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Daredevils
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message 1: by Amy (last edited Jul 18, 2016 07:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments Daredevils by Shawn Vestal

About the Book: (from The Guardian review)
Mormons meet Evel Knievel – it’s certainly not the most obvious of set-ups, but it makes for a noteworthy first novel from short story writerShawn Vestal. Idaho in the mid-1970s, and two teenagers are nursing ambitions beyond run-of-the-mill adolescent escapist fantasies. Loretta is already the sister-wife of a much older man, a polygamist and fundamentalist with a large clan of his own. En masse they look like the “Ingalls Wilders”; their old-fashioned ways an “embarrassment to good, normal Mormons” such as Jason and his family. Both kids want to break out of the lives they’re living – Loretta just wants freedom, while loved-up Jason longs for the kind of adventure his idol, Evel Knievel, embodies – so together they embark on a great escape. Vestal conjures up the necessary claustrophobia and privation to great effect, this sense of slow emotional suffocation expertly mirrored in the barren, hot desert landscape.

About the Author: (source: amazon.com but recommend checking out his webpage when it is operational again)
Shawn Vestal is a columnist and reporter for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, where he’s worked for many years as a journalist and editor. He was raised in the Mormon faith. His stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Tin House, American Short Fiction, EcoTone, Best American Fantasy, and other places.

Author’s webpage: shawnvestal.com (appears to be temporarily down)

Twitter handle: @vestal13
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If you would like to chat about this book, or this author, here's a place to do so!

Happy reading!!


message 2: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments One thing I love about these tournaments is the chance to fall in love with books that were not even on my radar before. Daredevils is a great example. I'm listening to it and loving the energy of the writing and the cross-cutting among plot lines. Rick Holmes does a nice job with the narration, in case you want to try it on audio.


message 3: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments This is a nice music playlist that Vestal put together for the book. http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/a...


message 4: by Amy (last edited Jul 26, 2016 08:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments Thanks Jan! I'm working on my review for the book now and enjoying reviewing all the quotes I snagged. I really loved Vestal's commentary on the assumed elevation of men in the story contrasted with the women's choice to submit or fight. It surprisingly enough reminded me of The Girls when Evie would note how the boys seemed to know they had a place in the world while the girls waited to be invited into their world. They are both in the 70's but from very different parts of the country... CA experimenting with free love and expression and rural ID/AZ reacting negatively to the "hippies" and "women's lib."


message 5: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments Amy wrote: "It surprisingly enough reminded me of The Girls by Emma Cline when Evie would note how the boys seemed to know they had a place in the world while the girls waited to be invited into their world. ..."

Yes!! I thought of Sweetgirl a little, too, just in having an adolescent girl making her way toward adulthood despite a lot of obstacles.


message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments Jan wrote: "Amy wrote: "It surprisingly enough reminded me of The Girls by Emma Cline when Evie would note how the boys seemed to know they had a place in the world while the girls waited to be invited into th..."

oh that's funny! it's the first time I realized we have three books with a 14-year-old, 15/16-year old & 16-year-old female main character.


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments Amy wrote: "Thanks Jan! I'm working on my review for the book now and enjoying reviewing all the quotes I snagged. I really loved Vestal's commentary on the assumed elevation of men in the story contrasted wit..."

goodness! and I was just looking at What Is Not Yours, Is Not Yours again and saw this quote I snagged previously: .
With boys there was a fundamental assumption that they had a right to be there - not always, but more often than not. With girls, Why her? came up so quickly.
Apparently my reading this year has had a theme!


message 8: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments Amy wrote: "Amy wrote: "Thanks Jan! I'm working on my review for the book now and enjoying reviewing all the quotes I snagged. I really loved Vestal's commentary on the assumed elevation of men in the story co..."

Ooooh, I like this!!


message 9: by Kendra (last edited Aug 09, 2016 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kendra | 50 comments I started Daredevils last night and it's been a pretty quick read so far. I like it, but it's just not screaming tournament winner. Based on the first half I think it will be a solid 3.5, but a lot can happen in the last half of a book so I guess we will see. Also I was born in the late 70s, so like most Americans of my generation I'm very aware of Evel Knievel, but his stunts were a little before my time. I guess I had a completely different picture of his character my whole life. More like an American hero type than a hard drinking, womanizing, foul mouthed man who beat his former publicist with a bat. I still like the guy, strangely enough, but this was eye opening.


message 10: by Megan (last edited Aug 13, 2016 12:39PM) (new) - added it

Megan (gentlyread) | 67 comments I liked but didn't love this one. There was a lot of beautiful writing, but I wished for deeper, more complicated characterization from the non-Jason characters. I'm so glad alt.TOB brought it to my attention, though, and I'd be happy to see it make the actual TOB's longlist.

I didn't know much about Evel Knievel before, but I was kind of delighted to learn that there'll be another attempt at the Snake River Canyon jump this September, coinciding with the first round of the alt.TOB, I think. Neat coincidence (or not a coincidence??).

I'm interested in hearing what people thought about the sections narrated by Evel-Knievel. I loved the use of the plural third-person (or maybe even "the royal we"), the way the use makes everyone complicit in his celebrity and his status and what he thought about himself/culture, and the way the use of that plural third-person helps the man underneath evade ultimate responsibility for his actions, for who he is. And I think this says a lot about the kind of masculinity that Vestal's interested in interrogating. But at the same time, these sections were far less interesting to me--because I didn't know much about him to start with, probably, and because there wasn't a plot aside from Real Life Things That Happened. What did other people get from these sections?


message 11: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments Megan wrote: " I'm interested in hearing what people thought about the sections narrated by Evel-Knievel. I loved the use of the plural third-person (or maybe even "the royal we"), the way the use makes everyone complicit in his celebrity and his status and what he thought about himself/culture, and the way the use of that plural third-person helps the man underneath evade ultimate responsibility for his actions, for who he is. ..."

I think you nailed it, Megan, and I'm not sure I can add anything to your observations. I really enjoyed those sections, partly because the royal we seemed like a gutsy choice and maybe for what the sections deepened our insights into Jason and Grandpa and the world they were part of.


message 12: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan (gentlyread) | 67 comments Jan wrote: "I really enjoyed those sections, partly because the royal we seemed like a gutsy choice and maybe for what the sections deepened our insights into Jason and Grandpa and the world they were part of."

Oooh, I agree with that! It was a good use of pop culture / celebrity to illuminate its effects on the world of the main story.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments I was amused by the Royal We, but found the narration itself was so tedious after a while. A fraction of Kenival's story would have done the trick for me, but I have other negatives about the novel that may have made me less tolerant.

Towards the end, when Jason & Boyd were asking, "who are you" over and over again, and Lori just shrugged - instead of reading it as "I contain multitudes" I was skeptical about Vestal. He let the pressure build in her so well during the marriage, then did some hand-waving "oh she had this in her the whole time" stuff to explain any kind of action he had her take. Regardless of how It fit with what we'd seen of her to that point.

Jason was very consistent - his actions are so wholly him. Boyd the same. And Dean. But Ruth barely had enough interior (beyond what her exterior showed us already) to explore individually, and Lori was for Vestal what he had her say she didn't want to be for other men: a vessel to be moved about at their convenience.


message 14: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments Melanie wrote: "I was amused by the Royal We, but found the narration itself was so tedious after a while. A fraction of Kenival's story would have done the trick for me, but I have other negatives about the novel..."

Good points, Melanie. I was dissatisfied with the way he handled the ending for Lori and you've helped me understand what was bothering me. Thanks!


message 15: by Drew (new) - rated it 3 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Megan wrote: "I'm interested in hearing what people thought about the sections narrated by Evel-Knievel. "

Mostly, I was just annoyed by them. Maybe because I was already a young adult by 1975 and I had enough background to go with the name.


message 16: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments I found them to be comic relief as well as an example of a no-filters male braggadicio. I read them as meant to be an exaggerated reflection on the other men in the story.

but I also liked them I think because all my Evel references have been from Loony Tunes and their ilk - (e.g. "Cars" Mater Tale Tales) which are definitely romanticized. I never pictured him as a red-neck, salt-of-the-earth character. I can see why he would be a folk hero as a result... especially in an era before YouTube.


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