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The Best People in the World: A Novel

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In Paducah, Kentucky, seventeen-year-old Thomas feels as reined in as the mighty Ohio, a river confined by high floodwalls protecting his small Southern hometown. But all boundaries vanish when Thomas experiences first love with Alice, his new history teacher, a woman eight years his senior—and when he meets Shiloh, a misfit vagabond and anarchist who becomes his new role ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published February 7th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 281)
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This is the affective story, written in a well representative almost bleak style, of seventeen year old Thomas Mahey. Thomas is from a small, blue-collar town in Kentucky, a place that is kept on the verge of disaster by high flood walls holding back the Ohio River. With naivety and optimism, simple truths, questions instead of answers, Thomas leaves town in the wee hours with his two new friends: Twenty-five year old, first year teacher, and his lover, Alice Lowe and the towns misfit vagabond, ...more
Sep 12, 2007 mike rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think a crow would be a good pet
This book was strangely unsatisfying, despite being a book I'm sure I'll remember for a long time. When I wasn't feeling ambivalent toward the characters, I was feeling confused about their motivations. As we might have said in workshop a long time ago, I wasn't sure what was at stake for most of this book; when I finally found out, it wasn't worth the wait. So that was disappointing. What I'll remember for a while is the evocation of place, mainly Vermont, along with a few well-executed episode ...more
This has to be one of the strangest books I have ever read...
Thomas Mahey feels the literal and figurative walls around him. As the narrator of Justin Tussing's debut novel, The Best People in the World , Thomas takes us with him on his search for freedom.[return][return]It is 1972. Thomas is a 17-year-old living in Paducah, Kentucky, a town with a 20-foot high floodwall erected to protect it from the Ohio River. He feels similar walls forming around his life. In the summer before his junior year of high school, his father gets him a job at the local powe ...more
A first novel from a short story writer, The Best People in the World explores the misery a small group of basically well-meaning people can inflict on each other when they go four-seasonal stir crazy. Most of the time, they have only each other for company, and every time they rub against each other literally or figuratively brings them more pain than comfort - especially when their physical survival or health is in jeopardy.

Justin Tussing does well in transporting the reader, who will share t
I guess I'm still reeling from this piece. It falls under the lines of absurdist literature, which sort of surprises me because it seems like a thing of the past. This slice-of-life style novel is beautifully written but left to the reader on plot interpretation. You can tell the author was formerly a short story writer. He jumps around a bit and tends to leave out some pertinent information. However, the concept that love is all we need is intricately explored. In the end, we crave more. No mat ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Tussing, who published a preview of this novel in the New Yorker, offers a melancholic slice of the American mythos that reflects its ideals and tarnished realities. Loving characters, including a narrator looking back on his experiences and emotions, populate the novel, but others, including two priests investigating miracles, left some critics wondering. Best People paints a wonderful canvas of 1970s America, both from the vantage point of the road and an isolated Vermont life, though little a

Lake Oz Fic Chick
It's 1972 in Paducah, Kentucky, and quiet 17-year-old Thomas Mahey falls into an intense love affair with his 25-year-old history teacher, Alice Lowe. Joining forces with Shiloh, the local misfit anarchist, the three of them run off to Vermont, determined to live “off the grid.” But soon enough they find that no one escapes their past easily and life, even in a would-be utopia, is full of complicated choices and unexpected outcomes. A parallel plot follows two Catholic cardinals as they investig ...more
I found myself very much into this book at the beginning, when it treated the early love story, and later when it told about the later stages of the relationship btwn Shiloh, Alice, and the boy. The middle though, could have used some serious chopping, since it only prolonged the Vermont idyll with nature observations and reinforcement of what was already known. This could have been a novella -- a really good novella.
Jen Angel
I haven't quite decided yet. The characters are well formed and have depth, and I went through periods of liking and disliking each one. It is a slow read. I was happy with the portrayal of Shiloh and his politics, and thought that the author must be an anarchist or have friends who are!

And in the end, it made me feel sad, especially for Thomas, but also for Shiloh. Alice wasn't likable for me.
A book set in the seventies about living off the grid and being a free spirit. A boy leaves his family and hometown behind with a new friends; a girlfriend and an anarchist friend. They try living off the land and in seclusion. I really liked this book and recommended it to many.
I might actually put this one back on the shelf after only 50 pages. Frankly, I'm bored with it: the scenes lack real emotion, the writing is choppy and simple, and nothing seems very important. It's trying too hard to be clever. In a word: trite.

I love the writing style... absolutely beautiful. Though I don't like getting bogged down in self-serving existential books, this one really exceeded expectations. I thought about it for a long time afterward. I loved it.
A re-read of a title I loved back in 2006. I was sorry to find that it didn't hold up so well after a few years--now, the dialogue seems stilted, and the action clunky and ill-proportioned.
eh.. wouldn't recommend. Language was great.. story not so much.. very little character development.. Maybe I just wasn't in the right head space for the sub plots.
It was beautifully written, almost poetic in places BUT it was tedious. Really struggle dto get through it as it wasn't headed anywhere it just dragged on and on.
Julia Glassman
This book had a couple of funny parts, but overall it was so deadpan and monotonous that I didn't look forward to each new chapter.
I definitely grew weary of the story about halfway through, but Tussing has some truly breathtaking literary moments here.
interesting writing style. First novel. It took a bit to get going but I am still thinking about it which is nice.
This book was almost deeper than I could go but I loved it. Very good. The soul of Justin Tussing is BIG.
Good wiriting. BUt didn't like one of the major players and that was hard. beautiful and scary, vivid images.
I didn't love this book, but I liked it a whole lot, and think about it often.
Started out slow, but overall was a different and interesting story.
He is a good writer. Lots of potential. But the plot didn't hold.
Dec 18, 2008 Deb marked it as to-read
A Powell's recommendation.
Oct 09, 2007 Simone added it
Can't really tell yet.
Jan 11, 2008 Brian marked it as to-read
oregon book award
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