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Panorama City

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  476 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
With its blend of fool’s wisdom and deeply felt humanity, Panorama City is heir to Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Steve Martin’s The Jerk. 

From his deathbed*, 28-year-old Oppen Porter—an open-hearted, bicycle-riding, binocular-toting, self-described "slow absorber"—unspools into a cassette recorder a tale of self-determination, from "village idiot" to "man of the world,"
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30)
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Patrick Brown
Sep 24, 2012 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2012
I have been meaning to write a long review of this book, because I think there's a lot in it to pull out and examine, but I am a busy man, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. So in lieu of something more meaningful, let me just say that I defy you not to like this book. Oppen Porter, the narrator of Panorama City, is so endearing, so charming that by page five, you'll be completely engrossed. I always have a thing about "likeability" with regards fictional characters. The short vers ...more
Dec 14, 2012 Roxane rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant novel. The protagonist, Oppen Porter, is fully realized and we are quickly pulled into his way of seeing the world. This is a seductive novel in that we know things about Oppen that he doesn't know about himself and still, he is easy to believe and to like and to love. On a craft level, there are these gorgeous, long, LONG sentences, so perfectly crafted, I kept thinking, "May these sentences never end." That is much how I felt about the novel.

I absolutely loved this and am
Vanessa Torres
Oct 02, 2012 Vanessa Torres rated it it was amazing
In the beginning, I found it a tad difficult to follow. I was a little confused by the rhythm and the many commas, but after a while I got the hang of it and I truly enjoyed the read. It got to the point where I'd wake up and first thing I did was start reading, cuddled up with my blanket. I really came to admire the main character and narrator, Oppen. He was intelligent, a great thinker, but also very humble with a hint of naive. I liked being inside his mind and I loved following his journey. ...more
Jim Hiller
Dec 24, 2012 Jim Hiller rated it it was amazing
On surface, there is much in this book that would absolutely drive me crazy; plots that seemingly don't go anywhere, characters of not much redeeming value. However, the character of Oppen Porter, the narrator in this book, truly had me cheering for him within the first couple of pages, and so, I was willing to go on the ride. Part religious parable, part philosophical examination, part adventure story, Wilson deftly handles the story by focusing on Oppen's delightfully innocent reactions to the ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
This is a *must* read. I believe it would cause even the most jaded cynic to shed a little of her thick skin. I was sad to say goodbye to Oppen Porter when I closed the book. You'll want to keep seeing the world through his eyes long after you've finished reading Panorama City. Bravo to Antoine Wilson for creating such an endearing, believable character!
Nov 07, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I am so excited that Antoine Wilson has another book out! Loved, loved, loved The Interloper and now a new novel. Review coming soon--reading the book first will help the review immensely.

Updated 5/24/13 I actually started to write a full review of this book some time back and to my utter horror and frustration--okay, just frustration--my computer ate the review; or I pushed the wrong button. "Pushing the wrong button" puts the onus on me, though,which is not acceptable, is it? Anyway, let's n
Oct 31, 2012 Carl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: My millions of followers
You have to give credit to an author whose narrator can shamelessly manipulate the reader, even when the reader knows it’s happening. Here, the device is quite similar to Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night; the narrator makes it clear he’s mentally challenged, but makes astute and humorous observations that clearly point the reader in certain ways, while using words, phrases, and lines of thought that realistically would be beyond his scope, even if he attributes many of them ...more
Ben Loory
Dec 20, 2013 Ben Loory rated it it was amazing
I have talked before about how the head gets filled with other people's words, how in sleep we transform those words and make them our own. The measure of a man's thinking is in how those words are transformed, the measure of a man's thinking is what he does with other people's words, they must penetrate him to the core, they must filter through his piled-up experiences and opinions, and they must return transformed. I didn't have this philosophy straight while at the Lighthouse Fellowship, it c ...more
Amanda Kay
Oct 18, 2012 Amanda Kay rated it it was amazing
If a review could be only one word, the word for this book review is: "Endearing." I fell in love with the main character quickly. In the first few pages as he describes Officer Mary's slumped shoulders in an array of similes. I love this novel, and this quote from it: "Life is long, even when it's short."
Sep 29, 2012 Edan rated it it was amazing
This book was a 4.65 star rating for me, but I am rounding up because--because, why not? Antoine and I are friends, and this book was so delightful and surprising, and sneaky-wise. One of the best first person narrators to emerge in the last 10 years: you will love Oppen Porter!
Chris Go
Oct 02, 2012 Chris Go rated it really liked it
I was really intrigued by this book because for about two years of my life (while in high school), I rode on a bus through Panorama City. It is the main character, Oppen, though, that really sucked me in. I had no idea where this mixed up adventure was heading, even though the summary in the jacket flap gave a few things away. One thing I can tell you for sure, is that I will never look at thumbtacks the same way again.

Much of the book is Oppen's thought process about the 40 days he spent in Pa
Kasa Cotugno
Aug 22, 2012 Kasa Cotugno rated it really liked it
Upon the death of his father, Oppen Porter finds himself uprooted from his childhood home where his innocence has been accepted. In a voice that resembles that of Forrest Gump, Oppen is narrating his story to his unborn son into a tape cassette, relating how he finds himself in Southern California in a life he has to navigate without much help from his aunt. The story is more about how the world looks to new eyes than anything else. His acceptance of 21st Century life refreshes it for a reader p ...more
Andd Becker
Oct 05, 2012 Andd Becker rated it it was amazing
Outstanding is the author's style. Oppen, the 1st person narrator, tape-records his life story for his unborn son. His analysis of persons and events is appealing.
Oppen is a self-proclaimed "slow absorber."
Outwardly, he appears to be unaware. But to his unborn son (and to the reader), he reveals, through explanations of his actions, that within his limited awareness there is keen perception. In his own way, Oppen possesses the gift of perspicacity.
A chance meeting (or was it a synchronicity
Cathe Olson
Sep 24, 2012 Cathe Olson rated it liked it
As 28-year-old Oppen Porter lays "dying" on his hospital bed, he tape records his version of the events leading to his anticipated premature demise, so his unborn son would know what happened.

I liked the unique premise of this story and I found Oppen's "voice" original and endearing, but unfortunately the book was just so-so for me. It was easy to put it down and it never really called to be picked up again--though I did finish the book. The story was enjoyable and the writing was good--it just
Harry Annan
Dec 04, 2012 Harry Annan rated it it was amazing
Quirky, brilliant story. Complex characters & interesting narrative voice...looking for more by this author.,
Jun 05, 2012 Ti rated it it was amazing
The Short of It:

Oppen Porter is probably one of my favorite protagonists since Owen Meany. In fact, you could say he’s a cross between Owen Meany and Forrest Gump. Witty, funny, brutally honest yet likable.

The Rest of It:

What a wonderful book. Where do I even start? You know it’s good when I can’t even formulate my thoughts.

After a mysterious accident, Oppen finds himself in a Madera hospital, in traction and on the verge of dying. Well, to HIM, the end is near which is why he is recording a let
Jenny Shank
Sep 01, 2013 Jenny Shank rated it really liked it
Becoming a man of the world: A Review of "Panorama City"

Oppen Porter is the irresistible narrator of Antoine Wilson's funny and winning second novel Panorama City, which takes the form of the life story Oppen records on tape for his unborn son.

Until Oppen was 27, he lived with his father, rode his "blue-flake three-speed Schwinn" everywhere, worked the occasional construction job, and everyone in the town of Madera, Calif. referred to him as "Mayor," even the actual mayor. Oppen, a "slow absorb
John Martin
Mar 28, 2013 John Martin rated it it was amazing
Without having read many reviews, it seems likely that an easy comparison for Oppen's character would be Forrest Gump - a curious, benevolent, simple man whose quest to become a 'man of the world' propels him through the lives of many different characters whose lives he changes in unexpected ways, and vice versa. But the more I read, the more I thought of Ignatius J. Reilly. Absent the harsh judgment of Reilly, but with an internal monologue of observation and reflection, adventures of both high ...more
Jason Edwards
Oct 23, 2012 Jason Edwards rated it liked it
There are two connotations of the word “idiot.” Panorama’s Oppen is not the willfully ignorant idiot, the one who holds intelligence in foul regard and ironically is proud of his stolid foundation. Oppen is the other kind of idiot, the one who’s guileless, more innocent than merely stupid. He’s the village idiot (his aunt’s words) and his “adventures,” although confined to a few small places, are a kind of modern picaresque.

Oppen doesn’t tilt at windmills, exactly, and is closer to a Sancho Panz
Dana Trumpower
Jul 12, 2013 Dana Trumpower rated it really liked it
I liked this story a lot. It was told from the point of view of a man who probably has some form of mild autism. He is socially awkward, but doesn't realize he is different and treated differently. His point of view is so innocent and also very black and white. He really only sees the good in people, except the people who don't make sense to him. The people in his life are so lost and confused, which is maybe why these people don't make sense to him. This novel presented a refreshing point of vi ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
A quirky, original book about a mentally challenged guy, who may just be smarter than everyone around him. Interesting characters, as well as landscapes and situations. There's a desert burial, a disheveled but compassionate cop, a strange bus trip, an overbearing aunt, a crazy man in an attic, a brothel, a fast food employee of the month, a religious cult, an ex-con and a beautiful fortune teller. Not to mention, the main character who's certain he will die at daybreak. All of this, and it's sn ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Brooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2013
I feel like how much you like this book will be largely based on how much you like the narrator and his voice. In the tradition of Room and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, the narrator doesn't grasp everything that is going on around him, that is left to the reader. Oppen Porter is the village idiot, his aunt's words, but certainly capable of carrying this narrative and dropping in some funny and clever observations here and there. I loved it from start to finish, even I did se ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Chet rated it it was amazing
Author Antoine Wilson creates a memorable character, a self-acknowledged "slow absorber" named Oppen Porter (with a little of Forrest Gump and a little bit of Owen Meany)who will resonate with me for a long time. His story of a forced-at-first, then more-accepting journey toward becoming a man of the world is well told and quickly read, and full of simple, yet deep life-affirming thoughts. I highly recommend this book!
Lisa Tener
Feb 02, 2013 Lisa Tener rated it really liked it
This book was a surprise. My husband had taken it out of the library but didn't read it. I started it and wondered myself whether I wanted to stick with it. I'm glad I did. It got better and better and I so enjoyed this refreshing character, Oppen Porter, reminiscent of Peter Sellers' character in Being There, but truly a man unto himself. Panorama City was heartfelt, entertaining, uplifting, witty, fun and time well spent. Enjoy.
Stephanie Steinberg
Mar 19, 2014 Stephanie Steinberg rated it did not like it
While this was a well written character study, the character described was of little interest to me. I also found the people he encountered to be quite dull. The descriptions of the book likened it to Forrest Gump. Sure, Forrest Gump if he never went anywhere or met anyone of interest and worked in a fast food restaurant! I kept waiting for something to happen but it never did.
Aug 13, 2012 Brooke rated it really liked it
A comical and endearing read. It took me a few pages to get used to the narration (a slightly stream-of-consciousness retelling, given that the narrator is recording his story via cassette tapes from his so-called deathbed), but once I was past that, I really enjoyed Oppen's take on life. The ending was beautiful.
Sep 26, 2012 Josie rated it liked it
Panorama City’s protagonist, Oppen Porter, brings to mind the Puerto Rican saying, “Cada persona es un mundo.” This guy’s a self-described slow-absorber who lives a weirdly interesting life that has an internal coherence and yet seems alien to the rest of us. He’s a guy you won’t forget.
Apr 17, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it
My 3 year old daughter handed me this book at the library and said, "read this". I'm glad she did! Very well told story! Oppen reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump. Open, lovable man of the world. I would recommend this quick read
Aug 19, 2012 Erica rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended ... also, for a Southern California fiction/nonfiction pairing, read it along with Holy Land by D. J. Waldie.
Cherie Suess
Jan 30, 2013 Cherie Suess rated it really liked it
Very unusual perspective of life portrayed in this book, through the mind of someone considered a simpleton. The main character has much to teach us.
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Did you feel the need to Label Oppen? 1 4 Feb 02, 2013 01:45PM  
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Antoine Wilson is the author of the novels Panorama City (HMH, fall 2012) and The Interloper (Other Press, 2007).

His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Best New American Voices, StoryQuarterly, and other periodicals. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and recipient of the Carol Houck Smith Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He is a contributing editor of A
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“With great freedom comes great responsibility, someone said once, well, it doesn't work the other way around.” 2 likes
“O: Are you asleep, mi amor?
C: [no response]
O: There is a spider on your face.
C: [no response]
O: That's a little trick, Juan-George, to make sure someone's really asleep. There's no spider.”
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