...[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.