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William Kennedy has commented on (13) products.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Sisters Brothers

William Kennedy, January 1, 2012

Where to begin? The Sisters Brothers is without a doubt one of the most original and engaging books I've picked up in awhile. After reading, and thoroughly enjoying Mr. DeWitt's debut novel "Ablutions," I was looking forward to reading this.

"Ablutions" is a brief fantastic story of a barman who works at a downtown LA dive. Told in the second person, it mines similar terrority as Denis Johnson and Bukowski, but with a fresh and inventive narrative. For some reason, I expected "The Sisters Brothers" to be more of the same. Another tale of the down and out, the hopeless and deranged. Patrick DeWitt has grown leaps and bounds since his debut and gives us something unique - a good old fashioned Western that rips along like a horse set loose from the corral for the first time in years.

This novel bends genres and acheives something greater than just being a Western. In fact, the story itself is something universal, it just happens to be set during the early days of the gold rush.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are two hired guns sent to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. They don't question why he has to die, they simply follow orders. The journey to find Warm is a large portion of the book and allows us the chance to see how different Eli and Charlie are from each other. Charlie is brutal and selfish, a cold hearted killer with vicious instincts, while Eli is a bit softer, open to the beauty in life - or at least the possibility of finding happiness someday.

Eli narrates the story with thoughtful observations and through him we begin to understand the complicated relationship between the two brothers.

I read this book in a storm over two nights. Novels often fall into two categories, at least as far as reviewers are concerned - the literary, and the genre books. Literary means difficult and serious while genre (mysteries, sci-fi, paranormal, romance etc.) are easy and mindless reads. Of course, this is not always the case but it is a hard stigma to fight. What Mr. DeWitt does is completely ignore whatever classification his novel may be given, and tells us a ripping good story full of humor, violence, and heart. Charlie Sisters knows a little something about the way of the world and how greedy and selfish people are at their core. To find a way to be someone different in the midst of all that is Eli's goal, and Mr. DeWitt takes us right along with him.

I loved this book. I loved the way it was told and the way it made me feel. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone who enjoys great fiction.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



Sunset Park by Paul Auster
Sunset Park

William Kennedy, November 14, 2011

Paul Auster is not a writer who reinvents himself with each book, rather he continues to build a world with his novels, some of which share characters, themes, and style.

Auster has created a universe populated with the characters of his imagination - a universe of randomness and coincidence, heartbreak and redemption.

Sunset Park is a worthy addition to the Auster cannon, a very human and emotionally driven story of the young and the aging, and the similar difficulties we face. Auster presents us with a cast of characters, all very real and well drawn, whose lives intersect - not in random ways necessarily, but in the common ways that we as humans enter one another's lives.

I will not repeat the plot summary, as you can read that on whatever site you happen to view. I will say however, that I love the way Auster draws parallels between the younger characters and their older counterparts. We see Miles Heller struggle with guilt and self doubt, only to witness both his father and mother experience the same feelings and emotions. Or the way that Ellen discovers who she is and how she needs to be loved, then we see Miles' step mother in need of the same reassurance. Auster seems to be saying, "We are all human and essentially need the same things, maybe in different ways and styles, but we all need to be loved."

That is a central theme of this novel, that we are all distinctly different, but we are still very much the same.

I find Auster to be a brave writer in that he never shies away from love and all its manifestations. He gives the same time and attention to each character until we feel that we can see them clearly and understand all their various predicaments and hardships.

"Sunset Park" is a more straight forward narrative then we've seen from him in the past few years. Written in the present tense, it lends a quality of urgency to the story, as though everything is happening now, not in the distant past.

As with most Auster novels, I look forward to reading it again and picking up on the subtle nuances I may have missed the first time around.

And on a side note, his vivid description of William Wyler's 1946 film "The Best Years of Our Lives" was so impacting that I went and bought the DVD the next day.
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11/22/63 by Stephen King
11/22/63

William Kennedy, November 8, 2011

I have a feeling that if Stephen King were to lose both of his arms and legs in a terrible accident, he would find a way to type using his nose. This man needs to write like most of us need to breathe. What's intereting is that he started out as a genre writer tapping into the most primal fears of the American public. Over time he has developed into one of the most gifted writers of our time, a man whose memory of a past world is so clear and vivid that it's nearly as frightening as the monsters in his books.

King has left behind the standard horror genre for many years now, some could even trace it back to just after he recovered from being hit by a car. Something shifted in him and his writing as never been better.

I personally don't like to read massive plot summaries in reviews, there are plenty of other places to get that information. So, I will keep this simple. This book is a massive time travel epic involving an attempt to prevent JFK from being killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. That King makes all of this seem plausible is a testament to his wonderful gifts as a storyteller.

In a book this big there would have to be a lot of filler right? Wrong. Writers take note - whether you like horror books or not, pick up several King books and read them, especially some of the larger ones like "Under The Dome," or even "It" and watch how a talented novelists plots a book. 1,000 pages never seemed so small.

The writing doesn't draw attention to itself, rather it creates a very clear sense of time and place and allows the reader passage there. Maybe that's why the whole time travel plot didn't feel far fetched, because King's writing iteself is something of a time travel device transporting us back to the early 1960's.

Stephen King is a man who doesn't stop. I'm grateful for that.
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(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)



The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman
The Visible Man

William Kennedy, October 4, 2011

Chuck Klosterman's second foray into fiction shows significant growth from his debut novel "Downtown Owl," which I found to be dull, repetitive, and pointless. I've been a fan of Mr. Kolsterman's essays for some time and find his insights into all things pop culture amusing and incisive. So, I was anxiously awaiting "Downtown Owl" when I heard he was publishing a novel. That book simply lacked his trademark wit and clarity of prose. For a metal head from North Dakota, he certainly can write. For those of you who share my disappointment with "Owl," rest assured. "The Visible Man" is far better.

Rather than rehash the plot, which you'll find summarized somewhere on this page, I will say that the book is a strange and wonderful trip with a man (a potential lunatic) who finds that being unseen provides him with an enormous amount of freedom. He shares his story with a somewhat incredulous therapist who wonders why this man has contacted her...and those reasons are later made surprisingly clear. For those who plan on reading the book, I will not say anymore beyond this; when all is said and done, the plot reminded me a bit of another Chuck...Palahniuk and his fan favorite novel "Rant." There is a fair amount of genre bending in this novel as well and the results might surprise even Klosterman's most ardent fans.

I am pleased that Klosterman chose to focus on a small cast of characters - mainly the man and his therapist, thereby enhancing the narrative and keeping tightly wound. This book is recommended for those of you who like your fiction fun, and well written. This novel is both.
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(3 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)



The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Sisters Brothers

William Kennedy, September 8, 2011

Where to begin? The Sisters Brothers is without a doubt one of the most original and engaging books I've picked up in awhile. After reading, and thoroughly enjoying Mr. DeWitt's debut novel "Ablutions," I was looking forward to reading this.

"Ablutions" is a brief fantastic story of a barman who works at a downtown LA dive. Told in the second person, it mines similar terrority as Denis Johnson and Bukowski, but with a fresh and inventive narrative. For some reason, I expected "The Sisters Brothers" to be more of the same. Another tale of the down and out, the hopeless and deranged. Patrick DeWitt has grown leaps and bounds since his debut and gives us something unique - a good old fashioned Western that rips along like a horse set loose from the corral for the first time in years.

This novel bends genres and acheives something greater than just being a Western. In fact, the story itself is something universal, it just happens to be set during the early days of the gold rush.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are two hired guns sent to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. They don't question why he has to die, they simply follow orders. The journey to find Warm is a large portion of the book and allows us the chance to see how different Eli and Charlie are from each other. Charlie is brutal and selfish, a cold hearted killer with vicious instincts, while Eli is a bit softer, open to the beauty in life - or at least the possibility of finding happiness someday.

Eli narrates the story with thoughtful observations and through him we begin to understand the complicated relationship between the two brothers.

I read this book in a storm over two nights. Novels often fall into two categories, at least as far as reviewers are concerned - the literary, and the genre books. Literary means difficult and serious while genre (mysteries, sci-fi, paranormal, romance etc.) are easy and mindless reads. Of course, this is not always the case but it is a hard stigma to fight. What Mr. DeWitt does is completely ignore whatever classification his novel may be given, and tells us a ripping good story full of humor, violence, and heart. Charlie Sisters knows a little something about the way of the world and how greedy and selfish people are at their core. To find a way to be someone different in the midst of all that is Eli's goal, and Mr. DeWitt takes us right along with him.

I loved this book. I loved the way it was told and the way it made me feel. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone who enjoys great fiction.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



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