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Mount Terminus

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  46 reviews
David Grand's Mount Terminus is a dark, majestic novel about art, family, overwhelming love, and the birth of Los Angeles

After his mother's death, young Bloom boards a train with his bereaved father, Jacob, to travel west across mountains and deserts to California: Mount Terminus, their new home at the desolate end of the world. There, in a villa built atop a rare desert s
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
David Grand’s singular, beautifully written Mount Terminus could almost be read as a paean to daydreaming. At its center is the young Joseph Rosenbloom, or Bloom, as he is usually called. The boy journeys with his inventor father to live a cloistered existence, along with a few servants, atop the titular Mount Terminus, a plateau situated above pre-modern Hollywood. As Bloom matures into adulthood, the web of intrigue he is born into expands, threatening to ensnare him in the trap that once dest ...more
Ron Charles
Mar 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels-about-art
David Grand’s new novel about the germination of Hollywood is no day at the pictures. Even its title, “Mount Terminus,” sounds arduous, as though to scare off Sunset Boulevard tourists. Grand may be writing about fantasies in celluloid, but he’s engaged in serious myth-making. The magic lantern of his prose projects a dark storm of thwarted romance, industrial hubris and baroque fairy tales. A silver screen won’t be nearly heavy enough: Roll down the plutonium screen!

The story takes place on a m
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
After a strong opening, it descended into a too-literate magical realism. Clumsy, ham-handed, predictable, boring, sophomoric, self-conscious. It tries too hard and wants to be scholarly, but the voice is cloying and derivative. Is phantasmagorical, but he isn't Gogol! It's overstylized melodrama.
Jen Werner
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
David Grand’s Mount Terminus is an ultimate coming-of-age story; it also concerns itself with the coming-of-age of an artist: the protagonist, Bloom. Beyond the journeying, the discovering of self, Grand gracefully builds a dramatic and subtle interior and exterior world.

The serious business here is that Grand has written an essential origin story that builds like layers of limestone. His complicated characters grow into in a world that doesn’t quite exist yet - pre-modern Los Angeles - and this
Elizabeth Gaffney
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
David Grand is a master. I loved this book, devoured it. Grand sets such a monumental story in play, beginning with the first sentence, that one might think the pace would be slow, but the geographic timescale of his wonderful character Bloom's life is offset by incredible deftness of storytelling. Just between pages 8 and 25, Grand unspools a backstory large enough to rest a mountain on, and it keeps on going, and getting better, from there.
Jeff V.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Make no mistake this is an astonishingly good novel. In fact, it’s as good as it is ambitious which is really saying something because what this sets out to do in literary terms would make a run at high political office appear like a soft option. There is so much packed into these three hundred and sixty-four pages that it could have easily sprouted into something of biblical proportions. Gothic, baroque fairly tales filled with blood, vengeance and bad romance, sibling jealousies repeated over ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set in the early years of the 20th century, ‘Mount Terminus’ chronicles the rise of the film industry and the growth of Los Angeles through the eyes of Joseph Rosenbloom, most often referred to as ‘Bloom’. Bloom’s father is a millionaire due to his invention, a device that allowed the smooth projection of film.
When Bloom’s mother dies, his father takes him to Mount Terminus, California, to raise Bloom in isolation on the house on the hill. The elder Rosenbloom feels that his money has created a
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this novel but found it strangely inert. A few sections--for example Jacob Rosenbloom's youth and training--were bright and engaging, but the majority of the novel seems observed through a Mt. Terminus dust storm.

Let's say 2.5 stars.
Steve Essick
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful ! If only The bible, etc. were this readable I might have gotten more out of sunday school and my other educational endeavors.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Three is generous. Interesting story, boringly told. I hated the writing style and I had a very hard time paying attention to it.
Melanie  Hilliard
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Ehh ... pacing uneven (at least by my standards). Not the book about the building of Los Angeles I was expecting.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: modern-fiction
This book made me very angry.

Why is sexual assault still such a pervasive problem here in the U.S. and all over the world? Why do upwards of 1 in 3 young women in America report having experienced some level of sexual violence in their childhoods? I would submit one of the reasons is a sense of ENTITLEMENT in many young men. A sense that women can and should serve their own sexual appetites, on their own terms. Such entitlement is quite clearly on display with the main protagonist of this story,
Kyle Palazzi
May 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Really beautifully written. However, I could not finish it. The story and plot became so mundane that I completely lost interest.
Jennifer Vensel
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Kind of a tough read but a very interesting story. Very creative. Neat to imagine LA area clear and before all the development.
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Honestly not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Much more of a literary exploration of love and loss than a story of the rise of the film industry in California.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set a story in a past Los Angeles that’s never named as Los Angeles, buff it with little dialogue and sparse historical mentions till it shines a mute sepia, add a biblical flourish, spread it across one generation but with the stories of others folded in, and you have David Grand’s Mount Terminus.

It took me almost a month to get through the first 80ish pages of Mount Terminus and where every book seems to require some period of acclimation, this one took me considerably longer. The world in th
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read my review in New York Journal of Books first. Additional remarks that appeared in a different and now defunct publication begin with the next paragraph.

Books: in Mount Terminus both protagonist and Los Angeles come of age

From the time this country annexed what was then northern Mexico in 1848 New Yorkers have been moving to California to start their lives anew. In David Grand's third novel Mount Terminus (published last month by New York based publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux) a father a
Trevor Payne
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mount Terminus has an ambitious narrative scope, but it is a book that you can open at random and read a section or two, filled as it is with wonderfully crafted descriptive passages, which moment by moment illuminate the main character Joseph Rosenbloom (nicknamed Bloom). Perhaps my favorite passage of this sort is found in the section titled ‘Love’. Here we experience Bloom overcoming his reticence toward intimacy through the description of an optical device called the ‘invertiscope’. The writ ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm always in awe of books that take me to another time and place, but even more in awe of the ones that take me into another's internal reality so wholly and completely that I'm unaware I crossed a line.

I became lost in Bloom's perceived worlds and thoughts, and lost in the descriptions of a villa on Mount Terminus so grand that I would love to let it swallow me whole. And I found in the relationship between Bloom and his brother a beautiful, delicate balance of counterparts that reveals the me
Dolf van der Haven
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Mount Terminus is a highly densely written book with Steinbeckian epic potential that just does not realise itself. While reading the fitst part I was wondering if this was in fact some mystery story, due to the grim tone of it, but in the second part it moved to lighter material and seemed to cover the development of the film industry. Subsequently it attempted to increase the suspense and deal with brotherly betrayal, but that story never managed to reach a climax either. Finally, a love story ...more
Uwe Hook
Sep 16, 2014 rated it liked it
`Mount Terminus' begins in somewhat of a confusing state. There are identical twin sisters and their devoted friend Jacob. There is a wedding and 2 sons born and life lost. Jacob travels to the west coast with his son Bloom to live on Mount Terminus. There are threats against his life and mysterious followers.

The whole background slowly and painfully reveals itself. Bloom, remains for the totally of the book - just there. Even when he asks questions he is put aside by it will be revealed later a
Kasa Cotugno
The premise seemed engaging -- development of Los Angeles through the eyes of a young man whose father had invented a device enabling film to pass through Edison's device. Unfortunately, research was spotty in the execution of the progress of Hollywood as a town and as an industry. There was an exceptional story here, but this alas wasn't it. I also felt a disconnect with the characters whose personal lives didn't jibe with the story. There were a few loops that should have made their histories ...more
Lawrence Coates
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is an odd and beautiful book. It overlays both the distant and even farther distant past of California with a fairy-tale like structure of two brothers born of the same fathers and twin sisters. The book evokes the genocide of the Native Californians, the life of the Californios, the early movie industry, and the development of water and land in Southern California, through the strangely symbiotic relationship between the brothers, both Jewish, one a reclusive artist and the other a ruthles ...more
Stephanie Meyers Helms
All the important book lists said this was a fabulous book. I wanted to love this book, I really did. But I just couldn't. I loved parts of it, and the last 80 or so pages was very good. I struggled to get through some it, even though it was written beautifully. It seemed to jump around a little bit for me, and made it difficult for me to remain interested. I typically read a book in two days or less. It took me more than a week on this one because I often did not want to pick it back up. Even w ...more
I'm not rating this book, because I only made it to page 90. It is a serious MFA fever dream. It feels like an ~example~ novel, like something a computer would be programmed to create. The author uses great language, but nothing about his style is lush or convincing; he summons grand descriptions without any serious precision, without creating any permanent impressions or comprehension. The story itself is compelling, but would have been better treated by Michael Chabon.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unreadable
I give any book 50 pages, sometimes 100.

This book is soooo dull, the writing so plodding, I couldn't make it past page 40. And shouldn't something (anything!) happen by then? This only seemed to be getting worse, I kept having to go back because I couldn't remember what in the hell I was reading. And it took me 2 weeks to make it to page 40.
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This started off as promising, even channeling a bit of East of Eden in its early California/family evil and incest themes, but I felt it lost its momentum and could have been much shorter and thus more compelling. The author's formal, ponderous and almost Biblical language was also somewhat daunting and excessive.
Rebecca Chace
Sep 16, 2014 rated it liked it
This book seized my imagination and didn't let go until I reached the last page. The weeks I spent in its company were like entering a dream of another time and place. The character of Bloom got under my skin and I am still thinking about him when I wake up. This book does what the best in literature can do for you: make you want to get home soon so that at you can KEEP READING!
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it
David Grand is certainly a wonderful wordsmith. His prose is lyrical. His characters unusual and well drawn BUT I found the magical realism detracted from the story of the beginnings of Hollywood. It was written almost like Greek mythology and felt like the characters were more symbolic than flesh and blood.
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was excited to dig into this novel but I guess I needed a bigger shovel. 20 pages was all I could manage. The narrative is very distant and dry--reportorial is maybe the word. The characters seemed like cardboard cut outs with the emotional stenciled on top. Life's too short so I shelved this one.
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GOOD REVIEWS: Book review 1 31 Apr 07, 2014 10:31AM  

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David Grand is the author of Louse, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and The Disappearing Body, which Bookforum described as “satirical noir at its mesmerizing best.” Grand received his MFA from New York University, where he held the Fellowship in Fiction and studied with E.L. Doctorow. His writing has appeared in anthologies as well as The New York Time ...more

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“The land afterward was cleared by oxen, the fallen trees stripped of their bark and cut for lumber that would be used in the construction of the villa, in which the women would live as servants, on whose property their daughters terraced the mountain for orange and lemon groves, where they could see to the east from the peak of Mount Terminus their sons raising swine in the valley below.” 2 likes
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