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3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  417 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
"This is the first time I've worked without a net." The speaker is Chester Pomeroy, a washed-up rock star turned casualty of illicit substances and kamikaze passion. But we may also read these words as an aesthetic statement from Chester's creator, Thomas McGuane, who has made Panama a high-wire act of extravagant emotion and steel-nerved prose.

As he haunts Key West, peste
Paperback, 175 pages
Published November 29th 1979 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1978)
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I'm blaming my friend Tom the hoarder who generously calls himself a "collector" and whose house is an impassable dump full of flea-bitten cats for calling me at 2 am to tell me about his latest fucking rare LP acquisitions that his cats will pee on anyway and which I don't give a shit about which kept me from finishing this book at a more decent time and is forcing me to write a review that's going to be shittier than it should be because I can't write well at 3:40 am, as you are seeing. But it ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Books are powered by different engines. Some are plot-driven, some character-driven. Then there are those that are more impressionistic, tethered by language. "Panama" fits into this last category. McGuane's sentences crackle with wit. He's a master at combining high and low diction, proper nouns, slang and technical jargon into a poetry of sorts, reminiscent of Barry Hannah. This type of word-drunk writing is fine in the short form, and both Hannah and McGuane excel at the short story, but neit ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guilty-pleasures
For a long time McGuane claimed this was his favorite book---perversely, one suspects, because for a long time it was his most fiercely criticized. In fact, the book took such a critical drubbing when it appeared in 1978 that it pretty much whapped TMcG out of his "Captain Berskero" party mode and sent him back West to write with a new commitment to craft. I read this as part of a genre of Key West books for a Hemingway project I was doing, so it's hard for me to separate it from THE BUSHWACKED ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
The Goodbooks summary posted for this book has absolutely nothing to do with the book I remember reading --that's just how great this novel is. I read it late in my extended adolescence and it was a perfect summary of my life strategy. Wasted youth is wasted upon the wasted young.

"The Dog Ate the Part We Didn't Like"

Jul 22, 2008 Jess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With grit and beauty reminiscent of Hemingway, Thomas McGuane writes with an unparalleled flair for imagery. This book at once gripped me and tore me to pieces.
Jan 23, 2015 Mickey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The dog ate the part we didn't like.
Jan 29, 2015 Gabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is McGuane's fourth novel, and the one that, depending on how you look at it, perhaps derailed his career (his previous book, "Ninety-Two in the Shade," was his most successful yet, and was a National Book Award Finalist). Apparently, in 1978, readers of McGuane wanted and expected his fourth book to take his style and form in a new direction, and instead they got "Panama," which is a lot like his first three books--at 175 pages, it's basically a crystallization, stripped-to-the-essential e ...more
Aug 26, 2008 A.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, literary, x
Chester Hunnicut Pomeroy, a washed-up rock star, returns home to Key West and tries to win back the good graces of his love, Catherine. His memories are fragmented and the local cops have it in for him. And although he wants to make good, he just can't stop being himself.

Panama is McGuane's only novel written in the first person, and marks a break between his early novels (The Sporting Club, The Bushwhacked Piano, 92 in the Shade) and his Montana novels. Its overall critical reception wasn't war
Charles Adkinson
Apr 25, 2013 Charles Adkinson rated it liked it
This is nonsense, but I say that endearingly because it's McGuane's nonsense, which is by and large what I've just come to expect from him, and Panama is McGuane at his most nonsensical. I got into his books because so many were set in Montana and featured aimless male narrators who kind of kicked zanily around their small towns and caused trouble for the people in their lives. Panama is similar, except it takes places in Key West. Though I've never been to Key West, I've lived in Florida, and e ...more
Frances Coles
Jan 23, 2015 Frances Coles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read a really fun, flashy, American kind of book - but a smart book, too - so I picked this one. I liked it; the ending is unexpectedly moving. You don't believe in this character, really - like, how did this person end up becoming a world-famous rock star, exactly? - but it seems you're not really meant to believe in him as a person, more as just a voice. And it's a great voice, if a little too clever by half sometimes, so I pretty much bought it. There's a fun, hardboiled quality a ...more
Nov 07, 2007 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who can see thru other people's addictions
Shelves: fiction
So yes, there are people like my mother who will read the first two pages of this and toss it aside as a drug book. A bloody shame. This book has the chewiest diction of any other book I know, and it does things with the English language that you probably thought were against the rules.

The story is pretty good, the characters a handful, but I read it more for the language. Maybe this is what Lolita would be like if Nabokov did a bunch of blow and lost a bar fight immediately before writing. Outs
Aug 12, 2007 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"I am both a liar and a forgetter. Moreover, I feel it in there, a streak of something that's never gotten any satisfaction."

"But do it my way. Admit to yourself that you wasted so much of your life that not enough of it can be saved to matter. Then pull into yourself far enough that you can stand it and hang on until it's over."

"I was beginning to sense that the night had written a check that daylight couldn't cash."

Nathan Truong
Panama (1979) by Thomas McGuane is about a coke-induced loser that attempts to get back with his girlfriend. It's one of the strangest books I've read thus far, but it's absolutely filled with the most raunchiest, nonsensical humor that made me smirk and wince. There are moments of short-lived empathy, but I will say that I couldn't help but read the last page several times over and over. This book is that one gem at the bottom of your jewelry box you only wear inside the house.
Nov 01, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird and impossible to follow, but, still, somehow, in some impossible to explain way, compelling and engaging. I'm not really sure what the hell was happening with this little book, but it leaves an impact. The sense of place -- Key West in the seventies -- comes through not so much in precise details, but in a general slouching, debauched, damp vibe. Even though I can't say why I liked this, I felt compelled to immediately launch into McGuane's Ninety-two in the Shade.
Apr 26, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chet's self-destruction and delusion were hard for me to buy at times, even for a washed up rock star. Occasionally some really funny moments. I wanted this book to end several times while reading, but it somehow left me wanting more at the end.
Nov 14, 2011 Spiketea rated it it was amazing
The description is for the wrong book, in case anyone was wondering. A great novella on the lies, delusion and trickery of the late American Empire. 'Floating in my own invention." The ending is a killer, and like all of McGuane's work it revolves around fathers dead and alive.
Tom Rosales
Oct 07, 2011 Tom Rosales rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"well, you know how it turned out. Substitue cyanide for sea; and curtains of remorse for all the flying fish in heavan." Intriguing read
Eric Rickert
Nov 25, 2014 Eric Rickert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Contemporary fiction as RPG video game. Or not: I never really felt *in it* somehow.

Really, really beautiful language, tho.
Erik Wyse
Feb 06, 2016 Erik Wyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGuane's inventive prose here paints a unique, black as night comedy that never fails to draw the reader into it's twisted reality.
Jul 26, 2011 Eraserhead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, vibrant, yet repetitive---a funny experiment in voice and perception, with a hangdog narrative based around a down-and-out rocker's drug-addled thoughts.
J.L. Byers
J.L. Byers rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2011
Jason rated it really liked it
Mar 14, 2017
Tom McDade
Tom McDade rated it it was ok
Jun 16, 2013
Michael Brady
Michael Brady rated it it was amazing
May 16, 2007
Gregory rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2016
Colter rated it liked it
Jun 24, 2010
Michael Scotto
Michael Scotto rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2011
Americana rated it liked it
Feb 02, 2015
Patrick Hennessy
Aug 28, 2007 Patrick Hennessy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack rated it liked it
May 10, 2012
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“The occupational hazard of making a spectacle of yourself, over the long haul, is that at some point you buy a ticket too.” 5 likes
“My life was the best omelette you could make with a chainsaw” 2 likes
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