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Cities of Men: A Novel
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Cities of Men: A Novel

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  35 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In 1987, twelve-year-old Cooper Balsam's mother, Arden, disappears without a trace. Cooper's father, Percy, a Vietnam veteran struggling with PTSD, doesn't seem too concerned. "This isn't the first time. She's done it before." As days pass, Cooper begins to act out and withdraw from the world, and his growing animosity toward his father's ambivalence begins to escalate eve ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Turner
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Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cooper, up until this point has been living an unremarkable life. His parents are neither rich nor poor, his house neither big nor small. His mother Arden seems to long for the finer things, not just for herself but she wants Cooper to want them for himself as well. His dad is a hard worker, and seems to be a good father and husband.
One day 12 year old Cooper and his father Percy come home from a movie to an empty house. Cooper's mom is gone. A note simply stating "good-bye. I've gone off on an
Chris Riley
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have a feeling that this debut novel of William's is only the tip of the ice berg, for the amount and depth of the stories he has yet to share with us. I was profoundly moved by Cities of Men, and not just because of the amazingly coincidental setting that the majority of this story takes place in -- the very streets, and restaurants, and town that I grew up in. Such familiarity was quick to pull at my heart strings. But beyond this real landscape, the literary landscape I found to be just as ...more
Lawton Cook
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cities of Men captivated me from the first page. Jensen introduces his characters in the rain, and the emotional storm of the novel never lets up. The story saddens page by page, examining big subjects like the effects of war and parental neglect, but the novel has plenty of bright spots as well. The characters Jensen has created are enjoyable to read, and it's obvious he has been working with these characters for quite some time. Coop is a first rate lens through which to view the world, and th ...more
Bobby O'Mara
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic story. Thank you William Jensen!
Kathy Church
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was really impressed with this book. It is about Cooper and his father. His mother Arden just decides to leave without any notice. The book is written from Coopers point of view and you can feel his heartbreak and struggles as he goes through this difficult time in his like. Very well written. This book will capture your heart.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm starting to give myself a little time before writing reviews for books to let the narrative settle a bit. Otherwise, I jump the gun sometimes and write "it was so good, read it!" reviews. That's usually true, but this book in particular was definitely one that I sped through because it was indeed an easy read. An easy read is tough to use as an identifier here though, since the story is not happy in any sense of the general term, BUT is great because it is realistic. I'd imagine there are ab ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
Pretty good book as told from a teenage boy POV, good pace with plenty of conflict and mystic.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parents’ Shortcomings Affect Their Children

Twelve-year-old Cooper is a lonely little boy. His father suffers from PTSD. His mother is somewhat remote, but she is the one person he can communicate with. Cooper thinks he lives in an average family until his mother leaves telling him and his father that she is off on an adventure.

At first Cooper waits for her to come home. He doesn’t understand why she left, and soon he begins to act out. His father is also clueless about his mother’s motivations
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been meaning to set down a few thoughts on this book for a while. Not a review per se, but some thoughts.

(1) I am really glad that the author is a somewhat distant relative or this book might not have come to my attention (via my mother). I tend toward fantasy and sci fi rather heavily, although I will read most anything.

(2) I was particularly struck by the author's use of language. For me, it uniformly evoked a vivid mental picture and I often found myself viscerally responding to secti
Craig Terlson
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel that will stay with me a long time - and I don't say that lightly.

The characterizations and tight prose in Cities of Men reminded me of early Richard Ford, especially his novel Wildlife—in fact the novel read like a classic, with echoes of Carver, and maybe even Sherwood Anderson or Updike. But Jensen's book is more than a homage to these past greats. The story is electrifying in a way that I don't see much anymore. The charge is an emotional one, the human condition spilled out
Maddy Peden
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to be captivated by its setting but I felt like I never quite reached that. The details were described beautifully and intricately, but it was all mundane things that didn't contribute much to my grasping of the setting and environment. The tone was extremely cynical and nihilistic, which would have been fine if not for the fact that it was supposedly from the view of a 12 year old. None of the characters were likeable. It had the vibe of a coming-of-a ...more
Levis Keltner
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Cities of Men" is about childhood, but not for kids. Jensen's writing is strong and sensitive. The story is original and pulls you along with the thread of mystery surrounding Cooper's mom's disappearance. The novel returns readers to that time when much of the adult world was a yet-to-be-discovered mystery, and the shock that our parents are people; they come with their own baggage that mixes into our own. Raw, real, and suspenseful, "Cities of Men" explores the burden of family history and de ...more
Christy White
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Apr 17, 2018
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Feb 12, 2017
William Jensen
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Feb 28, 2017
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rated it it was ok
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William Jensen grew up in California and Arizona. He has worked as a day laborer, a landscaper, a groundskeeper, a dishwasher, a professional mover, a teacher, and an editor. His short fiction has appeared in NORTH DAKOTA QUARTERLY, THE TEXAS REVIEW, STONEBOAT, and in other various journals and anthologies. He now lives in Texas. His debut novel, CITIES OF MEN, is available now wherever fine books ...more
More about William Jensen

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