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Round Rock

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  228 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In a small town among the citrus groves in the Santa Bernita Valley, so the locals claim, nothing ever goes according to plan. "It's a great place to live, they say, if you like surprises: it's just like life, only different."

Certainly a number of Rito's inhabitants--fewer than a hundred in all--are surprised to be living here. Red Ray, for instance, a wildly alcoholic la
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Vintage (first published June 24th 1997)
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Community Reviews

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K2 -----
I went back to this novel after reading BLAME. I am always interesting in an author's first novel. It was rocky in many places and uneven. I stuck with it but I thought it needed much more editing. There were parts of the story that simple didn't belong and some things that were just a little too pat even for a first novel. It was published by Random House after all.

The author is obviously touched by alcoholism as this theme and sobriety runs through both of her books. This the tale of a fellow
Here's the last 50 pages made easier than it took to try to get through them before I gave up:

"It's the Circle of Liiiiiife
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Liiiiife."

Before that, this was a great novel, with characters worth getting to know and follow, and a fictional Southern California valley that feels like it could have been real, until it ran out of steam at that point and just drifted. How
If I read fiction, I would read Michelle Huneven. Don't be mislead by her last name, Michelle is
very ...even.
This is the third Huneven novel I've read--I started with Blame, then read Jamesland a little while later--and I understand this was her first, though it would've been hard to tell, her writing is so mature and elegant. It's set in the Santa Bernita Valley region of California, and her descriptions of the area and the little town of Rito are so eloquent that I could form a perfect picture of the citrus and avocado groves, the river, and the mountains in the distance; perhaps I was helped along b ...more
After enjoying "Blame" I wanted to read this one, too -- Huneven's first, and an award-winner. As with "Blame" the setting is almost its own character: California's Santa Bernita Valley and small town of Rito in this case. Clearly Huneven knows her way around alcoholism and recovery, since they are central to the plots of both books. In this one, it was a bit harder to get through the early chapters because it was hard to keep track of all the characters introduced. But it was worth the effort, ...more
Huneven has an amazing knack in this novel for turning alcoholic, addictive, jerk face, assholes into Shakespearean-ly lovable characters. My favorite is the support character of Sally Morrot, who never actually appears physically in the novel's action. I enjoyed the writer's sense of humor about human foibles as well as her intelligent and eloquent use of language. A wonderful, compassionate look at the human condition in all its messiness. A favorite quote:

" ' Grief seems to be a form of obse
3.5 stars. Hard not to rate this as a comparison to her later work. Can definitely see early glimpses of genius in this first novel.
Barry Bridges
Pretty decent, good story.
Full disclosure: I was lucky enough to be in a writing workshop with Michelle Huneven this summer, and she is awesome.

I'm always happy when a book actually surprises me, when there's a twist I don't see coming. That happened in this book and was great. I actually gasped! Michelle creates strong, believable characters and pulls you into their world so easily. Also, the vivid setting descriptions make me miss California terribly (what doesn't these days?). Enjoyable read, although I think I liked
I struggled through the first 75-100 pages. Normally, I wouldn't keep reading if I had so much trouble to begin with, but something kept me reading. I think most of it, however, was bias as I live in SoCal and am fascinated by the valleys. None of the characters felt relatable at first, then 1/3 of the way through suddenly felt flushed out. Especially Lewis, who took a sudden turn and felt human.

I'm glad I stuck it out, but all in all, it left a lot to be desired.
Kathleen O'Nan
Story of a drunk farm in Central California. Well written, great characters.
Really, really liked this book. Second Huneven book I've read in a row. It has a small town setting, people trying to change everything in their lives, healers, a rambling rehab center in an old victorian, fruit trees, and a nutty dog. Go forth.
Not as well written as Blame but another good one by Michelle Huneven. Set in California, it is about the lives of people entwined around a sober living facilty and how their lives intersect and affect each other and the community.
Joel Roberts
i would have liked this much more if i did not have to struggle through the first 100 pages, which were incredibly slow and boring. fortunately, the characters were fairly well developed, and the plot had a few interesting twists.
Liked it... Susan read it so I got it... really a 3 1/2 ... tough story, however, kept at it... interesting to read how tough it is to quit! and how hard it is to get going afterwards! would recommend even tho gave a 3
Joey Diamond
Pretty good tale of life in a small valley at a "drunk farm". Lotsa kinda cliche characters like the eccentric rich one, the ex-lawyer turned AA savior and the wise Mexican healer but it sucked me in enough.
Wonderful, wise novel about the lives of three people connected to a drunk farm in southern California. One of the best contemporary novels I've read in many years.
Almost inexplicably heartwarming. The writing is intelligent but unpretentious, and the characters, with their myriad of faults, really draw you in and make you care.
this book, along with her other book (Jamesland) explore the interactions of 4 extremely different characters. I guess I would recommend Jamesland over this.
Our book group choice for this month. I have had Jamesland on my to-read list for a long time and will definitely read it and Blame now
Hey Sailor!
young woman, older man
changed loyalties (billie, lewis) part I, II
setting - valley
So far pretty good. I liked her other book Jamesland. This also seems to have interesting, wacky characters.
Wonderful characters, honest and smart writing, a good story-- a terrific book.
Beautiful, beautiful story! Redemption and love, a perfect combination.
Susan Scott
Not quite as good as Jamesland but a pretty darn good book.
Edward Mccaffrey
Good story but theme and plot seemed to drag on.
Great characters and empathy, weak ending
Recovering alcoholics fall in love.
Aug 09, 2010 Mariya marked it as to-read
Jenni marked it as to-read
Mar 21, 2015
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I am the author of four novels.

I was born in Altadena, California just a mile from where I live now. I college-hopped (Scripps, Grinnell, EWU) and landed at the Iowa Writers Workshop where I received my MFA.

My first two books, Round Rock (Knopf 1997) and Jamesland (Knopf 2003), were both New York Times notable books and also finalists for the LA Times Book Award. My third novel, Blame, (Sarah Cri
More about Michelle Huneven...
Blame Off Course Jamesland Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition Dog is My Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World's Oldest Friendship

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