Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “East of Denver” as Want to Read:
East of Denver
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

East of Denver

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  345 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Mixing pathos and humor in equal measure, East of Denver is an unflinching novel of rural America, a poignant, darkly funny tale about a father and son finding their way together as their home and livelihood inexorably disappears.

When Stacey “Shakespeare” Williams arrives at his family’s farm in eastern Colorado to bury a dead cat, he finds his widowed and senile father, E
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Dutton Adult (first published July 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about East of Denver, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about East of Denver

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Katie Kenig
Jul 23, 2012 Katie Kenig rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
When I first started reading this book, I thought "Brilliant! I'm going to give it five stars! I love character-driven novels and these characters are so compelling! They remind me of people down home in southern Illinois. They're lovely and charming and unique and frustrating and annoying and so heartbreakingly real. Oh, this is going to be such a lovely relaxing read with more depth than action, and a nice break from the suspense and horror I've been reading lately!"

When I got about halfway th
Mark Stevens
Oct 17, 2012 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
"East of Denver" is evocative, moody, funny, bleak, desperate and, somehow, optimistic all at the same time. The story is chock full humanity and the images are chiseled with sharp, clean strokes.

Hill had me from the opening paragraph, an 11-sentence beauty that packs the kind of energy and forward momentum that carries the book along. We are with Stacey “Shakespeare” Williams on his way out to the family farm in eastern Colorado to bury a dead cat and also to discover a major challenge with hi
On the surface, this is a simple book. A 40something Denver man, Stacey "Shakespeare" Williams takes an unscheduled trip to his boyhood home in Dorsey, CO only to find his father living in deep dementia and profound squalor. Shakes finds his caretaker dead in the bathroom (a week ago, from natural causes) and quits his job and moves back in with his father to see what he can do to literally save the farm. Over the next several months the bills pile up, the groceries go down, old friends are some ...more
Kayla Ashley
Jun 15, 2012 Kayla Ashley rated it really liked it
I won this book from a first reads giveaway here on goodreads!

Wow. This book took me by surprise! I really enjoyed reading this one. It's definitely not my typical read; I couldn't tell you the last time I read a book where the main character was a male in his 40's or somewhere around there. Yet, something about this book is so compelling that it completely drew me in despite not being what I would typically pick up from a library or book store.

At first I thought it was Gregory Hill's writing.
I really enjoyed this book. As a (mainly) fiction reader, as a librarian, and as a Colorado transplant who really doesn't know much about the Midwest. (Full disclosure, my husband works at the same organization as the author, but I myself have never met him.)
East of Denver isn't really about one thing. It's about how you can't go home again, and how as our parents age our roles reverse (sometimes suddenly). It's about recognizing the humanity in the people around you. It's about that quality in
Bennett Gavrish
Oct 22, 2012 Bennett Gavrish rated it it was amazing
Grade: A-

L/C Ratio: 70/30
(This means I estimate the author devoted 70% of his effort to creating a literary work of art and 30% of his effort to creating a commercial bestseller.)

Thematic Breakdown:
35% - Senility
30% - Small town culture
20% - Farming
15% - Humor

East of Denver won the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and after 12 months in the publishing carousel, Gregory Hill's debut novel was released into the wild. It's a simple story with a small cast that hits alternating notes of hilarit
Nathan Strickland
Dec 09, 2012 Nathan Strickland rated it it was ok
It's easy to see in the first 3,000 words or so why this novel won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2011. The opening line about the dead cat is a fine hook (that eventually goes nowhere, unless I missed some unusually deep symbolism) and the revelations of the father's impoverished state (both literally and figuratively) are genuinely moving.

Then the wheels start to come off.

Characters visit each other in scenes that seem to serve no purpose. Instead of making secondary characters more
Jul 13, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Hard to describe this book. It's like Christopher Moore meet Quentin Tarantino. It should be a movie and has indie film written all over it. Scott Glenn would play the father. Joseph Gordon-Levitt would play the son. This story has an air of tragedy that is totally usurped by dark humor. The return of the prodigal son or should I say the only son from the big city back to his rural roots-all to bury a cat, sets off an improbable chain of events that has you in awe of the author's gift for captur ...more
Sep 10, 2012 Christopher rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book
This book left me feeling conflicted.

I picked it up because it's a book about Denver (kind of) by a local author, and it won an Amazon award.

I kept reading it because the first half was beautiful, and then the later plot elements were too fantastical and weird to ignore.

I chuckled and smirked at parts, and became morose and sullen after reading other parts.

The reader of the audio book sounded physically taxed by the act of reading the book; chapters began in a clear voice and ended in a grav
Randy Briggs
Aug 06, 2012 Randy Briggs rated it it was amazing

A lovely little book about a group of small-town misfits who hatch a half-assed plan to rob a bank. Smart, quirky and heartbreaking. I read it in one sitting.
Dec 31, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
Hilarious! Love this guy's sense of humor.....blunt, to the point (doesn't waste words) and hysterical dark humor.
Jun 07, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Great sense of place and excellent characters. Should be a film in the near future.
Court Merrigan
Aug 04, 2013 Court Merrigan rated it really liked it
Oh, man, did I want to love this book. It has all the hallmarks of a good country noir - the disaffected and alienated loner, the crazy, the seemingly empty countryside, the irony and the lack of moral compass. So I'll start by saying that this book is certainly country noir (it even manages to cram in some violence in, towards the end). AND it has the added benefit of being funny. Mr. Hill knows how turn his MC's first-person POV into some seriously funny lines: "Teh mentality in Strattford Cou ...more
Dec 09, 2016 Diana rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Here's a book that will probably not hit many readers' radar but should be on it.

It's a quick read. It's endearing. It's sad. It's simplistic in setting and cast. But the human, relate-able aspects of this story, that anyone could be the main character and his could be anyone's family, are so prominent and consistent that you can't stop reading it.

Recommended if you're looking for nostalgia but not sap, family but not Waltons, realistic flaws but not tragedy.
Jan 01, 2017 Laurie rated it really liked it
A book with some darkly humorous wit. A book with a cast of characters who all have issues. A story of a father and son and their survival on the family farm on the plains of eastern Colorado, and all a chain of events following the death of a cat. What a great start to a novel!!!!
Jul 22, 2012 Vox rated it really liked it
What a quirky, fun, heartbreaking book this is.

They say you can't go home again, but when his cat dies, Stacey "Shakespeare" "Shakes" Williams decides to bring it back to his small rural hometown, somewhere - you guessed it - east of Denver. Things certainly have changed. Shakes's dad is in the throes of dementia, occasionally forgetting that his wife died some years previously. Conversations are repeated. The home is a fetid bowl of squalor. And when his father's caretaker is discovered dead in
Viviane Crystal
Jul 01, 2012 Viviane Crystal rated it it was amazing
Shakespeare Williams (SW) (real name Stacey but no one ever calls him that) is on his way home because his cat has been murdered and he must be buried on home ground next to other beloved animals who met their demise earlier. No, there are no tears; SW just puts the dead animal in the car and begins the trek to Colorado. When he gets there, he hope to just visit but discovers, after the burial, that his father is definitely shows signs of senility, including handing over hundred dollar bills for ...more
Jan 02, 2017 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting in an odd way. The relationship between father and son was moving and heartbreaking.
Dec 21, 2016 Tfalcone rated it liked it
Crazy,sad and funny?
Sep 27, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it

This is a story set in dying rural America, in this case on a non-working farm in eastern Colorado, about a son who has come home to care for his father with dementia. Stories dealing with Alzheimer's seem to be increasingly common, and I doubt that will go away. In this case the father is quite young to have these problems, only 62, which seems surprising, further he is portrayed as a sort of idiot savant. Other details also seem to not be there - was the son working before he came from Denver
Many people will find this book relate to them in some way. Who hasn't lived with or known someone with dementia or alzheimer's and seen all sides of this insidious illness? The protagonist and sometimes narrator, Stacey "Shakespeare" Williams a.k.a. "Shakes," is on his way back from Denver to the old family farm and his father. A quirky cast of old high school friends come back into Shakes' life when he arrives too, both helping and hindering.

His father is living by himself and as Shakes will
Sep 05, 2012 1morechapter rated it really liked it

4.5 stars

Gregory Hill won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for East of Denver in 2011.

Disclaimer: I grew up near the area where the story takes place.

Due to that fact, I was especially interested in reading this novel. I’d been disappointed in the past by books set in northeastern Colorado — most notably, Kent Haruf’s Plainsong (though I’m still willing to give his other books a chance.)

I was impressed, though, by East of Denver. There were still a few
Jun 15, 2012 Chelsey rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Dark Humour Enthusiasts
Shelves: first-reads
My thanks go out to First Reads and the publisher for sending me this novel.

I did not enjoy this book as much as other people did. I felt that the main character's anosmia was an after-thought and had no real impact on the novel. I think the secondary character of Vaughn was completely unnecessary and I didn't think there was a point to having him in the book. The plot of the book lacked detail and was confusing at points.

The transitions between paragraphs were sometimes confusing as they would
Sep 05, 2013 Garryvivianne rated it really liked it
A young man "Shakespere" Williams takes a trip to a city outside of Denver to his father's farm to bury a dead cat. There he finds his dad living badly due to his senility. He hooks up with 3 of his school buddies, 3 misfits actually, and he really knows no good would come of his getting together with them.

He realizes he probably needs to stay with his dad to help out. The farm is useless & run down & his father forgets things too much lately. So he quits his job & moves in with his
Aug 21, 2013 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
The "you can never go home" plot is a well-worn one, but for some reason I was curious to see how it played out in a small town in eastern Colorado. "Shakes" has been living a dead-end life in Denver, and returns to the family farm to take care of his declining father, who seems to have Alzheimer's. The symbolism is laid on a bit thick, with the father representing the decline of the town, and small-town America in general. The father had an instinctive ingenuity for solving the day to day probl ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Diana rated it liked it
A man, Stacey Shakespeare Williams, cat dies. He decides to bury the cat on the family farm....east of Denver. When he arrives, he finds the place a mess and his father, age 62, had demintia. (guess he hadn't been home for a while) Most of the farm equipment is gone and Stacey doesn't know how to farm. He can't leave his father and he can't take him home to Denver. They have no money coming in, so where does that leave them?
Stacey, known as Shakey, in high school hooks up with some of his old
Nicole Overmoyer
I was lucky enough to win a copy of East of Denver through a Goodreads giveaway by Plume Books. I admit that one of my favorite things about Goodreads is that I can enter giveaways and win books that I probably wouldn't have picked up at a bookstore. I probably would have passed this book by. But the blurb on the giveaway page looked interesting enough so I entered.

Very happily, I won.

The back of the book describes it as "darkly comic" and that is the best possible description for this book.

Pamela Detlor
Jun 15, 2012 Pamela Detlor rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Contemporary fiction lovers
Author, Gregory Hill, delivers a fine example of first person writing, within the pages of “East of Denver.” The story flows with a steady pace from beginning to end.

This is definitely a black comedy. Despite the harsh landscape and all encompassing family turmoil, “Shakespeare” and “Emmett Williams” bring levity and heart to a story that could potentially be a huge downer. I found the cast of characters very believable, in a climate where complacency is better than giving up. The scenes betwee
*(I won this book through the First Reads giveaway section on Goodreads in June 2013)*

I hate reading a book and then coming to the conclusion that I can't decide whether I liked it or not. And I don't even have a solid opinion on it. That's what bothers me.

The story was interesting and fun, but if Shakespeare hadn't mentioned how old he was and that they all went to high school together; I would've thought that they were still a bunch of high school kids being immature and doing stupid things.

(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I never met so many doofuses in between the pages of a book before. The only character I really took a shine to was Emmett, a famer/inventor who is the victim of early onset dementia. When his son, "Shakes" moves back to the family farm to eastern Colorado to take care of his father, he learns that his father has been swindled by the local bank owner and is near penniless. Shakes comes up with some half-assed schemes to remedy the situation, but don't get your hopes up. When he reconnects with f ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Beggar's Opera (Inspector Ramírez, #1)
  • The Thing about Thugs
  • Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories
  • Crow's Landing
  • Plan Bee (Queen Bee Mystery, #3)
  • The Murdered House
  • Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission (Jim Chapel, #1)
  • Dances with Marmots: A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure
  • Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie
  • Frankenstein on the Cusp of Something
  • Uncle John's iFlush Swimming in Science Bathroom Reader for Kids Only!
  • The Arm Of The Stone (The Stone Duology, #1)
  • Such Wicked Friends (Sandy Reid Mysteries #3)
  • The Zombie Always Knocks Twice (Hollyweird, #1)
  • National Cowboy Poetry Gathering: The Anthology
  • The Jade Pirate (Elizabeth Latimer, Pirate Hunter #2)
  • Snakes & Ladders
  • Murder Trims the Tree (A Gertie Johnson Christmas Novella)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“All photo albums are the same. Just like all dreams are the same. They mean the world to the person who owns them and they're boring as dirt to everybody else.” 4 likes
“Sometimes it's necessary to leave the room. Come back a few minutes later with a handkerchief and a runny nose. He didn't notice that kind of thing.” 1 likes
More quotes…