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Nine Below Zero

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of A Stranger in this World and Into the Great Wide Open comes a novel that explores reckless love and penetrates the unrelenting winter landscape of the American West.

Marvin Deernose, a Native American carpenter and recovering alcoholic, has just returned to his Montana hometown with hopes of finding a new start.  Early one snowy morning, Marvin
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I hated this book. The characters were all unlikable (even a mother whose 4-year-old son had died), the dialog was not believable, the unlikable characters were all flat and stereotypical. As I read the book, I wondered whether I'd give it 1 or 2 stars, and then bam! the ending was such a surprise and so interesting.
May 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm seldom sorry when I read a Montana author, especially a UM professor. However, this book pulled me in initially and then beat me up with trite dialog and idiotic characters. I actually found myself wishing for their suicides. Not an author I'll seek out again.
Jeanette Lukowski
The Montana parts are what linger for me...
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Crisp and spare, snow on the plains. The relationships are what is expected, but carefully & sharply sketched. A stark, crystalline book that watches its characters honestly, full of sympathy & judgment. Scattered through with those little moments or phrases that catch your breath in your throat for just a second. A book that's all winter.


"...little messy bird's nest of a face."

"She looked at her hands like a book in a foreign language."

"Forty-foot Indian Jesus comes rolling down
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Books don't need a happy ending to be good. Gut wrenching, emotional, darkly humorous, stark, cold, and bleak. I've read this before. The back page of my copy is filled with quotes and page numbers, the book is worn, dog eared, marked-up and underlined like a textbook. This book doesn't get a high rating here and I get why. Exceptionally well written. However, the characters aren't the typical characters you root for in a book, most of the characters (while well written) are deeply flawed, not t ...more
Jul 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Typical Canty...great writing...downer of a story. Don't expect laughs and happy times from any of the characters. Do expect some of the best fiction writing from any novelist writing today. Clean, spare, fluid sentences. Canty blows me away with his succinct writing style.

Unfortunately, the damaged people on display grew very repetive and frustrating by the end and I never really bought into the semi-love story at the center of the novel--damaged as it was.
Sep 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
author canty has a spare, disjointed style that maybe many readers loath. i love it. this particular story builds and builds to a crescendo of bad decisions dumping it's shit storm on your/their head. just like you knew it would. i like Canty's characters, they know good from bad decisions, but many times (ALL the time?) pick the bad, for that just-a-chance chance to make the pain go away, for a bit.
Tina Cunningham
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
The first half on this book was gripping. A powerful Senator, saved from death in an early morning automobile accident in snowy Montana by Marvin Deernose,an American Indian; a granddaughter comes to care for her grandfather, and finds companionship with Marvin. She is emotionally damaged from the death of her four-year-old son. There are plenty of elements here to keep interest but the narrative turns into soap opera halfway through, ending unsatisfactorily. A disappointment.
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was hugely disappointing, especially since Winslow in Love is the best book I've read this year. Too much was taken for granted. The characters are said to love and hate and resent one another, but they just aren't substantial enough for these exaggerated emotions to be credible or engaging. Canty is brilliant at exploring the exquisite tragedy of wasted lives and epic failure. Given the recklessness of the characters (and the writing), this was mere farce.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Let me summarize this book for you:
"I'm sorry."
"I'm f***ed up."
etc, etc.

This seems to be a pattern with Canty's books so I think this will be my last of his for a while.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
As usual, I can never wait until Canty's next book comes out in paperback so I paid the 30 bucks or whatever for this one. It was pretty good, not bad, better than a great many other authors' best works. Two stars from me, though, because I don't think it's Canty's best.
Vicki Foster
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Some really f'd up characters, but like how the author allowed you into their thoughts and psyches.
We all have, or do we all have, some crazy thoughts at times. Most of them never escape our mouths.
This book sure made mine feel normal!
Ben Fowlkes
Apr 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
The most fun you can have being really depressed about everything. I loved the shit out of this book. Just go home and sit in bed and read it and feel sad. But not during the spring or summer. It ain't that kind of party.
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Love him as a short story author, not so much as a novelist...
Rvparks Parks
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I <3 adultery.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Didn't slightly compare with his short fiction. Should I take another stab at it? My last was about seven years ago...
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Some really powerfull passages but doesn't work out as a whole. Read Into the Great Wide Open instead.
Nicholas marshall
Jan 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
i enjoyed his short stories, but couldn't wait for this one to be over. disappointing.
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Oct 08, 2010
Rachel Ackerman
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2016
Max Pez
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Mar 30, 2010
Alex Markle
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Jun 21, 2014
Marco Bucci
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Dec 08, 2017
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May 09, 2008
Dale Gregory
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Dec 28, 2009
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May 11, 2013
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Jun 26, 2010
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May 19, 2011
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Apr 24, 2012
Thomas Neher
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Kevin Canty writes novels and short stories. He is a faculty member in the English department at the University of Montana at Missoula, where he currently resides. He received his Masters degree in English from the University of Florida in 1990, and M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona in 1993.
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