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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Based on the turn-of-the-century Panama scandal that involved the bribing of French officials for a trading company's control of the canal, this Paris-based story places American historian Henry Adams, grandson of the President, embroiled in the Panama affair andsearching for Miriam, a lost love of his life.
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
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
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"

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.
Charles Adkinson
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
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...more
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
Nov 07, 2007 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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.

"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."

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.
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.
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.
Tom Rosales
"well, you know how it turned out. Substitue cyanide for sea; and curtains of remorse for all the flying fish in heavan." Intriguing read
the end of this book-- the language, the moment, the delivery--(as throughout)--kills me. Beauty.
Nov 29, 2007 Griggette rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Peeps
Again, Hemingway meets Hunter S. Thompson. On the same shelf as "A Good Day to Die." Great read!
Panama is worth reading, but really strange. Get ready for an unreliable narrator.
Oct 23, 2007 Monica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Most Goodreads reviews are 4 or 5 stars so I won't toss it. .
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Ninety-two in the Shade The Bushwhacked Piano Nothing but Blue Skies Driving on the Rim Gallatin Canyon

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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.” 2 likes
“My life was the best omelette you could make with a chainsaw” 0 likes
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