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The Black Brook

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  11 reviews
"It was a dry, dusty summer day in New Hampshire. Paul and Mary Emmons were having lunch in a diner called Happy's when Mary happened to notice a dog in a car in the parking lot with his head turned upside down." Thus begins the strange and captivating saga of Paul Nash, a.k.a. Paul Emmons, a fallen accountant whose inadvisable return to New England, the region of his crim...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published February 9th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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I first heard about this book while reading a review of Tom Drury's new novel "Pacific" by Daniel Handler in the New York Times. Handler was ebullient about "Pacific" but also made specific mention of "The Black Brook" as one of his personal favorites. So I went in predisposed to liking the book, and the premise was certainly intriguing. A Rhode Island accountant, Paul Nash, testifies against the local mob boss he's been helping to launder money, then he goes into witness protection, living unde...more
John Welsh
This deadpan masterpiece, a novel about a man assuming a new identity when he barely had an old one to give up, is the the best work of one of the greatest American writers your friends have probably never heard of.
This was his best shot at fame, accessible and funny with a pre-publication chapter dramatised on BBC Radio 4 no less, but it made no visible mark on the literary landscape when it landed and is more-or-less forgotten now. The problem may be that its plot elements make it sound populi...more
Sep 08, 2009 Spiros rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy inconsequetial narratives
Shelves: new, comicgenius
Talk about culture shock: immediately following a couple of months spent reading the Barchester Novels, with their intricately plotted, carefully resolved storylines, I come across this paean to rootlessness.
THE BLACK BROOK follows the erratic progress of accountant Paul Nash as he rats out the Providence Mob of Carlo Record, enters a witness protection program, moves to Spokane, moves to Belgium, recklessly returns to New England, abandons his wife, takes a job as a reporter, cuckolds his coll...more
This book follows the observations a self-decribed amoral man. "To be amoral was not to be evil but merely to march to a different drum." If you give up your expectations of the usual cause-effect, right-wrong axis most novels spin around, you might find this one to have a beautiful view.
I don't think I quite gave this book a fair shake. I read it over a few months, often just for a page or two at a time. Characters swirled around and I became too tired and lazy to look up who they were. Things happened, and then other things happened, but, at a certain point, I wanted them to stop happening so I could finish the book. Again, this has more to do with my current lifestyle and reading habits than it does the book, I'm sure. I was in a different place, literally and figuratively, w...more
The book's title comes from a Sargent painting - a painting a mob boss wants in his house. So Paul Emmons has to get it for him - but first we follow him through an Updike-ian journey through his past and the pasts of others. The weird and the funny sidle up to each other as the Godfather trope boils the plot. It's entertaining - it'll leave you scrambling for pen and paper to write Drury's aphorisms down. The opening scene about the freak-show dog is killer.
Mark Desrosiers
This starts out as a hilarious page-turner seemingly involving a con-man and his wife hiding out in New England. The aimless whimsy combined with odd hardboiled details had me grinning and laughing. Then I noticed that by part II the aimless whimsy completely takes over. Then a ghost appears. As I stumbled to the finish it was all just a migraine-inducing aimless whimsy fest.
Michael S like he had a contract to fulfill or is just not that good
Edward Gibbs
As much as I love Tom Drury, I found this book impossibly boring.
Feb 14, 2012 Mandy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: humor
the beginning had promise but the end bored me to tears
Written Valium I say
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Tom Drury was born in 1956. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Drury has published short fiction and essays in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Granta, The Mississippi Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. His novels have been translated into German, Spanish, and French. "Path Lights," a story Drury published in The New Yorker, was made into a...more
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