Steve's Reviews > Into the Desperate Country

Into the Desperate Country by Jeff Vande Zande
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Dec 17, 09

bookshelves: novels
Read in December, 2009

In The Desperate Country kept surprising me as I read it. The writing is straightforward and direct, describing the woods and rivers and Northern Michigan in language that doesn't announce itself as poetic, and that lulled me into thinking the story might be straightforward and predictable. It's peopled with characters who are believably ordinary, which is to say no more 'ordinary' than anyone is once you get to know them, and no more ordinary than the story turned out to be, because each time I thought I had it figured out, I didn't. Antihero Stan is admirably honest and unbearably stubborn at once, and although at times his conjectures on what life is all about became a bit repetitive and strained, those conflicting yet somehow complementary traits deliver Stan to an ending that if described would seem unlikely to work, but in Vande Zande's hands becomes inevitable and absolutely perfect.
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