...[a] wonderful, essential new collection ... These 45 career-spanning stories contain more artistry, humor, eyebrow-raising plot turns, and surprising diction than seems possible in one book ... ['Like a Leaf'] is one of the book's best stories, an extraordinary depiction of loneliness and psychological disturbance ... at the most elemental level, the true pleasure of these stories is that page after page can be read for both plot and language. Compelling and sometimes astonishing events are rendered through prose that's compelling and often astonishing. The stakes always feel high (characters can die and do die), and there's no such thing as a not-funny McGuane story. The result is a continuous succession of storytelling delights.
...the stories are uniformly brilliant ... I don’t know what happened during that long break between the first and second collections, but McGuane has emerged a master of the short story. However close together the bulk of these pieces were written, Cloudbursts is clearly the product of a life’s worth of thought and feeling and experience; it ought to be savored. That said, if you find yourself tearing through the book like a flash flood washing out a dirt road, I say go for it ... As many of his characters come to realize in these wise and moving stories, the blessing and the curse of a vast landscape is to have yourself for company. That’s no less true on the range than on the sea. A man can outrun all kinds of things, at least for a while, but never himself.
McGuane has less in common with icons of Western machismo like Jim Harrison and Hemingway than with John Cheever, that meticulous observer of bridge-and-tunnel loneliness ... the essence of McGuane-ism is very much here: dry wit, wry confusion and prose as chiseled and striking as a Rocky Mountain butte ... Like all collections of this kind, repetition magnifies the author’s limitations. Mr. McGuane’s men are cut from the same sad sackcloth and his women are either humorless martinets or the type who start drinking at lunch. But even when the stories plow similar grooves, the brightness and humor of the writing never fails to delight.
McGuane has a way of revealing mundane experience through extraordinary circumstance and can provoke powerful emotion in readers despite the frequent flatness of his prose ... As his frequent appearances in Best American Short Stories attest, McGuane is a master, choosing his words with a lapidary’s precision and setting them in sentences that burn brightly, finishing his stories with epiphanies to treasure.
The stories in Cloudbursts vary widely in tone and style from those earlier writings. But even seen through a rearview mirror that reaches back decades, Yardley’s commendation for McGuane’s work holds up. His deft knack for tale-spinning is why ... Writing from the West, and about it, in an authentic way is McGuane’s brand ... All but seven of the 45 stories in Cloudbursts have been previously published, either in books, in the New Yorker or elsewhere. Gathered here as a lifetime collection, these short stories are a masterful addition to the form.
In his early stories, he could pull off a Cheever-esque domestic drama like 'The Millionaire,' about a family secreting away their pregnant teenage daughter at a summer home, but more often delivered strained yarns constructed around easy symbolic conflicts ... The newer stories, by contrast, are at once sturdier and more sensitive ... A stellar writer on the outdoors who’s gotten better at describing interior wildernesses over time.