Boy's Life
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Boy's Life

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  11,468 ratings  ·  1,078 reviews
In me are the memories of a boy's life, spent in that realm of enchantments. These are the things I want to tell you....

Robert McCammon delivers "a tour de force of storytelling" (BookPage) in his award-winning masterpiece, a novel of Southern boyhood, growing up in the 1960s, that reaches far beyond that evocative landscape to touch readers universally.

Boy's Life is a r...more
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published by Pocket Books (first published 1991)
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Boy's Life by Robert McCammonSpeaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammonThe Alienist by Caleb CarrJohnny Got His Gun by Dalton TrumboThe Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
My Twenty Favorite Books
1st out of 24 books — 3 voters
Gone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainSilent We Stood by Henry ChappellTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeA Song for Carmine by M. Spio
Americana Fiction
12th out of 36 books — 17 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lis
Jul 23, 2008 Lis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
If I had to pick JUST ONE book that was my favorite (with a gun to my head, obviously, which is the only way I could ever choose between my favorite books) I would choose this one. It blew me away the first time I read it, and it continues to blow me away each and every time I pick it up. I'm getting all shivery right now, just thinking of reading it.

My favorite quote -- "We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to...more
Lou
This is a Magical story of a boy Cory, he narrates to us about his life in the year 1964 in a small town of Zephyr Alabama where anything and everything happens. His experiences and friendships want to make you tearful and joyful he is on a journey of self discovery and of mysteries that haunt his father and the lake. A highly recommended read one to make my list of must reads, Robert McCammon is a underrated writer a master craftsman storyteller.
'Because Death cannot be known. It cannot be be
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a surprising book. My brother and I (who mostly agree on absolutely nothing) both enjoyed this book. We came to the conclusion it might be a generational thing. I'm a "Boomer" while he would be on the tail end of that designation if not just after it. A boy and his bicycle...a bike meant freedom then. I grew up in the foothills of the Smokies (Smoky Mountains)till I was 13. I was all over two counties on that bike. Then we moved to Dayton Ohio. There I covered the entire area on my Bike,...more
Charlene
There is no way that any review could live up to this book.
It is utterly fabulous. It reels you in and never lets you go.
It will bring up every good memory that you had while growing up. The feeling of freedom you experienced riding your bike, exploring wooded areas and just generally being a kid.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from this book:

"We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of o...more
Steph
You know how you can read a book, and when you are finished, you weep because there is no more? Well, this is one of those books. The story, the characters, the descriptive passages...oh, man, the descriptive passages. Positively magical was the passage about the young boys onthe last day of school before summer break. I had to put the book down and savor that for a while before I continued. Read the passage to my husband (and anyone else who would listen). Ya gotta read this book!
Zoeytron
The year is 1964. The place, small town Zephyr, Alabama. Back when there was something magical about a summer just starting. Childhood buddies Cory, Davy Ray, Ben, and Johnny are twelve years old.

It was impossible not to wax nostalgic while reading this coming of age story, as I, too, was twelve years old in the summer of 1964. No cell phones, no cable TV, no PCs. A simpler time, to be sure. Time was spent riding your bicycles, exploring, playing hard, and learning life's lessons, one by one. M...more
Jason
5 super big stars

Wow, what a masterpiece. Robert McCammon has crafted, a timeless classic in this novel, Boy's Life. I can only try to give it justice with my review by comparing it to a great work of art. People are able to identify with great works of art. They can appreciate them, and attempt to understand them. They are worth "More than a 1000 words". So too is this novel by McCammon. This is a magical book that makes the reader “feel” the words and the stories. I feel that this book is ext...more
badfae
Apr 10, 2008 badfae rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: general-fiction
I read this book as a teenager, and again as an adult...and both times, it affected me.

On the surface, Boy's Life may see like another fluffy, cross-genre book--is it a crime novel? Is it horror? Is it fantasy? Is it a coming-of-age story?--but that would be selling it short. There's a kind of magic in here, the same sort of magic McCammon refers to himself in the first few pages.

It contains the nostalgic magic of childhood, sure (which we've all experienced, whether we grew up as boys in the...more
Maciek
Boy's Life is one of those books you do not want to end.A beautiful coming of age story that takes place in Zephyr, Alabama. The time is the early 60's; men still work as milkmen and women devote much of their time to baking, though it has its bad sides: racial prejudices and segregation are still actual problems.

The protagonist is a 12 yar old boy, named Cory Mackenson. Cory doesn't have TV and video games; but he has no problem living to the fullest without these. After all, there are bikes,...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Think Something Wicked This Way Comes without a focused antagonistic plot line. Think Alice Hoffman. Think of something slow, and winding, with just a trace of the unreal. Think of stories from your southern grandpa, told from the perspective of a master storyteller.

Think slooooow.

The rest of this review will be displayed at clsiewert.wordpress.com: http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/1...
booklikes: http://carols.booklikes.com/post/5477...
Paul Nelson
Boy’s Life is my second book by Robert McCammon and I have to say the guy is a master story teller, set in the small town of Zephyr, Alabama in the 1960’s, the author takes us through the early teenage years of aspiring writer Cory Mackenson, his family and various incidents that occur in this rural town.

The story starts when Cory and his father while out on the early morning milk delivery witness a car plunge off the road into the deep water of the quarry. Cory’s father dives in to try and save...more
Gatorman
This was, without question, one of the finest books I have ever had the pleasure to read. The writing is magnificent and brings all the characters and locations to vivid life, allowing you to be right there watching Cory, his friends, family and neighbors grow up in the sleepy, magical town of Zephyr. It is a fascinating exploration of a child's experiences, dreams and nightmares in a town that holds many secrets, some good and some bad. The mystery of the dead man plunging into the river is but...more
Bill
This is the second Robert McCammon novel I've read. The last one was many many moons ago, Swan Song, and the similarities to Stephen King's The Stand were somewhat warranted. Some reviewers like to also draw comparisons of Boy's Life to King's The Body, but I would imagine if Swan Song had never been written, this comparison would not come up.

This is a coming of age novel, and simply speaking, this animal is a cliche in itself. To complain of this being a knockoff of King, Harper Lee, Dan Simmo...more
Kyle
What a beautiful book! One might ask what this book is about, and the short answer? Life. The long answer? everything. It's about happiness and sorrow, fun and obligation, melancholy and eagerness. It's about dreams, and reality. It's about magic. Not the wave your wand around chant fake words kind of magic, but REAL magic. The magic of reality and life.

If you've ever let your imagination run wild, if you've ever dreamed of your future or the possibilities of the world, then this book is for yo...more
Stephen
4.5 to 5.0 stars. Beautifully written story that reminded me of a cross between Stephen King's "Stand By Me" and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. A must read for fathers who have sons and for sons who love their fathers. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Winner: Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel
Winner: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Dark Fantasy/Horror Novel
Gary
This book works its way through the seasons of what is a very slowly unfolding murder mystery. At first, the pace at which the mystery progressed frustrated me as I wound my way through path after path of digression. Soon, the digressions themselves drew me in and time and again I found myself feeling as if I was a part of the story itself.
The author does a masterful job of bringing the characters to life. By the end of the novel, I felt as if I knew them and would miss them when I closed the co...more
Jo Anne B
This is the second book I have read by Robert McCammon and I am once again amazed at the masterpieces he can create. His writing conjures up so much emotion and nostalgia that you can’t help but step back and think about your own life and feel happy remembering your past. But then you feel sad because you begin to realize all that we have lost as adults inevitably changed by the passing of time. I think that is McCammon’s purpose for writing books as an author.

He begins Boy’s Life with the adult...more
Algernon
this is going to be a bit long and rambling, because I really, really liked the book and had a lot to chew on before putting my thougths on paper:

My third book by Robert McCammon took me a little by surprise by the change in style, but in a good way. I liked The Wolf's Hour for its Indiana Jones type of campy adventure and Swan Song for its disturbing depiction of the aftermath of a nuclear war. But Boy's Life is where I became a true fanboy, where he has shown what he can really do with a...more
Rick Hautala
Reading this in late summer was almost like ... almost like discovering Ray Bradbury for the first time ... I know this was McCammon's goal--to recapture those "Bradburyesque" feelings of boyhood and summer and lost innocence ... and he does that with GREAT success ... A few scenes and incidents seem not to meld with the overall story, but this book has MAGIC! If you haven't read it ... or if you haven't read it in a while ... it's definitely worth finding and diving into ...
Janice
Apr 03, 2014 Janice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janice by: Stephen King recommended author
I have my own rating system. Think two thumbs up, but based on how many hankies I used to wipe away the tears. This one is a definite soggy dripping two hanky rating.

I laughed. I cried. Some characters I loved. Others, not so much. Because the main character was 2 years older than me, this was nostalgia. I was transported back to those halcyon days when we were innocent and naïve, when it was safe to grow up in a small town... but back up the bus. Was it safe?

For lack of a better choice, I pla...more
Bill
The author gets credit for an ambitious and, in my view, valuable project.
The book is about growing up as a young boy in a small town in the American south during the 60's.
Its aim is nostalgia. Along with a recital of lessons learned and philosophies gained.
As one who grew up as a southern country boy myself (although a decade or two later)--I thought I'd be able to relate to this book. Not so much.

The nostalgia is delivered straight up, without subtlety, and so its going to work only to the d...more
Kit★
Ordered a copy through PBSwap because I was tired having no luck finding it on any of my adventures. This was my first McCammon book, but it totally won't be my last one. I'd heard a ton of good things about this book, so I was excited to get around to the buddy read of it over in the Bookworm Buddies group.
I'm a bit of a sucker for these coming of age in the '50s-'60s type stories for some reason. I was born in '85, so too late to experience it for myself, but there's something about that 'gol...more
Chris
First book this year to make my "all time favorites" list. For a lot of us, books like this are why we became life-long readers. I only wish that there were more of them. Boy's Life not only entertained me but reminded me of why I love reading (and movies). McCammon's masterpiece deserves to sit on the shelf with other classic "coming of age" novels like Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and IT. It taps right into that magical stage in life when we are about 12 and we learn about...more
Carol
"You Don't Have To Leave What Is, To Visit What Was"

Revisit the past by taking this sentimental journey into the 1960's in Zephyr, Alabama. Eleven year old Corey Mackenson and a memorable cast of well-defined characters (OMG Vernon) will make you both laugh and cry many times throughout the book. From a shocking murder comes haunting dreams, and from boyhood friendships comes both happiness and sorrow. There are creatures and ghosts, floods and bullies, and you'll not forget the wasp's from hell

...more
Shelly
I'm sorry to say I didn't really like this book. I wasn't really engaged. I felt like it was too long for what it was, and so much could have been cut out without affecting the overall story at all. I almost stopped reading at the flying (around pg 150), and almost stopped reading again with the monkey in the church (around pg 250 I think). In the end, it seemed like a really bad attempt to write a book similar to To Kill a Mockingbird.
Addy
I've never read a more thought provoking and deeply satisfying book in my life. I wish I could have a conversation with Cory Mackenson. That is how real he is to me. I was left with a smile on my face and willing back the magic I so often see in my 2 young boys:)
Kimberly
I'm nearly speechless, this book was THAT good! "Magic"--pretty much sums it up!
Eric Guignard
REVIEWED: Boy's Life
EDITED BY: Robert R. McCammon
PUBLISHED: May, 1992

I don’t know how this book has escaped me for so long, as it was written back in 1991. This is the kind of story I wish I would have read as a teenager. Although, of course, it may not have meant as much to me then as it does now, as a father, watching my son begin his own adventures, and remembering that sense of magic and excitement that I’ve somehow lost over the years. People frequently throw the phrase around that they’ve...more
Alondra
Dec 28, 2012 Alondra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Alondra by: Horror Aficionados
5 Stars and well-deserved, in my very humble opinion.

Well written story of a boy's life. 1964, when the world was on the verge of so much change; we enter Cory Mackenson's world. A tween on the verge of manhood; but still able to hold onto is childhood just a little longer. Cory and his friends embark upon adventures, real and and not so real; or are they? He also encounters the evil that men do and learns, as children always do; the hard way; but he learns.

I really did not think this book would...more
Maria
Както сам авторът я определя – книгата е магическа. Разказва за детството – най-общо. И за други неща. Преди опаковките за еднократна употреба, полиестерът, бързото хранене, полуфабрикатните пици и прочие "достижения" на "цивилизацията". Но без да е сладникаво-сантиментална и захаросана. Не всичко е само щастливи игри на воля. Неприятностите не са спестени, даже са доста брутални. Убийството, на което Кори и баща му стават случайни свидетели и което почти съсипва Том Макенсън; расовата сегрегаци...more
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Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

A new contemporary novel, The Five, was published in May 2011 by Subterranean Press.

The Hunter from the Woods, a collection of novellas and stories featuring Michael Gallatin, the main character from The Wolf's Hour, was published as...more
More about Robert McCammon...
Swan Song The Wolf's Hour They Thirst Mine Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)

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“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”
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“After years of having a dog, you know him. You know the meaning of his snuffs and grunts and barks. Every twitch of the ears is a question or statement, every wag of the tail is an exclamation.” 114 likes
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