Bonnie's Reviews > The Ploughmen

The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan
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really liked it
bookshelves: gothic-southern-country-noir, arcs-netgalley, arcs-librarything

"One thing I always did, Val, was to live my life. It wasn’t a particularly interesting life but it was on my terms. Now in here I’m just living it out. [...] Now it’s just waiting. It’s only a life technically because you’re breathing in and out. Putting in the time until you clock out."

​The Ploughmen is a meandering tale that switches point of view between two men: John Gload, a 77 year old that has spent his life as a contract killer but is inevitably caught and his jailer, Valentine Millimaki who is a quiet and introspective man with a painful past and difficult personal ​issues ​he’s currently dealing with between him and his wife. These two men strike up a surprisingly quick bond between one another ​during Millimaki’s graveyard shifts at the jail, ​reminiscing on their lives, ​connecting in twilight over their shared ​bouts of ​insomnia.

​​​ 'Then he corrected himself, said no, that’s not quite exactly right, it wasn’t tricking himself but tricking the insomnia, which he imagined as a palpable thing, a kind of shade or haunt that bent over him in his repose, passing rattling hand bones in the air above him to ward off the visitation of sweet slumber.​'

There is violence but little action, mostly reflection, between the pages of this small yet potent novel. The Ploughmen is a ​somber ​story about life and hardships and learning to simply survive them.​ It’s written in such a way without a clear sequence of events, which I attributed to Millimaki’s continued sleepless days and nights, but doesn’t leave the reader feeling groggy but instead with that dreamy weightless feel.

​​​​​ 'Perhaps she’d stood gazing uncomprehendingly at the emerging stars, in their milky light superimposing the enormous order wheeling overhead onto the map that seemed to hold her life in its obtuse loops and lines.'

​Even if the story is not one you would typically read, the skillful writing style that Zupan possesses makes it completely worth while just for the experience alone. Stark yet completely stunning, the incredibly descriptive passages tell a story all on their own. The Ploughmen is an incredibly impressive debut and I can only hope that it’s not the last we’ve seen of this talented author.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Reading Progress

June 3, 2014 – Shelved
June 3, 2014 – Shelved as: not-yet-released-2014
July 1, 2014 – Shelved as: tbr-arcs-finished-review-copies
July 9, 2014 – Shelved as: gothic-southern-country-noir
September 7, 2014 – Started Reading
September 8, 2014 –
page 17
September 8, 2014 –
page 19
7.42% "'Perhaps she'd stood gazing uncomprehendingly at the emerging stars, in their milky light superimposing the enormous order wheeling overhead onto the map that seemed to hold her life in its obtuse loops and lines.'\n \n This is deliciously wordy."
September 8, 2014 –
page 52
20.31% "This book is incredible."
September 10, 2014 –
page 97
September 13, 2014 –
page 125
September 15, 2014 –
page 225
87.89% "'He stopped in the road and held up his hands against the sky as if he might sift the stars in their billions through his fingers and make sense of the equivocal black like an ancient pyromancer.'"
September 15, 2014 – Finished Reading
May 14, 2015 – Shelved as: arcs-netgalley
May 14, 2015 – Shelved as: arcs-librarything

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Chelsey (new)

Chelsey I picked this up this morning based on your use of the word "incredible" lol.

Bonnie The story is only so-so for me but the writing is blowing my mind. I want to write like this guy when I grow up. lol

message 3: by Chelsey (new)

Chelsey I think there's about one word in every sentence that I don't understand. Eek!

Bonnie I consider myself to have a somewhat decent vocabulary but yeah...I've been keeping the dictionary handy too. haha

message 5: by Rory (new)

Rory O'Connor I'd like to think I have an excellent vocabulary, but I had to highlight quite a few words too - gravid, anyone?

Bonnie This book was the first time I'd heard of that one. haha

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