First Novels & Memoirs discussion

first novels > February: The Delivery Man by Joe McGinnis, Jr.

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message 1: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kylewilk) | 11 comments Mod
so, while we're a small group at least, let's have a little vote to see which first novel we should discuss in february. i figure, going forward, we should pick a debut novel or memoir in the first two weeks of each month to discuss anytime the following month in a threaded discussion. this way, we can remember to "vote" for our pick of the month anytime during the first two weeks of the month, and know we can jump in on the threaded discussion anytime the next month. pretty simple for all of us who, i know, have busy lives.

that's all the "thinking" i've done so far. back to some wine and friends on this friday night.

happy partying and reading.


message 2: by Kelsey (last edited Jan 21, 2008 05:10AM) (new)

Kelsey (kelseym) | 6 comments Mod
I'll nominate The Delivery Man by Joe McGinniss Jr. for discussion in February.

Word on the street is that our very own group member Ed has a review of the Delivery Man that is being published in this sunday's NYT (congrats Ed :) So we might have an "expert" able to weigh in...

message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt | 2 comments Thanks for the heads up on the review. I just read that book and liked it.

message 4: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kylewilk) | 11 comments Mod
i second that.

message 5: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kylewilk) | 11 comments Mod
ok. The Delivery Man it is...let's start reading!!

message 6: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey (kelseym) | 6 comments Mod
Hello Group!

Hope people have had a chance to read The Delivery Man.

I know it's late in the month. But wanted to see if folks would like to discuss the book? How about we start the discussion here?

Here's a short plot summary from a review of the book: The Delivery Man, McGinniss’ powerful debut novel, tells the story of Chase, an aspiring painter just out of college, who accepts a job as a high school art teacher in his native Las Vegas. It’s supposed to be a temporary thing; he and his high-powered girlfriend have plans to start a life in San Francisco. But as Chase resumes his high-school friendship with a troubled prostitute, Michele, and her pimp, Bailey, he finds himself slipping back into self-destructive habits. Before he knows it, he’s driving Michele to all her appointments, and it becomes clearer and clearer that he isn’t leaving.

Some discussion questions:
(1) How important is place in this novel? What do you think about the author's take on Las Vegas?

(2) Chase, Michele, Bailey, Hunter -- there have been severe consequences on all of these characters of growing up in the moral vacuum and amidst the naked sexuality of the city. What did you think of these characters? Did they make you angry? (well, certainly Rush might have!) Did you want to give any of them a kick in the ass? Were any of them sympathetic to you? What about Julia or "Goldman" (love that character--what a douche but in a wonderful way!) or any of the other MBA'ers, how do they fit into this crowd?

(3) In general, what were you most moved by with this book? what did you love? hate?

(4) Comparisons to Bret Easton Ellis? What do you think?

Ok - guess that's enough questions! Those are the ones that come to mind. Hope some of you read the book and have some thoughts :)

message 7: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 1 comments This book really was great-it's stuck with me for a while now.

Two things that really stuck out - the "anxious and the arrived" description of Chase's girlfriend Julia's mba friends was excellent.

And Kelsey, I agree with you on the scene with Michele and Goldman, it was just fantastic. What really worked there is that Michele is so humiliated by Goldman. It's like we've been drawn into the "clique" of Michele, Chase, Bailey and Hunter in this book and it's fun to see how this group operates, but then to see an outsider come in and take them out at the knees, exposing their weaknesses (well Michele's) with just a few sentences was why I really liked that part.

message 8: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey (kelseym) | 6 comments Mod
Hi Patrick! I agree with about the "anxious and arrived" scenes, definitely a high point in terms of juxtaposing the two very different worlds of the educated, going somewheres and the stuck in Las Vegas, caught up in the sex industry group.

[[Also, I pasted below the first comments I had about this book - including a review that I think really gets what I love about this book]]

"Find yourself here" great first sentence. Great ending all the way to the last sentence but won't post that :) Need to put a review here but in the meantime I agree with this guy:

--At first glance, this debut novel looks like a good, short read for the next time you're waiting at the airport. It's an insider's guide to the dark underbelly of twenty-first-century Las Vegas, brimming with brand names, hard bodies, hard drugs, and heavy doses of sex and violence. If that's all you're looking for, The Delivery Man won't disappoint. . . .

But once you finish it, you won't be able to get it out of your mind--McGinniss uses his fast-paced, B-movie plotline to explore how the flip side of the American dream can often be an inescapable nightmare, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald manipulated the melodrama of The Great Gatsby. In fact, The Delivery Man, like Gatsby, is the story of a lost generation. While Fitzgerald's flappers danced as fast as they could before their world collapsed in Depression and war, McGinniss's losers are stranded in an empty landscape of dead sex, coked-out emotion, and pointless danger. To his credit, McGinniss refuses to take the easy, ironic way out favored by so many contemporary writers who distance the reader from the characters. You see these doomed, wretched people for what they are, and then McGinniss allows them to break your heart. The Delivery Man is that rare first novel that could well become a classic."--Peter Bloch, Penthouse

and a couple more thoughts: The characters you meet in this novel – Chase, Michele, Hunter and Bailey are in many ways sad and despicable and there is certainly a sense of large-scale impending doom throughout. But that’s the point and the magic of this book. It reminds me so much of some of my most favorite books and authors – Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Charles Bukowski most of all. Like Clay, Hank Chinaski and Victor Mancini (from Palahniuk’s Choke), McGinniss has created characters, especially Chase, who want to move on but something is holding him back. These people are disturbing. What is so great about this story though, is that you can’t look away. I think we all know self destructive people, who should get away from destructive influences, but who seem helpless and powerless in the face of those influences. They (we) see the train wreck coming, but we don’t move out of the way. I highly recommend this book to everyone – but especially to Bukowski, Easton Ellis, Palahniuk and Hunter Thompson fans (and even JD Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgeral fans too). What a magical and painfully insightful book this is.

message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara | 1 comments I completely agree that "Find yourself here" is a great opener to this novel. It reminds me of "This is not an exit" from American Psycho and really evokes the Bret Easton Ellis style right at the beginning.

It was a quick read because I was very anxious to see what would happen to Chase and if he would ever get out of Las Vegas.

*SPOILER ALERT (If you haven't finished)*
But I should have known from the beginning that he never really would leave Vegas, as most characters in Bret Easton Ellis cannot escape their realities.

message 10: by Matt (last edited Feb 22, 2008 09:15AM) (new)

Matt | 2 comments That's not too bad of a spoiler I think (although it is somewhat) but you also read this novel to find out whether he will take over running the business or not.

The constant menacing presence of Bailey throughout helps to keep the tension, and when Bailey warns Chase that he isn't paying attention, we know that nothing good can be coming soon after that. (And a side thing, Chase and Bailey towards the end wtf???? that sure was out of the blue. I liked it though, in a weird way it seemed to fit the surreal las vegas life these kids led).

The best tension in this book though, surrounds all of the characters as they spiral more and more out of control. And really, it's everyone, but especially Michele running the escort service using MySpace and Chase's former students from Centennial High (I googled Centennial High which is a real high school in las vegas...)

I think what the author is saying about Las Vegas is that all of these characters are trapped there for different reasons. They want to do good things but it's so much easier to make money doing things you can only do there, like making quick money with tourists out of casinos. At the same time they're trying to go to school but the lure is just too great.

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