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No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again
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No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  25 reviews
An epic novel of jazz, race and the effects of war on an American family
This sweeping drama of intimately connected families --black, white, and Latino-- boldly conjures up the ever-shifting cultural mosaic that is America. At its heart is Vidamí a Farrell, half Puerto Rican, half Irish, who sets out in search of the father she has never known. Her journey takes her from...more
hardcover, 656 pages
Published October 8th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2003)
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i hate hate hate hate hate this book. the writing itself is fine. i believe the author was a playwright and this was his first novel, and it's entertaining for sure. it's all exciting and something or other if you live on the lower east side now that gentrification has come and shat itself down. you can read all about how you wouldn't have survived for 13 seconds in your neighborhood just a short while ago. it is, however, too long. and too intro-to-___________ (black studies, critical race theo...more
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So far I love this! I am completely sucked in, the women are very well written and rounded (I was surprised when I realize the author's a guy!) and everyone is so fascinating that when it jumps from character to character I don't even play favorites and wish for the next jump--I am totally engaged with all of them. Too bad I'm only about 150 pages in and it's already overdue to the library....

UPDATE: I don't know what happened to old Edgardo, but about halfway through he forgets how to write goo...more
I was drawn to this book for it's many references to the Lower East Side where I live, but it's an incredibly engrossing book even if you don't give a crap about the setting.
I do not recommend but if you do read, I hope you enjoy the first 150 pages because after that the story goes down hill, the writing becomes incoherent and the sentences run on longer (like this one) and the characters become caricatures of themselves.

To give you a snippet of how bad it got, here is a paragraph from page 456 of the hardcover edition.

That night she made love to Barry wildly, devouring his mouth with such ardor that, although he enjoyed himself, he wondered what had come over his...more
This has to be one of the most amazing books I have ever read! Sprawling in scope, yet it kept my interest throughout its entire 790 pages. The story of Vidamía, Billy Farrell and their life and family was actually quite simple and probably could have been told in a lot less pages, but it definitely would not have been the same experience.

I guess some would say the story rambled – it provided detailed histories of many of the lesser characters and seemed to jump all over the place at times. How...more
Nikki Trahan
Interesting book. Although, I felt the author over-wrote. By midway thru, I found myself reading the book like a textbook: first sentence, last sentence, skip....get to the point! I also think that the subplots would have made this a better trilogy or series than a single tome. Language of some of the characters didn't see authentic...the Spanglish was captured well tho. Worth the read if only for the ending. Unfortunately, you have to sludge thru 500+ pages of literary loquacity that's inconsis...more
Oct 04, 2007 Sharon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers and lovers or jazz and/or NYC
Its 782 pages. Deal with it.

There is so much going on in this novel, it's hard to even think about where to start. Most of the book takes place on the LES and revolves around Vidamia, a real pistol of a teenager. Life is not easy for most of the characters--the narrative emotionally intense, romantic about old New York (and jazz) and makes you really miss the characters as soon as you're done reading it.

I <3'ed it--a good vacation book along the lines of THE BROTHERS K
Mary Beth
When I first picked up this book, I thought I'd never get through it, but the story and the characters grabbed me immediately. While sometimes Vidamia's conflicts felt a little like teen angst, the rest of the story, characters and setting are so engrossing and well written that it's overshadowed. I also enjoyed the references to music and the portrayal of the lifetime musicians who do it because they love it but never 'make it.'
Man, this was beautiful, except during that bit toward when it painfully wasn't, and the fact that it was in significant part about individual identity in multicultural contexts didn't even irritate me. Plus, it made me listen to a whole bunch of classic jazz and like it. You know how a book can do that for you, like it's lending you a whole facility for aesthetic appreciation that you never had before? Yeah, like that.
Found it really interesting for the first part - but had to stop by Goodreads to see if this long-winded style kept up through the rest of the book.
Honestly, I dont know yet if I like it or not, but its hard to put down :)

Liked the story of an Irish/Puerto Rican girl, very unsually written.
Feb 25, 2008 Connie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially New Yorkers but it is truly a good book
Recommended to Connie by: Heard author at 92nd Y
I heard him read at the 92nd St Y and was moved to read this book that goes back 150 years to after the Vietnam War. Parts are not as well written as I would like but it is truly a memorable book set in NY, both Scarsdale and the lower east side. It will stay with you
Jen Chau
Great story that weaved together the histories of multiple generations. Lots of character development for multiple characters made for a complex and rich story that sucks you in. Loved it, though very heart-breaking and violent at moments.
Pete Mackey
Beautiful, painful, wise, sprawling, and gripping all at once -- a masterfully done sweeping tale hung not on its grandeur but on the vividness and humanity of the interconnected stories of the full characters he creates.
Rebecca Cohen
a very well done book. the character development kept me interested for all 800 pages, even when terrible things happened. would highly recommend.
I loved this book! I read it years ago and had to rack my brain to come up with even a portion of the title so that I could do a search.
It is really good-- a lot of digressions and wandering prose, but fascinating. Good for people who like Jazz and experimental fiction.
This book is terrific tale of identity, family and American music. Also features one of the longest titles in American literature.
Jen Hitt
I picked up this book because it was the longest one I could find and I wasn't dissapointed. The descriptions of music are good.
I love this book! Vidamia is so unforgettable. Great family saga about multicultural America.
Porter Kelly
For some reason it took me FOREVER to read this book, but I really loved the characters.
So far this is one of the best books I hadn't ever heard of
Really long but interesting look at life in the US.
It is an eighties West Side Story with jazz.
Jennay Welrub
Jennay Welrub is currently reading it
Oct 24, 2014
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