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The Cadence of Grass

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Sunny Jim Whitelaw, a descendent of pioneers and owner of a large bottling plant, may have died, but he has no intention of relinquishing control: his will specifies that no one gets a cent unless his daughter Evelyn reconciles with her estranged husband, Paul. But Evelyn is a strong-willed woman, fiercely attached to the land, whose horses transport her to a West she feel ...more
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 537)
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A.J.
For anyone with a solid familiarity with Thomas McGuane's work, this is a fascinating novel.

Here you have a novel with a female protagonist, written by a man who has often been written off as a male chauvinist pig, whose female characters have always been a major bone of contention with critics. You have a novelist who has continually been accused of rewriting autobiography, writing a novel that clearly has little to do with his own life. And you have the recognizable "McGuane protagonist" -- a
...more
Paul
Aug 02, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Ack, fantastic. The only issue here is that it wasn't longer. McGuane moves along at breakneck speed, flitting from scene to scene where there was plenty of room to linger. Sure, things get a bit madcap here and there, but he pulls it off—this thing is laugh-out-loud hilarious at times. Also heartbreaking. Really excited to read more McGuane. There were a few passages where a main character hung out with her horses for a bit too long, and I wasn't sure really what was gained there, but otherwise ...more
Chris
Aug 17, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If this book were made into a movie I would envision it as a combination of the TV shows "Dallas" and "Soap." It's about a rich dysfunctional family in Montana with the friction between the nouveaux riche and the cowboy/settler culture. I think if McGuane were to do an update of this family he would have written them into a reality show like Duck Dynasty or the Kardashians. It's witty, humorous, and with deep profound musing on the paths you take in life. This book reminded me a lot of the satir ...more
Gabe
Jan 19, 2015 Gabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was published in 2002, 10 years after McGuane's previous novel (he published two nonfiction books in the interim), and the break seemed to be at least partly spent on reconstructing his style--as a result, "The Cadence of Grass" is significant for a few reasons. The two most important:

1. It's the beginning (or at least the full realization) of "late McGuane"
2. It's the only McGuane novel with a female protagonist

The two points are related, but let's look at them separately.

1. McGuane'
...more
Martha
Nov 06, 2015 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my only McGuane book and I am thinking that is a good thing. A most negative review complained that he had not grown up as a writer with this novel - many years out from his last. But I know nothing about that. He is new to me and I loved most of it. This family stands as an example of my own father's succinct appraisal of humanity :" People are crazy." McGuane's crazy is funny and I laughed but the humor gets tricky and the story loses some points. It is at its best when MaGuane talks r ...more
Kai
Jan 14, 2011 Kai rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una scrittura rodata da anni di mestiere ma ancora affilata, un romanzo che trova nei particolari, nelle descrizioni e soprattutto nei personaggi una forza inaudita, una tridimensionalità più unica che rara. Thomas McGuane, classe ‘39, è un narratore di razza . Il canto dell’erba (Alet, pp. 224 - 16) - tradotto armonicamente da Simona Sollai - con poche, rapide pennellate mette in scena le vicende della famiglia Whitelaw, una piccola dinastia di imprenditori del Montana su cui grava lo spirito ...more
J
Jan 09, 2011 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una scrittura rodata da anni di mestiere ma ancora affilata, un romanzo che trova nei particolari, nelle descrizioni e soprattutto nei personaggi una forza inaudita, una tridimensionalità più unica che rara. Thomas McGuane, classe ‘39, è un narratore di razza . Il canto dell’erba (Alet, pp. 224 - 16) - tradotto armonicamente da Simona Sollai - con poche, rapide pennellate mette in scena le vicende della famiglia Whitelaw, una piccola dinastia di imprenditori del Montana su cui grava lo spirito ...more
Amanda Patterson
He was known in life as the man who never smiled and in death he manages to control his family with his dubious legacy. He leaves his widow a comfortable income but insists that his ex-convict son-in-law, Paul, manage the bottling plant. As if this isn’t bad enough, Paul and Sunny’s daughter, Evelyn, must reconcile.
This novel twists and turns through the hills of Montana as it meanders through the dysfunctional Whitelaw family. The story follows the lives of Jim’s wife, daughters, their husbands
...more
Connor
Feb 04, 2016 Connor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty well written book with some great colloquialisms, but the characters aren't particularly believable. Most of them are intentionally shitty people who are apparently only written about for the reader to get a thrill when they get their comeuppance.
Rollin
Nov 28, 2011 Rollin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first read of McGuane. Liked it a lot. Interesting cast of characters, good story, enjoyable writing style, with hard Montana ranch life as a backdrop.

Sounds like a lukewarm review. Why did I give it four stars? I loved the words, the humorously flawed but still (mostly) sympathetic characters, the crazy dysfunctional family and family business, and the incredibly detailed passages about horses and cows real close up. And a story with twists and turns that surprise sometimes. Oh, and a male
...more
Gretchen Eick
Dec 02, 2015 Gretchen Eick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGuane writes beautiful prose and his story unfolds well. My frustration was the slimy darkness of some of the characters. Nevertheless, the book stays with me, which makes it a powerful read.
Mad
May 25, 2016 Mad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this right up until the very end which seemed over the top. But McGuane's writing: wonderful characters, wonderful descriptions of Montana nature, both wild and human, make almost anything forgivable
Maria Fotopoulos
I'm a long-time fan of McGuane ... this one has been sitting on my shelf for awhile awaiting my attention.
Johnathan Bardsley
This novel is in the same vein as Nothing But Blue Skies. I loved it: juicy, funny, raunchy. A great read.
Robert
Sep 14, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guy stands apart from all contemporary writers. He just gets better and better.
Laurie
May 15, 2015 Laurie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Can hardly believe I finished it. Kept hoping it would get better, never did.
Karen Brown
I wanted to hurry it up. Like watching grass grow!
Andrew Thompson
Hmm, quite a good read, but bits of it I just skipped over. The ending is quite weird, almost mystical. I felt the author could have made more of the characters. The story jumps around for no apparent reason, making the narrative feel uncomfortably jerky. Apparently, it isn't his best book. I bought it ages ago after reading a review. Interestingly, a couple of other books I read on the recommendation of the same magazine were not that great either. I think I have learnt my lesson now.

Blaire
Sep 24, 2008 Blaire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't care for this one. I'd have to describe the writing style as angular. It's more a man's book, I think, than a woman's. The sentence structure is often awkward as are the changes in scene. The writing shines occasionally when describing the weather and landscape, for which the author clearly has great affection. I found the characters to be shallowly drawn. The dialog didn't ring true to my ear, and was at times incomprehensible. Great title, though.
Sarah Pascarella
Thanks to my uncle's recommendation, I've now found another envy-inspiring writer with Thomas McGuane. This is no easy read, though--the family is more despicable than The Corrections' Lamberts, the humor is as black as tar, and much of the violence comes as a sudden shock. But man can McGuane write--he's a master of economy, wit, and detail, and I'm in awe of how he can create a fully realized cast of characters in just a page or two.
Autumn
Dec 07, 2010 Autumn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 4 stars is for the last 30 pages of the book; the words just about leap off the page, and the last 5 pages are electrifying, cathartic, inevitable, mystic, and horrible. I liked the language of the book a lot; the plot and most of the characters seemed secondary. Almost a horror novel in parts. I haven't read much else McGuane, but I will.
Sally Rogers
I was really bored with the character development. I skipped the middle, went straight to the end and didn't miss much. I was excited to read this book; his contemporaries, Jim Harrison and Wallace Stegner are more thoughtful and deep in their novels. Maybe McGuane's earlier work would have been a better choice for me.
John
Jun 11, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always like Thomas McGuane. He tells the same story a lot, but its a good story. The Montana scenery in this was fun but none of the characters drew me in. I started out reading his fiction but I like his non-fiction more these days. "Some Horses" is especially good.
Christa
Aug 18, 2009 Christa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-book-08
I read a short story of his awhile back, "Dogs", that I really liked and I've picked up a few of his longer pieces. This was mixed as well. Really fucking funny in some parts and a bit ragged in others, but overall it was decent. The guy has a mean sense of humor.
Laurie Gary
Jul 16, 2009 Laurie Gary marked it as quit-reading  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Quite possibly a yawner. I'm on p.22 and I'm not quite sure yet what to think of it. My plan this summer is to stop reading any book I'm not enjoying, so stay we'll see.

Update: I returned it today. That felt good. I'm moving on :)
Devo
Mar 14, 2011 Devo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A McGuane book in the tradition of McGuane books, the man has lost nothing. Stark and filled with pain. he is able to create characters so unlikeable and characters so likeable in the same novel.
Tom
Aug 25, 2009 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book about families and life. I didn't like it as much as some of my favorite non-genre writers, but that's just a matter of taste.
Fussnik
Hard boiled baroque. not the kind of book I usually read: horses, killing, cows. But it held me. good writing. maybe will try another of his.
Tom
Jun 19, 2013 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too many diversions, and technically there were many parts that I simply had to reread to understand and follow which character was even talking.
Cynthia
Apr 29, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liked this book, didn’t love it. Western setting. Land and family. Some humor. Rancher/friend is actually father of main female character
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“She ate her breakfast in silence, then drove downtown in weather so lowering the streetlights seemed decapitated. This was when you could discover if your preparations for winter were adequate, and if you were ready for the restrictions of movement and light that were about to be upon you.” 1 likes
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