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Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine: Stories

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  507 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Twelve stories that teeter between wicked humor and stinging pathos encompassdilapidated right arenas, state mental hospitals, and chaotic emergency roomswhere the inhabitants are brilliantly etched characters.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 12th 2000 by Back Bay Books (first published 1998)
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Paul Bryant
I love this guy Thom Jones but I hate his name. It looks like a really bad career move. He must have had to say a million times "no, not that Tom Jones, I'm Thom with a H, you think Tom What's New Pussycat Jones would be writing books called The Pugilist At Rest? He wouldn't be able to see his keyboard for all the panties. Okay sorry, that probably came across a little snappy. But every time, every time... Thom. With a H." And his fans like me have to say pretty much the same. It's tiresome. Als ...more
Oct 09, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, specficially men

Thom Jones captures Dick-Lit, in a prolific way that is both thoughtful and ugly.

Every short story oozes a touch of masculinity and has the reader astonished that a former maintenance man for Iowa State not only wrote these amazing pieces, but also has been able to form a secure career in the literary world by doing so.

One of the best books I've ever read. Hands down.

John Pappas
Jun 06, 2013 John Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know if Jones could sustain or replicate in his third collection the momentum he built in his staggering first book of stories, but he surpasses that knock-out collection with twelve new stories about a handful of Schopenhauer-addicted ne'er-do-wells and knuckleheads. There is a greater depth of character and more skillful deployment of tension and release at work in these stories. The sheer force of his first collection is tempered by defter story construction and pacing -- the stories ...more
Axel Ainglish
Sep 27, 2015 Axel Ainglish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shockingly wide registry, this author leads you from black humour to sheer poetry in his always good, some very interesting short stories. a genre in which, really, he excells. Speaking about Thom Jones implies Literature with capital letters, have known no one not liking it after reading. On the contrary, we all keep waiting new books about this very singular writer. Having written only three, this ex marine, ex boxer winner of a hundred and fifty K.O. victories, one would say before reading hi ...more
Found this book on a remainder table at the Book Revue in Huntington. The title rang a bell with me. I'd heard it mentioned somewhere before- I think. Not sure where though. I glanced through a few pages- and the writing looked pretty good. The blurbs on the back and the general look and feel of the book also sold me. His writing is fluid. Words- sentences- paragraphs- thoughts- and scenes for the most part flow smoothly along. The content is a little dark and rough around the edges. One of the ...more
Patrick Faller
Nov 12, 2011 Patrick Faller rated it liked it
Uneven. "Tarantula" and "A Midnight Clear" stand at opposite ends of the sad-and-tender meets barely-restrained-rage spectrum, and showcase the depth of Jones's range as a writer, but they're overshadowed by the macho war stories and others; "I Love You, Sophia Western" shocks, as does "The Comforts of Home." These stories seem to express Jones's aesthetic more completely. I wanted to like the long story, "You Cheated, You Lied," but the narrator's tendency to reduce his sexual encounters to one ...more
Jul 31, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Thom Jones book I've read, and I was impressed. There's something really earthy about this writing, or maybe down to earth. It's tempting, because of his many boxing stories, to make a lot of boxing analogies about his writing, but I guess that'd be trite at this point. Still, the writing is really solid, and he does punch the hell out of his characters. No one has it easy; very few catch a break. But the stories aren't bleak; they can be quite funny.

Jones reminds me a little
Adrian Astur Alvarez
This one was disappointing. After reading Jones' earlier collection, The Pugilist at Rest, and being completely blown away, this one, his latest collection of short stories, felt stunted. Sadly, Thom Jones doesn't seem to be growing as an artist. The result is a lot of telling without showing, the repetition of earlier themes or characters without any new development, and a list of unlikable characters paralytically unable to change. Although there are some fine stories here (I liked "40, Still ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Craven rated it really liked it
I have to thank my Fifty-page Rule (I give every book under 400 pages a fifty page trial [400+ gets 100 pgs.:]), otherwise I would have put this book down because the first two stories weren’t very good. However, after that it just sets off a runnin’. Dark, negative stories of broken folks, shitty people making bad decisions due their own selfishness. There’s not a lot of light in this book, or sympathetic characters. But these are great stories, in the end it shows the present and discerning re ...more
J. Kent Messum
I have a very short list of guys I admire and want to emulate when it comes to writing. It basically boils down to Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, and a handful of others. Thom Jones is part of that handful.

Thom's writing hits the mark in almost every way I want to see on the page. This short story collection exemplifies the man's skill, full of raw power and precision, careful craftsmanship and strong executions.

When it came to the individual stories though, some fell flat for me, while othe
Jan 13, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Thom Jones & Hubert Selby Fans
Thom Jones writes unique tales with a lot of power. This may be a disappointment for readers of A Pugilist At Rest. This book hits a much wider array of subjects. The common reviewer states that Thom writes what he knows about Boxing, Military Vietnam Vets, Mental Hospitals, Janitors, and Elipeptics. Thom assualts the reader with an incredible power. Some of the stories have redemption. What is interesting and flawed about his writing is how he cross-references decades, seemingly intentionally, ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
With each story as interesting as the next, it's hard to drop this book. The settings change constantly: Mexico, Vietnam, Hawaii, psych ward, boxing ring, apartment-turned-mouse laboratory; the characters, though many are unique to their setting, are all displayed with human characteristics. There is violence throughout, especially in the first few stories, but Jones writes in a way that doesn't over-glorify it. Key stories: "You Cheated, You Lied," "I Love You, Sophie Western," "A Midnight Clea ...more
Andrew Brown
Jul 27, 2014 Andrew Brown rated it liked it
Thom Jones is clearly a subscriber of writing what he knows, so prepare yourself for a lot of stories about boxing, poor mental health, and military service, some of which can teeter dangerously close to cliches. The sheer number of them can make the limited number of topics rather tedious as well. A competent collection nonetheless, with the eponymous story a particular standout.
Jun 10, 2010 Richard rated it liked it
Jones knocked me on my ass when I read The Pugilist at Rest, especially the title story. Here, though, I find that the man has jumped the shark a bit, down to a Pugilist recap in "My Heroic Mythic Journey." "Mouses" was a stunning story, and alone is worth getting a hold of the book for, but a lot of other stories had me literally writing "Oh, stop" in the margin.
Noli  Janos
Apr 23, 2016 Noli Janos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straight up excellent. Modern bukowski
Jul 29, 2008 Datsun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked The Pugilist at Rest better, but this is still pretty good stuff. Maybe even a bit more optimistic than the other. Still, it's all fairly butch stuff: boxers, Vietnam, low-paying jobs, maladjusted veterans, drug use and casual cruelty. Best read in small doses, perhaps, like a strong cheese or something.
Bronco Billy
Très déçu. J'en attendais beaucoup, avec toutes les bonnes critiques et c'est assez décevant. La première nouvelle du recueil est excellente, le reste pas trop mal écrit mais sans trop de fond. Ça fait le malin, mais ça reste peu subtil et surtout très vain (cf la dernière nouvelle).
Ben Brackett
Jan 02, 2014 Ben Brackett rated it really liked it
Thom Jones has this ability to just smash you with his language. This collection felt a little more contemporary than the last one I read by him, and some of the stories felt less like gritty reality, but still really enjoyable in the cadence of the interaction and narration.
Apr 12, 2011 Timothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
I've been trying to "get" the Thom Jones thing and after 'Cold Snap' and 'The Pugilist at Rest' I finally "got" it with This !! Absolutely amazing the journeys he takes you on in these short stories !
Apr 26, 2008 Rauan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the war writing's terrible. and a couple of the other stories are weak. but there a handful of super stories. as good as anything written these days. especially the crazy long one that ends the collection.
Gregory Pierce
Nov 07, 2011 Gregory Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was difficult to get into the first few stories, simply because I lack interest in war stories and boxing. However, once I delved into everything beyond that, I loved the stories.
Adam Cogbill
I wasn't as blown away by Sonny Liston as I was by The Pugilist at Rest...but the ones that are good in here are REALLY good--"Mouses" and "Tarantula," in particular.

Sean A.
I'm putting this on indefinite hold. Didn't grab me like his other collection "The Pugilist at Rest." Ah! "The Pugilist at Rest", what a fantastic book!
Matt Reese
Dec 03, 2012 Matt Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my faves. All of Jones's works speak to me. They are visceral and full of humor. The subject matter, boxing etc. is right up my alley.
Jan 12, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
There are a couple of mercilessly funny stories in this collection which makes it well worth buying, stealing, or checking out of the library.
Dec 02, 2007 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Tarantula was my favorite story, but the others were great also. I read this while traveling in Europe; not that it matters any.
Mar 03, 2008 Sullivan241osu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The words "looked up at Wesley with sheep eyes and he swallowed" haunt me to this day.
Jon Henry
Jul 26, 2012 Jon Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of vivid short stories. great if you don't have a lot of time to read.
Jan 22, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent collection from one of the best modern short-story writers around.
Jun 05, 2007 Jason rated it really liked it
A return to form...and a return to more boxing and Vietnam tales.
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Thom Jones (born January 26, 1945) is an American writer, primarily of short stories.

Jones was raised in Aurora, Illinois, and attended the University of Hawaii, where he played catcher on the baseball team. He later attended the University of Washington, from which he graduated in 1970, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, from which he received an M.F.A. in 1973.
Jones traine
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