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The Last Fair Deal Going Down

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Survival has been the Sledge way since Reuben Sledge’s father first moved to Des Moines. Yet the family seems cursed, and one by one the Sledges are slipping away. Reuben’s oldest brother is hanged for the murder of his wife. Then another brother is committed to an asylum for spying on the woman he loves. But it’s the rape and disgrace of his beloved sister Nellie that dri ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Milkweed Editions
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this book probably just entered my life at the wrong time.

i had high hopes and good intentions and all those things that always end in successful partnerships with books.(does sarcasm read on the internet?)

after finally reading that maureen mchugh book last week, despite having had three of her books here for years and years, i thought to myself, "what other gems do i have lying around here - what other authors do keep buying without ever having read?" it came down to david adams richards and t
I honestly cannot figure out whether I liked this book or not. It's thoroughly, thoroughly weird, and is about six parts early John Irving family drama (think The Hotel New Hampshire, maybe), and four parts just plain bizarre and unsettling.

It's set in a fictionalized Des Moines, Iowa, which is pretty much like any Midwestern city, except that there is a huge pit in the center surrounded by a wall. The wall is marked with huge, ominous statues. Sometimes the statues open in order to let someone
John Isaacs
Since I first encountered this book in a K-Mart remainder bin in 1972 it has been one of my all time favorite novels and I have read it at least five times. I can certainly understand why some people react negatively to its bizarre plot and characters, but if you are interested in a dark journey, sans witches and wizards and modern fantasy foolishness, I think it is a worthwhile read. The story centers around Des Moines where Luther Sledge has brought his bride after leaving Wisconsin. He left a ...more
Jonathan Fretheim
Very different in style from both Driftless and Rock Island Line. This was Rhodes' first published novel, and I think it helps me to think of this as the writing of a young man, fresh from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Rhodes is very in control of his language and some later sections of the book are disorienting, difficult, but worth the effort. The novel is the story of a family, but it is also a way of explaining a worldview, a theory.

"The City" here--is it the dark side of any agrarian society?
This book is underrated. Many excellent passages throughout that bespeak a writer who is more than simply clever, but also in touch with something "more." Other reviewers have mentioned David Lynch as a touchpoint, which I never thought about but isn't that far off, actually, in the treatment of the unconscious; the touchstones that I thought of were Michael Lesy's excavation of early mid-west photographic history in Wisconsin Death Trip and, of course, Harry Smith's anthology of American Folk M ...more
There is nothing worse than finishing a book and feeling like your time has been wasted. Though I had high hopes for this book, The Last Fair Deal Going Down is ultimately guilty of this grave offense.

(As a warning, this review contains some spoilers, although in my opinion they are fairly minor, vague, and unsurprising ones.)

The Last Fair Deal Going Down is the story of the hardscrabble Sledge clan of Des Moines, Iowa. It is written as a first-person narration by Reuben Sledge, the youngest of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeri Mihm
I was intrigued by the back-story of this author, and was interested to see what kind of author he was. The beginning of the story kept me hooked, wondering what else could happen to this unfortunate family. I thought the concept of the City shrouded in fog was odd, but was willing to see where the story went.

Although Mr. Rhodes is a talented writer, the story just got weird. I think I get it, that the City is our own personal hell (or perhaps the dark side of one's psyche) but I was not impres
Molly Ewing
This early (1972) David Rhodes novel is interesting as a study of the writer's development. I can see elements that Rhodes uses more deftly and to better effect in later works-- the hardscrabble, working class family of eccentrics that never gets a break, the beauty and claustrophobia of small town life, the setting of classic themes (Dante's Inferno, the Odyssey) in an American landscape, the disturbing insanity at the core of each of us, the unreliability of the narrator and even the reality o ...more
At its best moments (not infrequent) this story is sometimes a little like Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and at other moments like David Lynch’s unfilmed screenplay Ronnie Rocket. In his first novel, David Rhodes does very well with concocting and extending outlandish scenarios. Regrettably, he either could not end--or simply had no interest in ending--them well. What’s more, a few times he simply pushes the limits of good taste. And this is all to say: there is a tremendous amount of raw im ...more
Gail Bolson
I did enjoy reading this book but it seemed the author is unable (or unwilling) to edit or filter his ideas. It seems if he had a thought, no matter what it was, it was thrown into the book, an "everything but the kitchen sink" mentality. I felt much like I feel at a Quentin Tarantino movie; there's just so much that after a while you become jaded and almost immune to the horrors shown. (I realize he was 22 when he wrote it so I will cut him some slack.) I plan to read "Driftless" soon and I do ...more
While I have really like David Rhodes before, this one is just too weird. A family moves to a city that has a "fog" in the middle, where people venture into and disappear and are never seen again. Right near the beginning the family loses their little daughter and it was just too depressing. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue just to see if they ever got her back. I lost all interest in it.
Katie Jean
As a fan of David Rhodes I really appreciated The Last Fair Deal Going Down. The intricacy and subtle ingenuity in this book were breathtaking. I am always blown away by his character development and monologues. Granted the story was a bit abstract, I found myself really forcing myself to just "let go" and allow the book to take me wherever it wanted.
Dear David Rhodes -
Let's chat. I am completely bewildered!
Yours in literary admiration,
Very interesting book. For Rhodes' first novel, I think it's a great first work.
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As a young man, David Rhodes worked in fields, hospitals, and factories across Iowa. After receiving an MFA in Writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1971, he published three acclaimed novels: The Last Fair Deal Going Down (1972), The Easter House (1974), and Rock Island Line (1975). In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him partially paralyzed. In 2008, Rhodes returned to the lite
More about David Rhodes...
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“He was inefficient in the old sense of the word; not incapable, but unwilling to be seduced by work--unwilling to be singleminded. Those things that needed to be done were constantly put off for those things that needed to be thought about. And unfinished projects did not pester him to be completed, but represented, in themselves, thoughts he had not finished thinking....” 1 likes
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