the Komet], the first manned rocket-powered aircraft, the first aircraft in the world to exceed a thousand kilometers an hour in level flight, and in statistical terms the most dangerous aircraft ever built in a series.” (Kindle Loc. 4593-4595) They were intended as a line of defense to take down Allied bombers over Germany, albeit with poor effectiveness. Their lives were built around the high risks in piloting these rockets during testing and training exercises:So? we said to ourselves. Everyone knew that learning to fly meant little more than learning to land.But pilots are taught to land by flying alongside instructors. There was no room for two in these things. So we’d have to be told, rather than shown.“Does the landing,” Ziegler asked in a classroom session, “have to be perfect?”“No,” Wörndl shrugged. “You could die, instead.” (Kindle Loc. 4663-4667)As the story goes, a number of pilots die horrible deaths or experience grave injuries. Yet, it carries on in Shepard’s light-hearted and sometimes grotesque manner:The cockpit was filled with a black-and-red-and-yellow soup. The yellow looked like chicken fat. The fuel cells had shattered and the fuel had poured into the cockpit. Those who understood explained it to those who still didn’t: Glogner had been dissolved alive. (Kindle Loc. 4724-4726)The next Komet exploded on the flight line. When we reached the spot, there was only a blackened and steaming stain. Medical personnel found a bone fragment, and brought it in on a stretcher. (Kindle Loc. 4733-4734)Rösle’s Komet flipped on landing just before the perimeter. It didn’t explode and he was pulled from it just conscious, but pints of the fuel had run over his back while he hung there, and when they tore off the flight suit, the skin underneath was a jelly. He was on enough painkillers to last until April. (Kindle Loc. 4827-4829)The collective psychology of the squadron enters a mix of depression and isolation. They adopt a gallows humor to cope with the near-death risks of their job while celebrating their love for the Komets:My turn came next. “Come come come, Baby Bird,” Uhlhorn said as I held up my straw. “Your one-six-three-B is steaming and ready to blow. We need to put you in it or it will blow up for no reason.” (Kindle Loc. 4735-4736)We are all insomniacs. We are, as a group, a picturesque compendium of physical tics. (Kindle Loc. 4779)WHEN I WAKE there’s an impromptu celebration and meeting around my bunk. It transpires that Wörndl’s Komet caught fire right above the field. He had to bail out forty meters from the treetops and his parachute caught the upper branches of a big pine, insuring he only cracked his ankle. He tells everyone that it was like jumping off a church steeple with an umbrella. (Kindle Loc. 4823-4826)In conclusion, I could discuss this collection for endless hours, as the stories are rich in vivid content and unusual circumstances. I highly recommend Love and Hydrogen to anyone who enjoys the art of short fiction.

  • Dan
    2018-11-19 05:48

    Short stories are not always my cup of tea, but if someone does them well (and Jim Shepard does them very, very well) I think they can pack more of a punch than a novel; there's a tighter focus, a read-it-in-one-sitting kind of potency, and, when reading an anthology of short stories, the cumulative effect of story arc following story arc, the whole becoming greater than its parts. It's hard to pinpoint this guy's style, but he certainly has a flair for coming at stories in very unexpected angles -- the example that springs readily to mind is a story about a swamp creature, written from the perspective of the swamp creature. The resulting story is not quite sci-fi, not quite science documentary, not quite parody, not quite horror, not quite comedy, but a mix of all five that succeeds in being a very human and beautiful thing.

  • Paul
    2018-11-19 05:40

    Brilliant short fiction collection. One of my favorite collections of the past ten years.

  • Steve Day
    2018-12-05 04:56

    The stories of 'Love and Hydrogen' by Jim Shepard are among the best I've ever read, hands down. The title story is just one of many gems in this collection by my favorite author. 'Love and Hydrogen' chronicles the misadventure of two German mechanics ono the last voyage of the Hindenberg. His short story 'Climb Aboard The Mighty Flea' is an incredible account of the last days of a special branch of prototype testing of the Luftwaffe. We are experiencing in this story the treacherous missions of the test pilots for a prototype Messerschmidt jet fighter that might have altered the course of WWII. It is written as if by an engineer or an actual test pilot and the details really pull you in. 'Won't Get Fooled Again' follows the destructive path of legendary Who drummer Keith Moon. It is like being a roadie along with the band as Moon spirals out of control taking the hearts of loved ones along with him. I have read and re-read this collection over and over and I am constantly entertained by Shepard's lazer sharp prose.

  • Catherine
    2018-11-18 09:37

    "Look how snappy I am! I can reference soccer and historical events! Emotions and character depth? Who needs that?"The ones about the Mars collectible cards, the piano lessons, and the runway were fun.Also, the title story has the greatest sentence I have ever read:"Gnüss's most cherished toy for a year and a half was a clothespin on which his father had painted a face."I had Jim Shepard himself sign that sentence.

  • Leah Lucci
    2018-11-12 05:53

    This book was recommended for its "weirdness." I went into it, accordingly, ready for some crazy shit to go down, but that mostly didn't occur. A few of the stories did have some fantastical elements, or dip into obscure historical nooks, sure. Most of the stories, however, didn't lodge themselves in my heart or mind. Except for one, which was about a series of collector's cards telling a comic-book story about an alien invasion. That story slams lowbrow collection kitsch, pulp science fiction, and brotherly relations into a really interesting stew. It was a little weird. I feel like, if I had gone into the work with different expectations -- not specifically looking for "weird" -- I may have come out with a different impression. Alas, I was disappointed.

  • Brett
    2018-11-26 10:32

    So I really liked the present or near present time stories that seemed more personal. The ones where the 1st person narrator inserted themselves into this historical situation or that - with the exception of the gay Hindenburg crew members - were kind of stupid really. I don't know if historical fiction is a good short story genre, I doubt it....comes across way to contrived. "So I was talking to the Babe the other day about his base stealing" that kind of bullshit. It the book would've been more of category one and maybe one of category two I would've given it a 4 probably. There are good stories in here that's for sure.

  • Joshua Faber
    2018-11-17 10:50

    I should have liked this collection of short stories better -- the title piece about the Hindenburg is fantastic, the various classic scifi-esque stories worked for me, and the variety of characters and settings is amazing. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling as I went on that for all the diversity in the setups, there is basically a single tone in the conclusions throughout, about 1 part "Aha!" and two parts cute turn of phrase. By the end of the story, I was waiting for the inevitable ramp down to the largely anticlimactic finish, ruining even the better beginnings since you could feel the energy dissipating as they go.

  • Nathan Leslie
    2018-11-18 07:46

    I don't know. Shepard is a writer who folks have been gushing about for quite some time now, but this collection left me a bit cold. Shepard manages genre-twisting and historical/quasi-historical fiction very well, but I'm lacking characterization here. The writing is effective and clear, but overall I'm not sure who most of these stories are about--and for me that is as important as what a story is about. Enjoyed "The Gun Lobby" (strong story) and "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," but many of the others did not grab me.

  • Kurt
    2018-12-09 04:29

    I can scarcely believe I only just recently heard of Jim Shepard.

  • Mr.Jamie
    2018-12-01 02:43

    Read the first 10 stories, ending after "Reach for the Sky". Will finish these some day.

  • Chris Sherman
    2018-11-23 09:39

    September 23, 2007Bigfoot Meets Aeschylus By DANIEL HANDLERSkip to next paragraph LIKE YOU’D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY Stories. By Jim Shepard. 211 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $23. Open the cover of Jim Shepard’s new collection of stories and one of the first things you’ll see are the inevitable acknowledgments. But there’s none of the usual gooey sentimentality: explaining how his wife, the love of his life, has always been there for him when everyone else abandoned him, or spinning out a polished tribute to the literary agent who shook him by the collar and made him promise never, never, never to give up on the project. Instead, the lion’s share of these two pages of “Like You’d Understand, Anyway” is a long list of books. It’s a reading list that will put yours to shame. Highlights include Nina Lugovskaya’s “Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl,” Daniel Gerould’s “Guillotine: Its Legacy and Lore” and “The Art of the First Fleet and Other Early Australian Drawings,” which you may have forgotten is by Bernard Smith and Alwyn Wheeler. But Shepard isn’t just pointing out that he’s read these books and we haven’t. The breadth in these stories bears out his restless and thorough investigations, and serves as a reminder of the actual scope of a world too often represented by novels of Manhattanites and analyses of the current administration.This has always been Shepard’s way. If you set out to read everything by Jim Shepard you’ll find fiction about the filming of “Nosferatu,” a forbidden romance aboard the Hindenburg, the complaints of the creature from the Black Lagoon and first-person accounts from both John Entwhistle of the Who and John Ashcroft, also from the Black Lagoon. And yet — and those who haven’t read Shepard may find this hard to believe — he’s not a gimmicky writer.In all his work, Shepard is after something our current literature far too often avoids. The short-story form, in particular, has fallen lately into two camps: the realistic kind (in which one of a small quiver of pyschological tropes is played out quietly in a few scenes) and the experimental kind (in which an unusual premise or point of view that would grow tiring in a novel is explored, often with a sudden twist). These are both very readable forms, and much gorgeous prose can be found stretched on their frames. Yet Shepard somehow manages to write simultaneously in both of them — and neither of them. His far-ranging plots aren’t illustrations of the usual conclusions, and he doesn’t tackle an unusual premise just to prove that he can. Instead, he has found a route through these terrains that leads to end points both surprising and inevitable. In other words, he’s telling stories. That this should feel like an original approach is testimony to how bracing his work really is.Continued in next Shepard book on list.

  • Will
    2018-12-11 05:53

    In the lives of the kicked and bruised it is all too easy to forget our own humanity in attempting to overcome or escape the pain that that same humanity causes. Whim dictated I pick up Jim Shepard’s Love and Hydrogen and I saw it as an attempt to reconnect with what the back cover lauds as “red-blooded characters,” an author with an “elephantine heart” and an articulation of “that millennial American optimism that is indistinguishable from despair.” Shepard works some kind of magic here where characters simultaneously confront their greatest successes and failures in these sharp little stories. They almost seem like bittersweet songs for the down and out yet never wax heavily on the ol’ self-pity and loathing. Many of the stories hold the trials of relationships, mostly familial, as a central theme but every story is told with a healthy dose of action: the Hindenburg’s final flight, a one student take-over of a school, collectible cards depicting humanity's grisly battle with martians. One of my favorites, “The Mortality of Parents”, was like a loving punch to the gut: “Thirty years have passed and I’m still a timorous figure navigating a makeshift and narrow life. Thirty years have passed without my having addressed my ambition to shape myself into an admirable figure, in his image” (165). Irrelevant side note (really, it’s okay, you can skip this). Love and Hydrogen is a collection of Shepard’s stories that have already been published in other places and forms. The result of this collection is something ghostly and uncanny. To give the two examples that immediately come to mind: different stories will share characters with the same last names, separate families will share afflictions that play out very differently. It invokes that déjà vu that itches the back of your mind where you try to remember what bus ride it was when you overheard some troubled person recounting to their friend, in that nonchalant cry for help fashion, the dissolution of their family.Shepard’s execution of stories in Love and Hydrogen is deft and heartfelt. He might have a little trouble writing women but there’s something here for everyone. Whether searching for salve or just a good story, Love and Hydrogen will provide.

  • Wendy
    2018-11-21 07:38

    I'll start with the usual disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of short story collections by one author, which often are so similar to one another in tone and theme and subject matter (Lahiri? Proulx?) that after the first couple they all start to blend together and I find myself skimming impatiently to the end, while thinking "well, I've already got the point of this.... Love and Hydrogen still does this to some degree, but I liked how eclectic the stories were in subject matter, if not in their general themes and tones of dissatisfaction with life. The best stories in this collection seem to be clustered near the beginning and end of the book--I adored the titular "Love and Hydrogen" and "Climb Aboard the Mighty Flea" for taking such interesting and unusual viewpoints as gay crew members on the Hindenburg, and a German test pilot in 1945 (talk about doomed!)--the voices and historical details here are riveting and unique. I also liked "Mars Attacks" for its use of a deck of gruesome collectors cards depicting a fictitious martian invasion to provide structure for a story that's really about a dysfunctional relationship between brothers (this theme pops up in many of the other stories, but I liked its presentation here best), and also "Batting Against Castro" for being the most humorous and relatively "light" story of the bunch. The more contemporary setups fell rather flat for me (with the exception of "Spending a Night with the Poor" and "Hands in the Air"). The only story I really disliked was the one about John Ashcroft, narrated from his point(-less) point of view. I could have lived without that one, but recommend the collection as a whole. I'll be looking for more from this writer.P.S. I excited to come across one of his stories in the 2010 Best American Short Stories...and then heartily disappointed once I had read it. I'm glad I read this collection first.

  • Lillie
    2018-11-23 02:39

    This is a collection of short stories all by Jim Shepard. His style changes according to whose point of view his is writing from, making each story unique, and yet his characters all share some deep loneliness or longing which turns to beauty in small moments. He writes from the unexpected perspective, showing the humanity, the variety of interpretations, and the beauty in the most horrifying, reviling or villianized people and situations.His short story “John Ashcroft: More Important Things Than Me” shows that John Ashcroft may have been a reprehensible politician, but he was doing the best he knew how to further our country and stay true to his values. “Batting Against Castro” shows the beginning of the Cuban Revolution from the perspective of a white American subpar pro-baseball player. Sending America’s second-tier players to Cuba may have been another way the U.S. was exploiting the country, but the men themselves just wanted to play ball. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” is told from the perspective of the creature, and how it feels and thinks and does not understand while it kills. Shepard goes into every situation sideways and reveals their unexpected, and inevitably undeniably true, humanity.My only problem is that, while the narrations bring alive unconsidered sides of old stories, his writing style makes it hard to connect on more than an intellectual level. Everything is very well done, intricately considered, and realistic. However, Shepard has chosen those perspectives which are inherently harder to sympathize with, and he does not extra work to make them viscerally real. Each story is an intellectual exercise in broadening horizons. Take away the unconventional perspective and there remains no worth in the story.These stories show how there is always another side. I rate this book 7/10.https://readingrampant.wordpress.com/

  • Derek
    2018-11-12 06:46

    I’m not sure why we don’t just go ahead and make Jim Shepard the president or something.There’s so much wisdom and vigor and candor in the stories collected in Love and Hydrogen that Shepard establishes himself as one of our finest living short story writers. Why he’s not as widely read or anthologized as some of his contemporaries is beyond me.Much is made of the variety of Shepard’s stories (this is especially true of his superior collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway), and for good reason. He tackles history, sports, dogs, rock music, youthful angst, the creature from the Black Lagoon, and dissolving relationships with equal quality, and seems comfortable in each. He’s especially adept at creating the types of characters who you love to read about and would never want to meet: ne’er-do-wells, fuck-ups, and losers. Shepard is most memorable when writing them from the first person. The knowledge contained in these stories feels hard-won through the tenacity (or perhaps stubbornness) of the characters, and their mistakes illuminate our own. I’m not sure if the “historical” stories can be referred to as “historical fiction,” but they certainly do bring a perspective of history that helps to strengthen the work Shepard does. That is, he’s not getting by on the standard trappings of the genres he explores. These are consistently unique stories, a word so overused as to be practically useless, but accurate in the case of Shepard. Again, this isn’t quite the gangbuster Like You’d Understand, Anyway, but there are still plenty of moments to make Shepard’s book worth your time. So many writers seem boring in comparison.

  • Patrick McCoy
    2018-12-07 03:30

    I think Isaiah Berlin’s classification of writers as hedgehogs (those who have one great theme) and foxes (those who have many themes) can be a useful classification of writers. Jim Shepard is definitely a fox. In this collection, Love and Hydrogen, much like last year’s Pulitzer Prize nominated collection Like You’d Understand is a dizzying array of original and inventive stories. There are quirky tales of dysfunctional families: “gun lobby,” “Runway,” and “The Morality of Parents.” He has a number of sports related stories, some of which infuse historical events into them like “Batting Against Castro” (about baseball and politics in pre-revolution Cuba) as well as “Ajax Is All About Attack” (which is about 60s politics in The Netherlands and soccer). One of Shepperd’s greatest strengths is the adolescent coming of age story: “Mars Attacks,” “Glut Your Soul On My Accursed Ugliness,” “and “Spending The Night With The Poor.” It is also apparent that Shepperd often infuses his stories with scientific or historical research: gay Nazis in love in a zeppelin (“Love and Hydrogen”), WWII battles behind occupied lines (“The Assassination of Reinhard Heydad”), deep sea exploration (“descent into Perpetual Night”) and exploration of uncharted lands (“Astounding Stories”) to name a few of his forays into history and science. I’d like to read one of his novels and see how he manages to sustain a story into a longer narrative.

  • Julia Brown
    2018-11-15 02:47

    I've become a Shepard 'shipper, really. He's just so, so good.Many of my favorites from Batting Against Castro are reprinted here: Piano Starts Here, Messiah, Runway, Krakatau, Spending the Night the Poor. But there are lots of newer, wonderful stories included.I find Shepard most compelling when he's way deep up inside the dysfunctional family. The Gun Lobby, in which a husband is taken hostage by his arms aficionado wife, is a winner from beginning to end. I also really enjoyed The Mortality of Parents, and Glut Your Soul on My Accursed Ugliness.In a collection as eclectic as this, it's probably normal that not every story will float everyone's boat. I'm less keen on the, to my reading, more "researched" stories, like the one about John Ashcroft. (The boldest exception is Love and Hydrogen, a story about two male lovers aboard the Hindenburg. It was the first Jim Shepard story I ever read, in Best American Short Stories 2002.)I read all the stories anyway. It's exciting, watching Shepard's depth of feel widen and sharpen into what it will become with Like You'd Understand Anyway. Jim Shepard is a smart, smart man, and a fantastic writer. One of the best. Go see him read.

  • Joe
    2018-12-09 08:29

    This book - I should note before continuing - barely achieved a four-star rating. It is clear throughout the collection that Jim Shepard has masses of talent, and an uncanny eye for personal conflicts, combined with a sharp tongue for putting those conflicts on the page, but despite this, each story in the collection feels like the same story as all the others - as though he's only written one story, but then changed the names and copied the story 21 times over to make up an anthology.That being said, Jim Shepard does overflow with ability. Unfortunately, he writes like a child who's discovered a new toy - he knows he can do this one thing really well, writing about people's broken relationships, and so he does it again and again, as much as he can, without seeming to be able to move on from there. If there were only one story in this book, then it would easily deserve a five-star rating, but as it is, I cannot in good conscience rate the anthology more than four stars, and that just barely. In summary: a very mixed bag.

  • Tim Storm
    2018-11-17 10:33

    This collection was a mixed bag for me. Shepherd's genre of choice seems to be re-imagined historical fiction. The title story, a case in point, tells of two gay lovers employed aboard the Hindenburg. "Won't Get Fooled Again," tells the story of the rock band The Who from the perspective of John Entwhistle, the bass player. "Descent into Perpetual Night" tells of William Beebe, naturalist and explorer and one of the guys who took the first deep-sea dives in the bathysphere. The list goes on. At least half of the stories in this collection have a basis in some nonfictional event or person. Shepherd is very good at this historical fiction, but more to my taste are stories like "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which takes the pov of an ancient marine sleestak-like creature who stalks a group of explorers who enter his lagoon. I also enjoyed "Runway" and "The Gun Lobby," both of which reminded me of Ron Carlson's writing, told as they are with such humor and absurdity.

  • Kawai
    2018-11-26 09:58

    A collection of stories that swoop from the titular suppressed gay love affair amidst the heights of the Hindenburg to a modern day struggle of familial mental illness. If you've read other fiction by Shepard, you'll start to notice the themes that run through much of his work: Small lives writ large against massive natural disasters, blue-collar families struggling with internal decay; singular figures pushing against the bounds of their calling, whether sports or art or science. Those themes are present in heaps here, and while I've lauded his later work of the same vein ('Like You'd Understand, Anyway' being one example), this collection sticks out in my mind as one of the most impressive achievements in Shepard's body of work.If you're a fan of the short story form, there's lots to love here.

  • mstan
    2018-11-30 08:28

    To me, this is a hyper-masculine short story collection, with lots of armaments, science and the rougher parts of history thrown in. The collection's extremely clever and innovative, and reflects Shepard's wide-ranging interests.Some experiments are more successful than others, and I find myself liking a few quite a lot, and others, very little. "Love and Hydrogen", which is about two homosexual Nazis in a zeppelin, is really good, as is the first story, "The Gun Lobby", about a wife holding her husband hostage. I'm not so sure about the sports/politics stories like "Ajax is all about Attack", which read a little more like essays/ideas masquerading as stories.Shepard seems to me to be the kind of author who will have a cult following, and be a favourite with critics, but whose work is actually more academic than literary.

  • Jon
    2018-11-29 09:50

    I had a tough time figuring out how to rate Love and Hydrogen. While there certainly were quite a few 5-star stories here, I downright hated about a third of them. It has never taken me so long to finish a book in my life, because every time I'd be chugging along, enjoying myself, I'd hit a story that decimated my interest. I'd fight through it and put the book down for a few weeks, reluctant to pick it up again with such a bad taste in my mouth. That's not to say the book is without merit: Spending the Night With the Poor, Krakatau, Won't Get Fooled Again and the eponymous Love and Hydrogen were fantastic. I just wish the flow of stories was smoother, with fewer speed bumps so I might have read straight through and enjoyed the book as a whole.

  • Art Craig
    2018-12-09 10:37

    A brilliant collection of short stories. Each selection is magnificently well researched, adding a layer of depth to the stories that shines through. Shepard's stories run the gamut from science fiction to doomed romance. He gives life to characters ranging from a research scientist obsessed with exploring the depths of the ocean to a husband held hostage by his gun-loving wife to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The titular story, Love and Hydrogen, follows a love affair between two crew members aboard the Hindenberg and he treats his subjects with a tender humanity that is all the more remarkable considering the backdrop that he paints them against. This is quickly becoming a favorite collection of short stories.

  • Sandra Jensen
    2018-11-20 03:30

    Jim Shepard’s collections of short stories are remarkable, in my opinion. He recently won the Story Prize for Like You’d Undersand, Anyway, one of the most prestigious awards available for short-story collections.The stories for the most part manage to bridge two camps of ‘short story’ writing – they are both realistic *and* experimental, and, neither. He covers an incredible range – Nazi scientists trekking through Tibet looking for the yeti; middle-aged Aeschylus taking up arms at Marathon; a day in the life of a Texan high-school football player; having a schizophrenic brother; the tedium of being a scribe in Hadrian’s army. Emotionally ‘true’ throughout, and also exploring the full range of human endeavor and experience. Great stuff.

  • Jerry Delaney
    2018-11-17 08:55

    This is hard for me to review because my reactions are spread all over, much the way the stories themselves are. Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness is heart-wrenching and a reminder of the depths felt by children. But it follows Mars Attack which reads as just storyboards for a film. Mildly clever, mildly entertaining. JJohn Ashcroft is a series of vignettes, excerpts of speeches and remember antes from the real John Ashcroft. Except these are fictional. Do the reflect the real man? Again, it feels like an exercise in cleverness rather than a sincere effort. Do pick up this book. But my recommendation is find the gems and ignore the rest. And if you bump into a story with a child as the protagonist, pick that one. That's where you'll see Shepard's humanity bursting forth.

  • Chris
    2018-11-14 08:37

    This is apparently a collection of stories written by The World's Most Interesting Man, who has a very long lifespan, excellent note-taking ability, and a particular interest in the heights of 20th century German innovation and warmongering. He has a strange (if potent) drive to imagine himself inside scenarios of petty domestic unhappiness which must be quite foreign to him, and he was also in The Who.Also, nearly ever story has an abrupt and slightly disappointing ending, so that's curious. But, basically, except for John Ashcroft and Mars Attacks, and a few of the "ordinary life" stories being average, it's pretty great.

  • Katherine Pearl
    2018-11-19 10:51

    The title story of this collection ties with Alice Munro’s “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,”making them my two favorites of all time. I love Munro’s story because it goes somewhere unexpected. I adore “Love and Hydrogen” because it takes you to the inevitable conclusion, the explosion of the Hindenburg, but along the way you encounter the most unexpected and utterly touching love story. Shepard is an ambitious, compelling writer, and this collection is a treat from start to finish.