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3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,851 Ratings  ·  340 Reviews
Warren Spooner was born after a prolonged delivery in a makeshift delivery room in a doctor's office in Milledgeville, Georgia, on the first Saturday of December, 1956. His father died shortly afterward, long before Spooner had even a memory of his face, and was replaced eventually by a once-brilliant young naval officer, Calmer Ottosson, recently court-martialed out of se ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 24th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)
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Liza Martin
May 03, 2013 Liza Martin rated it really liked it
So many other readers gave "Spooner" harsh reviews, but I thoroughly enjoyed Pete Dexter's storytelling. Don't get me wrong, as a writer this man can definitely create a compelling sentence, but he is a bona fide storyteller -- and there is a difference.

True, nothing really "happens" in this novel. There is no major "problem" or even a turning point in the book. It is simply the story of a more or less likeable American guy who more or less stumbles through a mediocre life, but you keep turning
Laura Stone Johnson
Nov 13, 2009 Laura Stone Johnson rated it liked it
Pete Dexter is a talented writer and with Spooner he’s created a rambling, witty, expansive story (and character) that brings both delight and consternation to the reader. From the day he was born Warren Spooner has been fighting his way through life, always living in the shadow of his stillborn twin -- his mother’s favorite. Surrounded by brilliant siblings Spooner stands out as the troubled child who never ceases to amaze in his ability to make the wrong choice. From petty thievery to star pit ...more
Aug 30, 2011 Roger rated it liked it
I used to read Pete Dexter's columns in the Philly Daily News in the 1970s (I bought it because of the great sports writing, but when I discovered Dexter there was another reason to read it). I then read all of his books, believing them to be better than the columns. Therefore, I was really looking forward to his semi-autobiography. I actually bought it a year ago and wanted to savor its reading at the right time. So a cross-country car trip turned out to be the right time. Yes, I was disappoint ...more
Jun 01, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it
His sister asks Spooner, "Had he thought about therapy? . . .It would be like picking up a hitchhiker on the interstate without slowing down," Spooner responds. That captures the rambling episodic nature of this story of a man who comes close to self-destructing any number of times. Almost any episode of his life would be enough material for a lot of novels, but SPOONER doesn't slow down enough to examine any single one of them in therapeutic detail. It just races ahead to the next crisis in Spo ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, right off, that I've been looking at Pete Dexter's sentences for a long time, and thinking,, "wow, so that's where those words really belong". Also, by confession, I grew up in the Philadelphia that Dexter writes about quite often. I read his Daily News columns when they were new. And I remember the pictures from the hospital bed that appeared in the paper of Pete, and boxer Tex Cobb,(aka Stanley Faint) in the aftermath of the true to life adventures in Devil's Pocket. (which a ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathy by: Accolades on back cover & I'd read "Paris Trout"
Making room on my Shelf of Honor for this one!

Some favorite lines:

'He [Arlo] never asked what had happened, just let Calmer tell him about it in his own time, his own way. Arlo was everyone's favorite, and there were reasons for that.' (41)

"And Spooner knew that something terrible had happened, or nearly happened, not because the Ford had rolled down the hill but because Calmer had gone crazy inside, not knowing what to do about him [Spooner]." (122)

"Losing your marbles was an expression pleasin
Jan 17, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Dexter writes this novel in a very easy voice. Not at all rushed or forced, it just lets the story unfold. It is a voice that pulls me in as a reader, makes me lean in to listen better.

It's a great story, too. Humorous and emotional, really great style on the humor.

What I think I like best, though, is how Dexter handles Spooner as a child. It really is marvelously done. It comes across more as someone watching Spooner, but you still get a good look. He captures Spooner's child confusion well.
Bill Khaemba
On my decision to read something different, I chose this weird book that ended up being one amazing read...

Pete Dexter's writing style is quite interesting and humorous, I felt like he was reading me a bedtime story and it was so good that I didn't want to sleep. The concept that surrounds this book is a coming of age story around a boy named Spooner and his former navy Step-father Calmer, we follow their relationship,trials,mischief and get introduced to funny characters along the way... I ha
Jenna Vinson
Jan 03, 2016 Jenna Vinson rated it it was ok
I liked the storytelling and many of the characters, but once I noticed that his wife had no name but "Spooner's wife," "Spooner's woman," "Mrs. Spooner" and, on more than one occasion, "the woman with the elegant bottom," that was hard to get past. His daughter's cat is named Witlowe. His daughter is named "Baby Spooner" or "Spooner's daughter."

It was whatever. I finished it because I don't like not finishing books. Spooner's story was interesting, and Calmer's was deeply engaging for me, but o
I felt super-fortunate when I found the ARC to this title at a consignment shop, only weeks after the hardcover was released. This book was getting a lot of media hype, and Dexter was 3 years overdue on his contract in getting this one out, so I was really looking forward to it. In the ARC he includes a letter to the reader, apologizing that this may be the roughest ARC ever distributed, and he's not exaggerating. There are so many typos, repeated phrases, run-on sentences and other grammar horr ...more
Aug 08, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of quick wit and quirky life events with redeemable characters
Definitely liked "Spooner" a bit more than the 4-star allowance. Dexter's writing is fluid, funny, and puts you write in the moments. Spooner is a sweet guy, someone you may not think is all there when looking at him. Nonetheless he's a good person that succeeds in life on the chance that he does what he thinks is best and never takes things too seriously or personally.

"Spooner" follows his life from birth to adulthood and that of his stepfather Calmer Ottossom (one of the greatest men he ever k
Sep 10, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it
In this book's Acknowledgements, Pete Dexter admits to basing this novel on his own life's experiences. The book is funny, sad, and confusing, but not all in the same places. However, through it all, Dexter proves that he can turn a phrase better than most writers, dead or alive.

Warren Spooner, the book's title character, is born in 1956 to a mother who never quite grows to love or understand him. A mother who is described as being only happy twice in her life ("the night JFk was elected presid
Sep 15, 2011 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, dexter
up to page 45 or so, after the burial-at-sea. comic. dexter has a fine way w/words. says something? that a burial-at-sea can have any comic elements? i'm reminded of my...mother's burial, maple hill...grandma decided she needed to sing a song and my uncle bonehead cracked a grin.
course, i didn't see it, my bro told me about it.

too, i read the acknowledgement...correction....i read parts of it. like maybe 1%. heh! he talks/writes about padgett powell, still there at the university of florida, fa
Bonnie Brody
Mar 05, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed in this book by a writer that I admire very much. The author of Paris Trout (Contemporary American Fiction), Deadwood, Train and other fine books, has not held up to his greatness with 'Spooner'.

'Spooner' seems more like an outline, a collection of caricatures that do not connect over the whole. The novel is lengthy and was difficult to read mostly because it just did not grab me in any way. There is no character that stands out on his or her own or that seems real. I got
Jun 27, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing
I recently read the brilliant Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo, and this is a similar character-led barnstormer of a novel, full of table-slapping humour, built from Dexters' easy-on-the-ear prose. The writing style is playful, conversational, instantly accessible, and hugely enjoyable, like hearing an old friends' anecdotal reminiscences over a cold beer.
Unlike the charismatic slacker Sully in Russo's novel, Spooner is a more troubled and tormented soul, prone from an early age to the pleasurabl
May 07, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
There were so many times I laughed out loud reading this book- Dexter really has a way with words. The author's bio and acknowledgments section are hilarious in and of themselves. I agree with other reviewers that the stories seem a bit disjointed. And it ran on in some places, but Dexter has some great story-telling- my favorite parts were: the at-sea funeral debacle in which the coffin containing a high-profile politician does not sink as his widow looks on; the marriage of Lily and Calmer in ...more
Jul 29, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing
The first sentence of this book, which goes on and on and on about the unusual circumstances of Spooner's birth, is one of the greatest openings ever. The first sentence of chapter 3 is equally impressive, describing the death of a rotund elected official who decided to stand up from his exclusive seats on the 50-yard line at Memorial Stadium during the third quarter of the Army/Navy football game and who keeled over dead on his wife's lap, which indirectly sets in motion the connection between ...more
LeeAnn Heringer
The back cover of this book promises so much: vitality, funny, anecdotal, profound. And yet, it failed to charm me. Kindergartners expelled for getting boners and litters of mice being roasted when reprocessed cars catch on fire, being permanently crippled in bar brawls and a dog eating his master's grandson just didn't strike me. I guess it's the kind of novel where you have to be in the right mood, in the right black humor where the world is against you and you're the dumbest guy in the room, ...more
Tracy Thompson
Aug 25, 2012 Tracy Thompson rated it liked it
I read Paris Trout 20 years ago, and thought that nobody--not even Harper Lee or Flannery O'Connor--had ever captured so well what it was like to grow up in the South of the 1950s and 60s. (I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, but in a little patch of the South which lagged about 15 years behind everywhere else, so it was old home week for me).

Frankly, Spooner isn't as good as Paris Trout--but when you can write like Pete Dexter, that doesn't mean it's not a great book. I suspect there are big hunks
Jun 30, 2011 Lissa rated it really liked it

As odd as Spooner is he is all of us, or at least one feels a sympathetic kinship with the poor misfit.

The story of Spooner is funny, painful and pathetic but not exactly depressing. The prose is well crafted and well honed to best convey the character
Of Spooner in such a way so as to make us love him and yet feel sorry for him.

It reminds me of John Irving's writing in that the author relates idiotic tragedies that befall stange people in outlandish situations without burying us in pathos but st
Apr 14, 2014 Sheri rated it really liked it
I liked it. I also liked Paperboy, but have yet to read Paris Trout. Dexter reminds me of Russo and Watson. He writes about people my parent’s age (born in the mid-fifties) growing up in rural areas. His tone is rather dark, but apt and oftentimes funny.

I think my biggest complaint about this book was that despite the title and the great description of Spooner: “on top of trespassing, spying on his mother from trees, lying, sneaking out of the house, and being sexually unfit for kindergarten, Sp
May 19, 2010 Angela rated it it was ok
I can't say that I hated this book because I just didn't care enough about the characters or the story to get that emotionally vested in this. The last line pretty much summed it up "we are right back where we started." I don't feel as if I got a grasp of any of these characters or what they were thinking, their motivations etc. Everytime it seemed to be headed in the direction of coherency it took a turn for insanity.
Nov 05, 2010 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: u-s-lit
There is nothing wrong with being entertained and Pete Dexter is a very entertaining writer. Spooner is at times laugh out loud funny. The imagined scenarios are funny enough, but best is the language of the storytelling and the wry observations nestled within. And yet, the stories seemed cobbled together, often lacking a segue or explanation. Still, this is Dexter's best book since Paris Trout.
Elizabeth Kennedy
Apr 17, 2014 Elizabeth Kennedy rated it it was amazing
This may be one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is the story of one man's life and his relationship with his world. It starts the day Warren Spooner is born alongside a dead twin, the result of hours of the worst labor anyone had ever seen. His dead twin secretly becomes his mother's favorite child as she could carry on the mourning for him and gather sympathy forever. Warren's father does not attend the birth because he is dying. What follows is the story of Spooner's life, inc ...more
Mar 26, 2010 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: benicia, 2010
The first half of this book was so good that it almost hurt; the second half of the book was more difficult for me to enjoy since it made me achy, due to the masterful descriptions of injuries and medical experiences.
Apr 09, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
At first I thought I wouldn't like this book, mostly due to its very masculine nature. But it grew on me, and I ended up experiencing it as a master description of life and the quirks that make us human and lovable.
Jan 16, 2010 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I couldn't have loved this book more if Pete Dexter had written it especially for me. Funny, moving, and profound. Now I guess I need to go read the rest of his books...
Oct 17, 2009 Joye rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, so quirky & honest!! I also loved Paris Trout, gotta read his other books.... would definitely recommend.
Don Gorman
Jan 29, 2014 Don Gorman rated it liked it
This book was quite a roller coaster ride. Crazy at the start, a little snoozy in the middle, and terrific at the end. Dexter spins quite a yarn here, and you can't help but get really attached to all the different and truly wierd personalities that Spooner exhibits. His wonderful stepfather, Calmer, his incredibly brilliant siblings and his moderately nutso Mother are also great characters that we become very familiar with. Besides, you can't help but like a guy who loves dogs the way that Spoo ...more
Timothy Riley
Sep 08, 2014 Timothy Riley rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun-novels
There are so many hilarious metaphors in the book that come out of nowhere. Everyone can relate to be a bit like Spooner in some way or another, especially guys who knew they went through a period where everything went wrong. Spooner is a lucky man for having certain people in this life and I don't get why so many write him off, but I guess that's part of it; he picks people who he has no chance of mesmerizing. His relationship with the boxer was my favorite because of how crazy it is; Spooner d ...more
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Pete Dexter, b.1943, is the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Paris Trout and five other novels: God's Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, The Paperboy, and Train. He has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee, and has contributed to many magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. His screenplays include Rush and Mulholland Falls. De ...more
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“Spooner noticed another, smaller Marine Corps tattoo encircling Marlin's ankle: Semper Fi Forever. Everywhere he went these days, Spponer witnessed America's crying need for more copy editors.” 2 likes
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