Driving on the Rim
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Driving on the Rim

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  416 ratings  ·  92 reviews
From one of America’s most acclaimed literary figures (“an important as well as brilliant novelist”—The New York Times Book Review) a major new novel that hilariously takes the pulse of our times.

The unforgettable voyager of this dark comic journey is I. B. “Berl” Pickett, M.D., the die of whose uncharmed life was probably cast as soon as his mother got the bright idea to...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Knopf (first published 2010)
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Nancy Freund
There's so much more going on with this novel than at first appears. The story arc is skeletal, even anecdotal, at first, but each subsequent vignette reveals a deeper understanding of the complexity of the protagonist -- a small-town Montana doctor who would be reluctant to allow such personal revelation. The reader almost has to wrestle the undercurrents from the first-person narrator. His neglectful parenting by a mother obsessed with fundamentalist Christianity and a father obsessed with his...more
Alex V.
I heard that in years past, pigs were drawn into the slaughterhouses of the Chicago stockyards by hooks attached to their noses. A pig is a smart animal, but this placed the decision elsewhere. It was in this spirit I headed once more to White Sulfur Springs to pay a call on Jocelyn Boyce. (Ch. 14)


Napoleon said that if it weren't for religion the poor would kill the rich. (Ch. 15)

The library's Overdrive system up and deleted Driving on the Rim right out from under me upon the due date, or ra...more
I think that Thomas McGuane is an indisputably talented writer. He has a unique authorial voice and can write crisp sentences that seem to possess fundamental truths. Having said that, I simply didn’t enjoy “Driving on the Rim.” The Dickensian catalogue of characters and narrative wordplay were fun to juggle for a while; however, the novel felt heavy and overstuffed. Now, let me say, I don’t mind working through a novel; however, I don’t want a novel to feel like work.

“Driving” will definitely a...more
Michael Williams
Not my kind of book. Here we have a flawed character, a doctor who is sidelined by a malpractice sort of thing, This gives him much time on his hands to think about his multitude of problems. As a doctor he is very compassionate, professional, and caring. As a human he doesn't know how to deal with people. I found his stupid behavior exasperating and this definitely colored my thoughts about the book. I finished it, but it was a struggle.

High points? I enjoyed the lovingly composed descriptions...more
Andy Miller
The novel takes place in thinly disguised Livingston Montana and features a doctor who was born in the town to poor parents who lived on the edges of society and came back to the town after finishing medical school. The novel includes flashbacks to his childhood with his current life which appears to revolve around alcohol, womanizing, fishing and attempts at old fashioned country doctoring that conflicts with the other doctors and owners of the medical clinic that employs him. The flashbacks to...more
Joel Brown
Just read this latest by a guy who was one of my favorite authors when he was young and crazed. I think he's been more hit and miss for the last twenty years or so, now that he's settled and sober. It's kind of a rock and roll career arc more than a novelist's.

Driving on the Rim is my favorite since Nothing But Blue Skies. Another Montanan lead character who's having a hard time keeping it together, this time a doctor whose nutso family - Christian itinerant carpet shampooers - and hardscrabble...more
I'd read a couple of Mcguane short stories and absolutely loved them before deciding to try one of his novels. I was pretty disappointed. Driving on the Rim takes place in a small Montana town. Like Richard Russo's Empire Falls, the town is full of a cast of intriguing small town characters: simple folk, lawyers, cowboys, doctors. And like Russo, I found that Mcguane was just a little too impressed all the details of the world he created. Sure he is a phenomenal writer, but I don't need full par...more
Dark, funny but also very true to life. An intimate view into the life of a man who crosses the class barrier in a small town in Montana. Dr Berl Pickett is a quirky character who despite his indiscretions and lapses of judgment is quite engaging. The reader can relate to what he says about his life and the paths taken or not taken. We see a man taken to introspection as he walks through the West of his past and the present. He succumbs to his urges and is unrepentant. He can not see the love of...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Incisive and droll, this picaresque comedy delighted the critics with its exceptional prose, quirky, well-developed characters, and sharp insights into modern-day life. McGuane may infuse this serious exploration of contemporary moral questions with witty observations and deadpan one-liners, but as a mature and confident novelist, he is careful not to dull the edges of his inquiries. A few critics had reservations, including a meandering plot and some discontinuities in characters and timelines....more
 Barb Bailey
After 9 chapters of this book , I have given up on it. This story is about Irvin Berlin Pickett, who is a physician in a small community in Wyoming. He is emotionally immature , has no morals, and makes poor choices. He goes from one chosen misfortune to another. Occasionally the author writes a line or two that give pause and says to me...this author can write. But for me, this story needs to be more interesting and better organized. This author introduces too many characters and their story go...more
May 02, 2011 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Justin by: Dad, Anthony N.
My first foray into McGuane's fiction and it was definitely worthwhile. It starts off with a hilarious run, by the end, both the story and the narrator have become more serious. McGuane does a great job using the comic (without reaching the absurd) not only to set a tone, but also to develop more serious ideas and emotions (as if the comic isn't serious).
Gregg Sapp
Reading Thomas McGuane’s “Driving on the Rim,” I found myself wondering if and in what ways his original manuscript of this work was edited. I can imagine any editor committed to the maxim that it is essential to eliminate all unnecessary verbiage would be severely challenged by McGuane, who meanders gleefully from one fleeting observation to the next, such that some of this book’s most memorable passages are found in digressions. Among the unnecessary characters are the first-person, physician...more
I. B. “Berl” Pickett, M.D., named after Irving Berlin, did not grow up in normalcy. He endured the spectacle of Pentecostalist Sunday worship; the accompaniment of his parents on their rug-shampooing business; the technical advancement and emotional retardation that ensued from his erotic initiation at the hands of his aunt. What would have become of this soul had he not gone to medical school, thanks to the surrogate parenting of a local physician and solitary bird hunter? Weird novel, not very...more
Ali Murphy
I loooved this book. It was thoroughly entertaining. It was in turns darkly hilarious, insightful, cringe-inducing, profound and utterly real. I say the last especially as McGuane makes a note in his foreword of saying that this is a work of fiction and as such it should be taken with a grain of salt. Truth, it has been said, is stranger than fiction and McGuane comes so very close to the truth that it is a little unnerving. He has drawn a character in Berl Pickett that is full of people I know....more
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I debated between a 3 star and a 4 star rating on this one, but ultimately decided to be generous. The tipping point is probably this quip near the middle of the book: "Nowadays, experiences came at me like bugs hitting the windshield. I wasn't sure I could keep up. Of all the mysteries of life, nothing was more mysterious than the return of happiness. I was willing to wait."

As we follow Pickett in this not always chronological episodic novel that holds together only a bit tighter than a series...more
I haven’t read McGuane probably since the 1980s. For awhile in the 70s and 80s, I was quite taken with his prose, his associations with Hemingway (Michigan, fishing, Key West), his lyrically precise natural descriptions and his sly, deft dialogue, but then grew inured to its charms. It grew predictable and the wit turned, it seemed to me, not sour but glib; so I kept buying new McGuane novels but stopped reading them. But I’d picked up this 2010 novel a few years ago and on impulse (maybe it was...more
Reading a book by Thomas Mcguane is often a time consuming a affair. His writing style is not for situations where there are stimulus or distractions around you as there are usually enough of these in his stories. I do like his books but I need to insert them in between about 100 other books, before I have the fortitude to get through one.
Tho,as McGuane books are NOT for people who:
1. Are looking for a quick read
2. People you want to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time.
I am always in a hurry to get my hands on a new McGuane book.
I started reading "Driving on the Rim" as soon as I got it home, but after 50 pages, I found myself thinking that this was a misfire and that the old McGuane magic would not work this time. However, little by little that feeling shifted and morphed into my usual fascination, and of course the novel turned out to be fun, fun, fun... like always.
Mc Guane's novels are formulaic, there is no doubt about that; no matter how old, how educate...more
ron swegman
Driving on the Rim is a character-driven novel that encompasses a full life: the life of Montana doctor, Irving Berlin Pickett. McGuane has artfully crafted a collage of a plot, rendered along an unpaved road, complete with a set of unique characters who are viewed through the eyes and mind of a narrator as he matures, albeit very, very slowly. We are introduced to him as the son of Christian fundamentalist traveling salespeople; he meets a doctor who teaches him how to fish, track, and hunt and...more
I don't know what to make of this book. A good friend called it one of the best books he's read, ever. I like McGuane a lot, and have read most of his books, so I had high hopes for this book.

But ultimately, this book disappointed. The story didn't seem to go anywhere, and the protagonist was neither hero nor anti-hero. I had no empathy for the character, and at the end, all I took away from the book was the idea that McGuane knows a lot about the practice of medicine.
Oh my, oh my. This one sadly goes on the "return" shelf of our library, wherein books we read but didn't think were all that great go back for resale at our local Half Price. There were moments in this that held my interest; but the main protaganist is nearly on the verge of a nervous breakdown the entire novel. The scenes are very disjointed, going back and forth between present and future and parts of it are just mounds of dung to be waded through in order to get to the next teensiest weensies...more
Thomas McGuane's novel will make you laugh, tear-up, and nod with the, "Oh, I know someone like that character" feeling. Driving on the Rim is the story of Irving Berlin Pickett, M.D. who has his practice in a small town in Montana. He grew up with colorful characters surrounding him including his rug cleaning parents, with his holly roller, patriotic mother, to his over-sexed aunt, to women along the way that seduce him...until....something happens in his practice. The event forces Berl to revi...more
Interesting; good descriptions; fascinating characters. However, with that said, I'm not sure whether I liked the book. It's the story of one man's "journey" in life, starting out as the son of two itinerant people who grows up to become a doctor almost despite them. It's his story of "practicing" in the same small town, accusations of assisted suicide, unrequited love and lust (which is requited) and then a calming ending....set in Montana, I enjoyed much of it because it referenced towns like...more
McGuane is such an awesome writer! I love how his randomness just pulls things together: it is, after all, the way we interact with the world, and the culmination of detail makes up a more robust reality than the usual contrived literary strings of articulation. I was saving this for a trip we are starting tomorrow, but couldn't resist starting it, and now am already sucked into the character and craft. Hope I can put it down long enough to day to pack.
...Later: finished it, reluctantly. Such a...more
Suzy Keith
This book follows the life of Berl Pickett, from his boyhood in a small Montana town through his adulthood, where he becomes a doctor and returns to the same small town. Berl is an eccentric guy and makes lots of weird/bad choices throughout his life. His life seemed very depressing to me. I thought McGuane was a great writer. He has a very spare style, but he is able to convey a lot in the words he chooses. He remindes me of Wallace Stegner. Bookclubbers, if you liked "Peace Like a River," you...more
Mar 07, 2011 Debbie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Debbie by: Columbus Metropolitan Library
I have come close to abandoning this book a couple of times, but I get sucked in again and haven't....hmmmmmm.

In the end...I'm really glad I don't live in this town and don't have to depend on these folks for healthcare, crop dusting, selling me a hotdog or having my house painted. Berl is really messed up and over-sexed and lonely...go figure. All the other characters are equally drawn as cariacatures too....if you know that going in, maybe you rate this read higher?

The "plot" is nearly non-exi...more
Lynne Bentley-kemp
Sometimes I felt like abandoning this book as I became frustrated with inefficacy of the main character. I stuck it out and discovered I liked Berl in the end
The narrator of this book seems to be an overgrown, hapless naif, adrift in his own life in small town Montana; his story spanning decades from the 1970's to the late 2000's. Berl Pickett is his name and the enjoyment of this book is getting to know him, his dry wit, his town and the characters who come into and out of his life usually in surprising ways. The story is told in a slow, late afternoon kind of way, as if there is no hurry to get where we're going. That said, hints are dropped throug...more
Harriet Wrye
I am a big fan of horses, the west, and writers like Stegner and McGuane--so of course I had to read Driving on the Rim. What a quirky, brilliant flunky of a main character--and character he is! Over sexed and under socialized, brought up by a pentecostal zealot mother and a passive acquiescent father in tiny backwater town(s), IB Pitts never ceases to amaze, disappoint, delight and mystify as he grows from weird, dweeby misfit kid into weird, competent, misfit devoted small town doctor. The sma...more
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