A cross between Cormac McCarthy and Carson McCullers, with an occasional Faulknerian description and long sentence. I loved it, a painting of rural Am...moreA cross between Cormac McCarthy and Carson McCullers, with an occasional Faulknerian description and long sentence. I loved it, a painting of rural America and the constant and often nostalgically disenchanting search for one's tribe as definition of self. Leslie's search for his father and for a human connection is the metaphoric search for the American Dream. The intent is noble but the outcome is more materialistic than historic. We all leave behind too much stuff and not enough great memories and good deeds. Dust in the wind.
But I think this can also be read in a positive light (English major, here; love those deep, dark, dirty corners of the human soul). Leslie completes his search, he spends some time with Harlow, his father, the time is too short and too tragic, yet Harlow provides (in the only thing close to a dues ex machina that one can have in a Southern Gothic) for his son in a very surprising way. And Leslie gets the girl (who is much more than "close" to both father and son) and rides off into the sunset of the Upper South to---something slightly better. Well, ok, that's as positive a reading as I want to admit.
The descriptions are stellar and luxurious in their desolation or depravity. Armand can make a dead tree sound like something you want featured in your backyard. He's most artistically gifted.
I immediately bought his other, award-winning first book: the Pugilist's Wife. (less)
SOme of the language and descriptions in the beginning were really stellar and I was settling in for a GoodRead. Then the middle dragged like a troll'...moreSOme of the language and descriptions in the beginning were really stellar and I was settling in for a GoodRead. Then the middle dragged like a troll's butt, and the ending rushed to tie everything into meaningful packages. It's a pretty great plot, but it rambled.(less)
A grouchy schoolteacher character? A Reality Book.
Beautiful writing. I never cared much for the character, but she's complex and well-drawn. She has a...moreA grouchy schoolteacher character? A Reality Book.
Beautiful writing. I never cared much for the character, but she's complex and well-drawn. She has also never come to terms with herself, holding herself apart from others until the distance is permanent. Then she wonders why she's alone. Hello!
The stories are woven around Olive, so that you don't feel entirely obligated to her history alone. And the truisms of human relationships that the author weaves are quietly brilliant.
I didn't even finish it. I was too bored. The writing was smooth, even beautiful in places--but there were too few "places."
Sometimes sticking with a...moreI didn't even finish it. I was too bored. The writing was smooth, even beautiful in places--but there were too few "places."
Sometimes sticking with a book just to finish it is as pathetic as staying in a bad marriage because "You should oughta." My apologizes to this author. I'm sure that a book about a middleaged wealthy Dutchman in NY whose wife leaves him stewing in his middleaged uncertainty while she lives in England with their child and he (the Dutchman, not the child) plays cricket, does more pining in a most stoic Dutch manner, ditches therapists, and continues to make obscene amounts of money would appeal to some readers, but I have a life.(less)
So far, so good. Opening line: "Jimmy Luntz had never been to war, but this was the sensation, he was sure of that--eighteen guys in a room. . ." Turn...moreSo far, so good. Opening line: "Jimmy Luntz had never been to war, but this was the sensation, he was sure of that--eighteen guys in a room. . ." Turns out, they're the Alhambra California Beachcomber Chordsmen, a barbershop group that comes in 17th out of 20 in the choral competition, which is immediately followed by Jimmy's getting hauled off in a copper-colored Cadillac by a henchman who must break Jimmy's leg for not paying a debt, but Jimmy shoots him in the leg instead and escapes for---where can you go?
I love this junk. I love Denis Johnson, from when I first met his writing, poetry, in Incognito Lounge, still one of my favorite poetry books. I love good, crustily dark-humored crime noir, ever since getting hooked by Rick Harsch's incredible Billy Verite trilogy, starting with The Driftless Zone and its characters like Billy, the Sarcastic Brunette, and the Fag with No Eyebrows.
It's the wordplay. I love Verbular Surprises.
Ok, now that I've finished, all the above still applies with the caveats: stock characters (endemic to noire) and the plot is an endless Elmore-Leonard-slapstick blood-spewing chase. Sex, violence, Cadillacs, tough broads(one with heart of gold, one heartless), inept thugs, slickly inverted repetition of pick-up lines--Yo! Tarantino! Ovah heah!
By the way, there are TWO copper-colored Cadillacs and one black Cadillac. But I had my eye on the Jag.(less)