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Citizen Vince

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,621 ratings  ·  484 reviews
Darkly hilarious and unexpectedly profound, Citizen Vince is an irresistible tale about the price of freedom and the mystery of salvation, by an emerging writer of boundless talent.

Eight days before the 1980 presidential election, Vince Camden wakes up at 1:59 A.M. in a quiet house in Spokane, Washington. Pocketing his stash of stolen credit cards, he drops by an all-night
Paperback, First paperback edition, 304 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Regan (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,621 ratings  ·  484 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Steve
”Voting is for assholes, like paying taxes. Or having a job. And guns--big fuckin’ deal. You can always find a gun on the street. Any felon can buy a gun. But just try to vote in jail. You can’t do it. It’s funny, you think about it, the only thing we can’t something we don’t even care about doing.”

 photo ReaganAndersonCarter_zpsde92549c.jpg
Carter...Anderson...Reagan...more choices than normal.

But the thing of it is it is 8 days away from the pivotal presidential election in 1980 and Vince Camden does care. For the first time
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Vince Camden is a lot like that guy in the old commercial who would wearily trudge out of the house before dawn while muttering, “Time to make the donuts.” Only in addition to making the donuts, Vince is engaging in selling pot and running a credit card scam.

Vince is a former mob guy living in the witness protection program in Spokane WA in 1980. While he actually enjoys his job at the local donut shop just as birds gotta fly and fish gotta swim, Vince has to engage in some petty crime while
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What a great frickin’ book. It’s my first Jess Walter, but certainly won’t be my last. This is a hard one to categorize, which to me is part of the appeal. I suppose you’d call it a crime drama more than anything else, what with made guys, high-stakes poker, low-level scams, hookers, dope, and countless misadventures all presented in the crisp, colorful patois of the street. But it’s smart and funny, too. Even edifying at times. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the writing can verge on ...more
Tom LA
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jess Walter has that "magic something" that puts him a notch above most contemporary novelists. There are so many ways in which this novel about a small time criminal living in Spokane, WA in a witness protection program could have gone wrong. Basic plot elements, style and charachters could easily have led this book straight into the immense garbage bin where not-that-good crime novels belong. But Walter adds his secret ingredients and this noir story becomes a unique, brilliant, powerful, ...more
Betsy Robinson
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

Thank you, Jess Walter, for the unforgettable character of Vince Camden in a crime caper that includes everyone from Mafia bosses and thugs to a postman, to Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Thank you for a plot that veers from funny to moving and everything in between without ever losing truth because it is written with literary excellence and a love of architecture in all its forms.

This book was thrilling, entertaining, and actually made me forget about the leak in my
Gary  the Bookworm
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Citizens
Recommended to Gary by: Suzanne Branch and Steve Hotopps
I'm guessing that Jess Walter was as upset about the 2004 Presidential election as I was. We handled our disappointment differently: I drank a lot of vodka and he wrote an amazing book with an unlikely hero. Vince Camden is living in Spokane WA where he manages a donut shop. He also pals around with local hoods and works a scam with credit cards. He isn't too happy but he seems satisfied until the day he starts counting people he knows who are dead. Things get complicated when he begins to think ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I really liked this book, and Jess Walter is an excellent writer. Great read!
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

“Pot smoking cops, thieves who tithe 10 percent, society women who wear garters, tramps who sleep with stuffed bears, criminal donut makers, real estate hookers”

This was a lovely surprise of a novel and my first by this author.

I particularly liked Vince, who had depth, humour, and a clear drive to figure out his life.

In his previous life he was known as Marty, a small-time credit card fraudster in New York, who ends up in a witness protection programme in Spokane, making donuts for a
Julie Christine
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Gary McTiernan
Vince Camden and I had our political awakenings at the same time: Autumn, 1980. Jimmy and Ronny, the embassy hostages, Afghanistan, Iran—Iraq War, Abscam, inflation. Not too mention John Lennon, Mt. St. Helen’s, Rubik’s cube, the Moscow Olympics, Bjorg and McEnroe, Sony Walkman. Bruce, Billy, Pat, Blondie, The Police, Dire Straits, ska, New Wave. Come to think of it, 1980 was a pretty fucking memorable year.

The thing about my intellectual awakening vs. Vince Camden’s: I turned 11 a couple of
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't usually buy or read books about convicted felons, but I just discovered Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins. I decided to give Citizen Vince a try,
Vince immediately tells us that he is in a witness protection program, and that he deals in pot and stolen credit cards. His friends are hustlers, card sharks and hookers. His day job is donut maker at Donut Make You Hungry in Spokane. He trusts them as much as he trusts himself.
Vince is a good-bad guy like Paul Newman and Robert Redford
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a tense, character-driven, profound tale of redemption.
Shelves: favorites

Gritty realism is the perfect way to describe Jess Walter’s third novel, Citizen Vince.
From the opening sentence, “One day you know more dead people than live ones,” this Spokane native reeled me in, and I strongly suspected that this was the right book for me, at that given time. More importantly, I saw something special about Walter’s incredible precision that I simply had to have more of… and I did, obviously. By the end of the night, I’d read a good forty, fifty pages (I’m ordinarily a
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this is a crime thriller lite, not really a crime thriller, more like the story of a very meaningful week in the life of vince camden, a small time criminal living in spokane, WA, on a witness protection program. since jess walter is super magical the story is really great. it's funny, sweet, and all sorts of smarts. the week in which walter decides to snapshot vince camden is the week that precedes the election of reagan as US president and the demise of jimmy carter. there's a lot about this ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Y'all, I read this ages ago and added it to Goodreads when I first joined, thus no review. Id jot one now but am running fast n furious this morning. Sorry!

The ebook is on sale for $1.99, I just saw from a Bookbub email, and it is absolutely a steal. Jess Walter is one of my favorite authors ever, and other folks' reviews will give you a feel for his style.

Time to make the donuts - enjoy!
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Once again, Jess Walter has managed to break my heart. Citizen Vince was a great, though not particularly enjoyable, read. Walter manages to infuse his uniquely dark humor into a tragedy that at times veers to an existential condemnation of the lives we lead, then turns to a blinding realization that maybe the simplest dreams are the ones that make life worth living.

Vince Camden is a petty thief, though not of the garden variety. He is smart, charming, and introspective. He is also living in
Carla Stafford
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Vince (the Donut Man) Camden is a cool character-a memorable one. He is a second rate crook, a charming cad, a bit of poet, and a pinch of a philosopher. He is the type of person that helps us all to keep believing in humanity...because the cocky smooth talking thief, may just have a heart of gold worth the rigorous polishing process.

Jess Walters' biggest strength as a writer, as far as I am concerned, is his ability to write characters that he expertly weaves into your memories as though they
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A most enjoyable read. Vince Camden is a small time crook who is relocated by the witness protection program from NYC to Spokane. While this sounds like a plot you have seen in countless noir thrillers in Jess Walters' hands the usual is elevated through the intelligent fresh writing, the humour and the vividness of the characters to unexpected heights. Always a great suspense novel it is also a deeply funny slice of reality, a social history piece, and most oddly a moving story of redemption. ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
"A great nation is like a great man.....
He thinks of his enemy as the shadow
That he himself casts."

---Tao Te Ching

This inscription provides a clue to the main theme of 'Citizen Vince'. As the quote is on the first page of the book, I paid particular attention to the 1980 Presidential contest between Jimmie Carter and Ronald Reagan which fascinates Vince Camden, the thief who is our 'hero'. Having been convicted of a felony as a younger man than he is now, which is currently age 36, he lost the
Frequently, Edgar Best Novel winners are a bit more literary that the usual run of mysteries and thrillers. This doesn't necessarily mean they're better books in terms of writing or entertainment, but that they examine a deeper issue than "whodunit" or "will the good guy escape the bad guy." Such a book is Citizen Vince.

When this book came into the house, my husband read it first. He warned me not to read the jacket copy before beginning it, just to plunge into the story, which was good advice.
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, read-2008
It's the Christmas holidays, and over pizza the other night my mom, brother and I sat discussing what makes literature good - an argument that ultimately came down to what we want from reading: my mom wants to learn something; my brother wants it to be art; and I think of it largely as entertainment, albeit entertainment that can teach and edify as well. This book does a lot of that - at its base, it is a well-paced thriller that leans heavily on fairly rote mob fare and a good shake of ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This one has been far down in my to-read pile for far too long. I'm glad I finally got to it. I can't do better than quote Nick Hornby: ", thoughtful, and funny. I loved this seemed to know that what I needed was pace, warmth, humor, and an artfully disguised attempt to write about a world bigger than the one its characters live in." It is set in the week before the election of 1980, Jimmy Carter on the way out, Reagan on the way in. Vince is a felon in the witness protection ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A perfectly delivered crime novel with a series of interlocking premises that create a moral center, a fascinating protagonist, and a taut plot. Nearly perfect. Can't believe it sat on my shelf for so long. Our hero Vince Camden, a low-level scam artist, is living in witness protection in Spokane Washington, having ratted out a made guy in Queens. The appearance of another guy from "the world" sets into motion a delicious string of events, all in the context of the 1980 Reagan-Carter election. ...more
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
I'm bummed. I don't know why I went from reading Jess Walter's "The Zero" to reading his novel "Citizen Vince," when I didn't like "The Zero." Oh wait. Now I remember. I loved his novel "The Financial Lives of the Poets," and I had read reviews of "The Zero" in which readers said they didn't like The Z. but they loved C.V. So, I thought I'd give this novel a shot. It wasn't available for my Kindle, so I actually bought the paperback, which is probably why I slogged through it. (This made me ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love Jess Walters.
The man is able to be funny, insightful and basically brilliant without being pretentious or annoying. Also, he is incredibly original.
This story chronicles Vince, a man in witness protection who is try to stay protected while engaging in credit card fraud to fund his new life. What's interesting about this story is how you have to just accept his loose moral standards because otherwise he is a fine protagonist, which is a neat trick to play with your reader, and also that
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book based on a recommendation from Nick Hornby in his "Believer Magazine" column. Mystery/crime titles are not my usual genre, but this was a fun and very wild ride! I powered through it in two days, mainly because it was painful to put down. It was funny too, and full of heart, in between the cruder moments (to be expected) when mob killings are a real possibility. The main character is in a witness protection program, leading a new life in Spokane, Washington as a donut maker in ...more
Claudia Putnam
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Walter can write. And he can characterize. And you don't get to read about Spokane that often. But you know, gambling. And the mob. Just kind of a blah topic for me. And guys who can't get it together. At least Vince does try, in the end, and there's a textbook arc here. As with Beautiful Ruins, the book was a little too polished, I guess. Maybe it's four stars.
John Owen
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Walter is great at creating a scene with believable characters and perfect dialog. He manages to capture what makes these characters tick. This is an interesting story about a unique character with lots of interesting observations about life and politics.
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Exquis. Extravagant. Eerie. Excellent!
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
--A friend recently turned me on to Jesse Walter's work and I instantly became a fan.
This being my third of his books, I am becoming used to his particular voice as a writer which not to insinuate that he is churning out cookie-cutter retreads. To the contrary, each book so far is a singular escape from daily life as we ride along with Walter's characters on one of theirs. The only common thread among these works is the writer's nuanced telling of the story. You'll find no common themes. N0
Jim Leckband
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A novel written in the quaint days after the second GWB election and set in the equally quaint run-up days to the 1980 election where there is a lot of chatter about a presidential candidate colluding with a foreign power to get elected.

I won't get into the plot here, the reviews on this book have that covered. However, I will comment on the hitman character Ray "Sticks" who is a sociopath. Can't see any resemblance between the name "Ray Sticks" and Ray Gun or Reagan, can you? Let me tell ya
Donna Siebold
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Vince lives in Spokane. He makes donuts for a living and sells stolen credit cards on the side. He feels isolated and removed from the people with whom he interacts.

It turns out he is in witness protection. Everything begins to change for him when he receives a voter registration card in the mail. He has been a lifelong criminal and only his new identity gives him this opportunity.

Like most things, Vince doesn't know how to select his candidate. The people who work with him in the credit card
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Jess Walter is the author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe among many others.

Walter also writes screenplays and was the co-author of Christopher Darden’s 1996
“That’s why people write books and stories, no doubt, to leave some impression behind, to share a sense of the beauty and pain. This” 0 likes
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