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Jamestown

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  326 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Jamestown chronicles a group of “settlers” (more like survivors) from the ravaged island of Manhattan, departing just as the Chrysler Building has mysteriously plummeted to the earth. This ragged band is heading down what’s left of I-95 in a half-school bus, half-Millennium Falcon. Their goal isto establish an outpost in southern Virginia, find oil, and exploit the Indians ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 16th 2007 by Soft Skull Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Feb 06, 2012 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gay Pioneer Sex Enthusiasts, Unipolar Depressives, Inkblot Interpretters, Nihilistic Romantics
Throughout my reading, this book transformed within my perceptual apparatus from a darkly hilarious (and loosely historical) farce to a viscerally felt chunk of despair-engaged-with-directly-as-despair rather than despair-with-silver-(in-between-the)-linings. By about the halfway point I shifted from mainly chuckling and appreciating Sharpe's inventive and highly synesthesiac prose into grimly and silently accepting that there's ultimately nothing truly redeeming about anything, ever. That the ...more
Jason Pettus
Jul 12, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing
(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: I am personal friends with a number of staff members of Soft Skull Press, publishers of Jamestown, even to the extent of sometimes staying on their couches during past trips to New York. It should be kept in mind while reading this review.)

Is it just me, or has there been just a whole slew of high-profile, so-called "high literature" novels about the Apocalypse published in the
...more
Jonfaith
This was originally to be read a month ago, as part of what I deemed the Calamity Song detor, then the tsunami happened and I didn't find it clever any longer. I dove into this last night and read half of it. the concluding half was digested today as the rain returned. The author's composure is promising, there is better work ahead -- once he outgrows his snark.
Jim
Jun 26, 2007 Jim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Absurdist fiction fiends
"Jamestown" is a wild, violent, mordantly hilarious retelling of how the first permanent English colony in the New World came into being and unlike the version extolled in countless middle-school textbooks, Matthew Sharpe doesn't gloss over its influence on those who were already there. Indeed, the Indians' perspective on the events of 400 years ago is what gives Sharpe's satire such ferocious bite.

Set in the indeterminably near future, a ragtag band of employees of the Manhattan Company (rough
...more
Cheryl
Jun 19, 2008 Cheryl rated it liked it

It was an alright telling of the Jamestown story. There were interesting spins, such as warring sections of New York and idiosyncratic injections of motor vehicles and computers. It is in an unspecified post apocalyptic time period that could be any time period you would imagine (many think it is post-9/11 New York). There is a great deal of humor in Sharpe's writing; quite a lot of one line puns and quite a lot more descriptive sexual material. As the young Pocahontas was likely a young girl,
...more
Kevin
May 07, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it
I didn't know I could like any kind of "historical fiction" but this is some crazy shit. Sharpe has engineered a new kind of epic with alternating characters and language that's as tight and ready to burst as an overinflated tire. Almost a 5-star read, and maybe it could have been if I would have been better schooled in the Jamestown story (I did much of my studying up on the story after I was finished). This Pocahontas is maybe my favorite character in fiction so far this year. See my little ...more
Nick
Feb 06, 2009 Nick rated it really liked it
(From now on I'm going to try and tie in the appropriate music I listen to while reading a selected book.)

Hope, social commentary, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, black humor and raunchy humor...You will find all these things within these pages.

Recommended soundtrack to your reading experience:
Explosions in the Sky-All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,
Ween or a Monty Python Soundtrack.
Sarah Shields
Mar 16, 2014 Sarah Shields rated it it was ok
I wasn't the biggest fan of this book. I guess that 'dark humor' isn't my cup of tea? I found that it was a bit abrupt sometimes, and others I was looking for a bit more explanation. Not a terrible book, but not one that I really liked much either.
Jerah
Sep 27, 2007 Jerah rated it it was amazing
i already reviewd this book but the internets ate my goodreads account so here it is again.

i want to eat this book. funny, violent, post-annihilation cleverness.
Jeffrey
Nov 11, 2015 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A great mixture of history and fiction.
Ben
Jun 18, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
Sporadically brilliant. I like it a ton, mostly because it's the closest thing I've found to a Barthelme novel/story that wasn't actually written by Barthelme. Reminded me quite a bit of "Cortes & Montezuma," in particular, and for reasons beyond the superficial associations.

I'll be very interested to see what he does next.

***

"All right let me take a guess as to what a guy like you could possibly want when you steal into my tent at midnight, give me back my wireless device, and sing a song o
...more
A.J. Howard
The dreaded one star review. Let me explain myself. Some parts of Jamestown featured the most insightful use of sardonic wit this side of Joe Heller. But other parts I found annoyingly grating as anything I've ever red. Unfortunately, almost the entirety of the second half of the book was closer to the latter experience. On several occasions I had to put the book down because it was just completely failing to connect with me. Yet, I'm willing to bet that I wouldn't have found certain parts as gr ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jamestown by Matthew Sharpe is an odd, modern-day dystopian novel. Sharpe calls Jamestown, "an ahistorical fantasia on a real event." What he has done is take the historical Jamestown story, added Disney's Pocahontas to it, as well as other more diverse elements, and set it in an uncertain future USA.

Chapters are each told from a different character's point-of-view. At the beginning, the story alternates between Johnny Rolfe and Pocahontas, while later sections add the first -person accounts of
...more
Mark
Jul 29, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Jamestown is a funny, smartass book with more heart than most novels that try to be the exact opposite of funny, smartass books--if that makes any sense. The characters are brightly colored cartoons for the most part, but both Pocahontas and Johnny Rolfe frequently astounded me with the enlightened truths that spilled from their mouths.

As with the movie Children of Men (and, presumably, the novel--though I never finished reading it, shame on me!), what makes these end-of-the-world works of art
...more
Malini Sridharan
Sep 22, 2008 Malini Sridharan rated it liked it
I read Jamestown for post-apocalyptic book club. It's definitely an interesting interpretation of the founding of Jamestown. It has a lot in common with other books that explore the cyclic nature of human history, like A Canticle for Leibowitz and Cloud Atlas. There was something genuine in the flippancy of Rolfe's and Pocahontas's attitudes, but it went a little too far for my taste. I think the novel would have been better balanced if Sharpe had given more face time to Stickboy or even some of ...more
Steven Ormosi
Jan 20, 2015 Steven Ormosi rated it really liked it
Jamestown is a difficult book to pin down. It is one of those books about which you say, "By turns..." and then list three or four different emotions it made you feel. It is one of those books where you don't really get all of what the author was doing, but you get enough of it that you think to yourself it was really deep. And it probably was.

Jamestown makes me want to learn more about the original Jamestown. Jamestown makes me wonder if it is racist, or perhaps an attempt at post-racism. I mea
...more
Tyler
Aug 23, 2015 Tyler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis: This story is a retelling of the Jamestown story (i.e. the first English settlement in the New World), but it is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Jamestown seems to be in the same location as it currently is (in Eastern Virginia), and the story spans from the Jamestown area up the coast to New York City, which has mostly been destroyed from how we know the city today. A group of settlers set out from Manhattan, looking for a place to settle and create a trading post for oil when they ...more
Ian
Jun 28, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
Those four stars should be taken with four corresponding grains of salt. For each thing this book gets right, there's a lot that it doesn't. Characterization is spotty at best, and the plot itself affords only the weakest of structures. That the book is a "fantasia" on historical occurrences is an interesting conceit, but the fantastic elements seem loose, only mostly thought out, and gimmicky. However, Sharpe succeeds incredibly with his use of language to convey pathos, humor, depth and ...more
Glenn
Aug 21, 2007 Glenn rated it liked it
Another recommendation from my weirdo friends, but another fruitful read nonetheless. The book was recommended due to it's highly scatalogical content, but what I found captivating was the painting of a picture without revealing all the details at once. Nothing was ever explained outright, but the picture nevertheless came into focus: specifically, a post "apocalyptic" world, where government as we know it has collapsed, replaced by tribal allegiances and a nasty, brutish and short life in a ...more
Marvin
Aug 03, 2009 Marvin rated it liked it
This wonderfully quirky novel is a post-apocalyptic novel drawing on the Pocahontas story. With New York City mostly in ashes, a delegation is sent down what used to be I-95 to what used to be Virginia to steal a presumed supply of oil from the natives. The delegation nearly starves while the natives marvel at how inept they are and alternate between helping them and undermining their survival, even attacking them. The delegation includes Jack Smith, who's saved from execution by the chief's ...more
Jeff
Aug 01, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another of those books that I admired more than I liked. The premise is terrific - a retelling of the Jamestown settlement story set in a post-apocalyptic future. It manages to be extraordinarly violent as well as funny in a very bleak kind of way. There's a fair amount of (occasionally comical) mutilation and plenty of shitting - this is an extremely physical book, and usually not in a pleasant way.

You're going to be disappointed if you go into this looking for psychological realism or
...more
Jackie Intres
May 05, 2013 Jackie Intres rated it liked it
This was a really interesting concept that did not deliver. Using the failed attempt to begin a colony at Jamestown, Sharpe tries to expand that into an understanding of conquering and ownership in a future distopia. But the whole book waxes on (and on and on) about language, the differences in language, the subtle things that actually led to suffering between the Native Americans and colonialists, but in the end it is a lot of sound and fury. He does not really do anything interesting with ...more
Matt Bird
Jul 06, 2016 Matt Bird rated it really liked it
Oh man, this is so goddamned weird it's incredible.
Jamestown is like the more mature, older brother of Ryan Gattis' Kung Fu High School.
Jamestown is It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia in book form.
Jamestown is what I imagine awaits us were Donald Trump to win the American presidency.

A post-apocalyptic retelling of the Pocahontas and John Smith story, people are awful. Just awful. Degenerate, filthy, sexually and morally indiscriminate, people are nothing but cockroaches scurrying across a landsca
...more
Katie
Jul 15, 2007 Katie rated it really liked it
I approached this novel with equal excitement and skepticism - the story/myth of Jamestown reimagined in the near-future? Sign me up. But. Would it be too clever and pomo? And sure, there are plenty of "clever" jokes I could do without, but the writing here is most often brilliant and fun and he knows when to pull back and balance the pomo cleverness with true insight and seriousness. Saunders-esque language, Shakespearean scenes of betrayal and bloodshed, Joycean sex-driven females (Penelope ...more
Nat
Aug 23, 2011 Nat rated it it was ok
I really did think I was a fan of this title until I was about half-way through. This was the point at which it soured under the weight of its own contrivance. It felt, by the end, as if this was a novel trying desperately to be as pithy as its post-modern friends. It failed, it knew it had failed, and so resorted instead to experimenting with drugs. In the end, even the trippy overcompensation didn't turn out rewarding to read.

The worst part about these kinds of books is that they inevitably re
...more
Kate
Oct 15, 2007 Kate rated it did not like it
I did not finish this book. I know it's received praise from all over the place, and it was the LBC's "Read This!" book from the summer, but I got half way through and still wasn't enjoying it.

I don't think the author did what he intended to do, I thought it was too clever by half and while parts were funny, mostly I found it annoying. I guess my sense of humor slips a little in his portrayal of the "Indians"--with the title JAMESTOWN, I wasn't sure if this was allegory, or satire, or farce, or
...more
Janet
Nov 06, 2010 Janet rated it it was ok
This book is tough for me to review. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I found it very easy to put down and was never very eager to pick it back up. The style never really captured my attention or my enthusiasm. It took me a very long time to finish this book, but I never reached the point of giving up on it entirely. It's not the kind of book I would recommend to anyone, but not because it was badly written. It had an interesting plot and storyline, I just don't think it would appeal to ...more
Deidra
Feb 09, 2008 Deidra rated it really liked it
What an odd book. After a breakdown of American society, people revert back to pre-colonial social structures, sending parties of men out to scout areas untouched by the apocalypse for supplies and resources. The story of the Jamestown settlement and the romance of Pocahontas and Rolfe is recounted in this bizarre setting, through email messages, telepathy and a wealth of other weird communications. History repeats itself (or didn't really happen) in this darkly humorous tale that reveals no ...more
Alexis
Nov 01, 2007 Alexis rated it it was amazing
So far I'm loving it. I put off reading it for so long because it's about a post-apocalyptic U.S. (and there's been a lot of that lately), but Sharpe is hilarious. He alternates between two characters, which sets a swift pace. The voice of Pocahontas is brilliant--teenager, wickedly smart--her pronouncements about the English language are enough to recommend the book.

"Oh English! How I love to write to you in English, even though it is so slow to do anything in English, because English moves at
...more
Pamela
Nov 29, 2010 Pamela rated it liked it
More than the concept of this book, I love Matthew Sharpe's sparky, absurdist, poetic flair for dialogue. Unfortunately, the dialogue's the only thing that kept me tethered to Jamestown. For such an inventive set-up (the settling of Jamestown in an apocalyptic present set off by the war between Manhattan and Brooklyn), the narration is about as interesting (and pleasant) as watching a sore fester—which pretty much describes about 80% of the action in this novel.
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Matthew Sharpe (born 1962) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Born in New York City, but grew up in a small town in Connecticut. Sharpe graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio. Afterwards, he worked at US Magazine until he went back to school at Columbia University, where he pursued an MFA. Since then, he has been teaching creative writing at various institutions including Columbia ...more
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