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Strange Cowboy: Lincoln Dahl Turns Five

4.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  23 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
"Sam Michel is such a smart, manic, virtuosic stylist . . . the kind of deep insights that make you suddenly and newly appreciative of the world around you."--George Saunders

"There was a hot, high sun, a hard ground and a long way off to any certain water, and my wife, a tenderfoot, I thought, not immodest, seemed bent on ruined feet and spectacle, on making of herself to
ebook, 200 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Tyrant Books (first published November 13th 2012)
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Oct 15, 2015 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every breaking wave
Recommended to Dolors by: Proustitute
Shelves: read-in-2015
Nevada, Christmastime. Lincoln Dalh sits transfixed in his favorite chair and muses over his life. The past creeps up on his present and seizes him into inaction. He stares at the strangers who claim to be his family with growing disbelief, trying to discern something of him in them, and failing. His sick mother, his clubfooted child, his distanced wife. How did he come to be father, son and husband? He doesn't recognize any of the persons he has become, he is swamped in a quicksand of unsummone ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Proustitute
Give us a narrator, name him Lincoln Dahl. Have him regale us with stories of his life. Which Lincoln Dahl? No, not the senior, for we know he is not among us, and his agrarian myths ring true. Not the youngest, for we know his story will be more reliable, even at the tender age of four on the eve of five. Give us THAT Lincoln Dahl, the one who understands the tale to be told must be precarious in its gossamer fragility. Its unreliability can collapse at the flutter of air from a passing sparro ...more
It's work, remembering.
What a brilliant novel by an erudite, unique prose stylist. Sam Michel's prose is truly the star here, weaving in and out of time, memory, dreams, fantasies, and regrets. With precision, Michel mixes extremely long clauses—at times reminiscent of Faulker—with short, terse sentences closer in timbre to Beckett and Hemingway. But Michel is a stylist all his own, moving from high registers to lower, dialect-driven segments, always dazzling and puzzling the reader, in contro
Stephen P
A fine novella well deserving of five stars. Then it continued on past a little before the halfway mark. Until then we sit with a man in his chair, withdrawn from his life. He speaks to himself and thus to us, the rapt reader, caught in a haunting poetic prose, unequaled in its searching cadence-remembrances of how Coltrane circled towards the center through the spirit of his tenor sax-its spare reach toward a resolution just beyond grasp. His emotional estrangement from his wife, his young dama ...more
Mike Young
Apr 12, 2013 Mike Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
from NOÖ [14]:

Read this in the dark in my apartment, except I shouldn’t say dark because I could see the lights from the parking garage. But they weren’t lights like what falls down a Nevada canyon or seethes through creosote bush, which is light this novel knows a lot about. Also demanding mothers and mute sons and visionary wives. Remember Beckett? Then here you go: Beckett on the range, cowboy Beckett, dandy bolo tie Beckett, and some of the most beautiful desert river sentences and heart sil
Oct 13, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some fantastic prose here - beautifully crafted and, as a father of a three year old son, had much to say to me.

I suspect, had I read it at a less busy and stressful time for me it would have been a 5 star read, but, as it is, there were times in the back half my attention wandered, and my interest and pleasure waned. I had that frustrating feeling of words simply falling into a black pit in my brain, never to see the light of day again. Maybe I should just read some trash until my mind gets it
M. Sarki

"There are two moments worthwhile in writing, the one when you start and the other when you throw it in the waste-paper basket."___Samuel Beckett

There has been mentioned, in some bit of negative light, that Sam Michel basically lost his prop and his steam during the second half of the book, that is after he had faced his objects honestly and had for some readers no more to say. I personally do not have any problem with Michel continually circling his objec
Lorelei Armstrong
I read a lot. I read 150 books a year on average. I read because I'm looking for something. I'm looking for a story I haven't already read 150 times. I'm looking for a story populated by actual humans, not with acceptable cut-out facsimiles. Most of all I am looking for voice. It's the rarest tool a writer can carry, even in literary fiction, which is the majority of what I read. This book delivered on every score. I hope Sam Michel is writing as fast as he can, because I am reading as fast as I ...more
Full Stop

Review by David Winters

Unpublished until now, Strange Cowboy was the first novel ever written by Sam Michel, author of 2007’s Big Dogs and Flyboys and, over twenty years ago, the seminal short story collection Under the Light. Michel is married to another innovative author, Noy Holland, and like her, he was taught and initially edited by Gordon Lish. As with many students of Lish, the influence of Michel’s mentor looms large over his prose: every sentence
Robert Kloss
Jan 31, 2013 Robert Kloss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Within a few sentences it becomes very clear that Sam Michel is one of the more talented prose writers currently working in America.
Had Samuel Beckett engendered a bastard child with Cornac McCarthy rather than drive Andre the Giant to school (or maybe during?), this here would be the product.
Cameron Taylor
I struggled with the incredibly dense (yet beautiful) prose but when it clicked it was brilliantly insightful. Definitely one to read again someday.
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