21st Century Literature discussion

The Never-Open Desert Diner (Ben Jones, #1)
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9/19 Never Open Desert Diner > Never-Open Desert Diner-Chapter One

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message 1: by Casceil (last edited Sep 14, 2019 10:39PM) (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for The Never-Open Desert Diner. Chapter One gets a thread by itself, while we all get acclimated.

I love the way the author paints pictures of his settings with words:

A red sun was balanced on the horizon when I arrived at The Well-Known Desert Diner. Sunrise shadows were draped around its corners. A full white moon was still visible in the dawn sky. I parked my tractor-trailer rig along the outer perimeter of the gravel parking lot. The "Closed" sign hung on the front door. To the left of the door, as if in mourning for Superman, stood a black metal and glass phone booth. Inside was a real phone with a rotary dial that clicked out the ten white numbers. Unlike the phones in the movies, this one worked--if you had enough nickels.

Anderson, James. The Never-Open Desert Diner (p. 1). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Our hero is a truck driver, who drives a lonely stretch of U.S. 191 near Price, Utah, making deliveries every day. He isn't necessarily the narrator, but it feels like is telling the story. We get a real sense of his personality.

Any one have any comments on the opening chapter? First impressions, what you like, anything you don't like, or what you expect from this book?

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Gosh. Having finished, I don’t remember what I thought about the beginning other liking the vision of the big truck. It was a fast, engaging read.

message 3: by Peter (last edited Sep 15, 2019 10:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the title: A never-open diner? What?

The description on Amazon didn't tell me much, so I found myself still wondering just what was going on. (I am a sucker for a (small m) mystery -- my urge to find out what is going is strong.)

Once I started reading, Chapter 1 deepened the mystery, introduced an interesting character and the prose pleased, so I kept reading.

message 4: by Casceil (last edited Sep 15, 2019 10:35AM) (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
@ Linda J: I understand completely. I read the book a couple of months ago, and I am rereading it now, but because I did not not remember it all that clearly. Rereading it, I was struck by the opening, and the author's prose style. Over the course of the book, I got so comfortable with the author's style it I think I quit noticing how much I liked it.

I'll put more threads up today for the rest of the book.

message 5: by Whitney (last edited Sep 15, 2019 07:59PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Whitney | 2102 comments Mod
This is a book I likely never would have noticed if it hadn't been a pick for this group. I like books with a strong sense of place and quirky characters, and a bit of mystery going on is icing on the cake, so this one seemed to check all those boxes.

I went back and re-read the first chapter after your question. It does its job well of introducing the near empty desert, Ben and Walt's characters, and the small mystery of the diner that's never open. I particularly like this sentence from the last paragraph, "The highway ahead lolled in sunlight: It was mine and it made me happy. It didn't bother me that it was mine because no one else wanted it." Which sums up Ben as a bit of down-at-the-heels romantic.

message 6: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Yes, Whitney. I liked that sentence, too.

Mark | 289 comments I have fond memories of my one visit to this country. FWIW, US191 is right where it's described, but the actual state 117 is on the other side of a nearby mountain range.

One quibble- the bluffs around here aren't granite, but it sure is as lonely as he describes.

A classic of this area is Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang.

message 8: by Bretnie (last edited Sep 16, 2019 09:10PM) (new)

Bretnie | 599 comments I'm finding I really like the subtle humor in the writing so far. Or maybe not subtle, just quiet.

Also, can we add the book title to the discussion thread names? Helpful for those of us that follow the discussion via the notifications. Thanks!

message 9: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Bretnie, I meant to do that. Thanks for reminding me.

message 10: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 599 comments Casceil wrote: "Bretnie, I meant to do that. Thanks for reminding me."

Thanks! :)

message 11: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 599 comments I'm about halfway through the book and really enjoying it. The plot has certainly changed!

message 12: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
It does change as it goes along. It sort of evolves. I'm glad you are enjoying the book.

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