I will always be grateful for this book. The night my father died I couldn't sleep and got up to wander around downstairs. I came upon this book or part of it in one of those magazine giveaways, it was just lying around. I sat down to dip into it by the light of a table lamp. The short story I read was called 'Opening Day'. Its about a father and son going out to hunt early in the morning. It drew me in and comforted me in a way that I'd not have thought possible. Gutterson manages to convey all of the frailties and imperfections of father-son relationships without being heavy handed or leading you too much. The understated dialogue and interplay of the narrative with nature gives the tale an elegiac feel that is both poignant and real. At my lowest, lowest ebb it miraculously made me feel better.
Like 'Opening Day' many of the other stories feature turning points or characters on the brink of great change as you'd expect from the title. The stories also share, for the most part, a close connection to nature and Gutterson's great ability to evoke mood and ideas by almost paying homage to the landscape he describes. 'Angels in the Snow' is a departure from this - a tendency towards infidelity is foretold by the apparently innocent recklessness of youth as a protagonist looks back on a failed relationship in later life. Gutterson's writing is a bit ponderous at times but I'll always be grateful for the comfort and warmth of 'Opening Day'.
I bought this because I really enjoyed "Snow Falling on Cedars" and another novel about a surgeon who was terminally ill (can't recall the title) which I also rated highly. However, I gave up on this book after reading a couple of the stories which , although well written, I found were male-orientated - for example a hunting expedition - and didn't appeal to me.