James Reed, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by James Reed)
This is a dead serious book with a riotous sense of humor, Pete Dexter working on all cylinders. I highly recommend it for the reader of literary fiction and for those who ordinarily might hesitate, especially given its length.
Grand Central Publishing -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"What can you do when your twin brother, dead at birth, is your mother's favorite? This is only one of the burdens placed on young Warren Spooner, the hero of National Book Award-winner Dexter's calamitously funny and riotously tragic new novel. Spooner, who tends toward a life of criminal mischief, turns out to be a baseball phenom, but after an elbow injury puts an end to his pitching career, he ends up a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia, where he's so universally disliked that firing him is at the top of his editor's to-do list. Spooner eventually settles down, becomes a columnist and published novelist, and starts a family. He is dogged, though, by a combination of bad luck and bad judgment, and eventually retreats to Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington State, where he learns that good fences don't necessarily make good neighbors. Spooner's story is juxtaposed with that of his stepfather, Calmer Ottosson, a naval officer turned high school principal, whose dedication to his family is in direct contrast to his stepson's bellicose adventures. Although raggedly plotted, the rambunctious narrative is filled with hilarious scenes, including a naval burial at sea that goes horribly awry, a literary luncheon featuring Spooner and Margaret Truman that ends with a stampede of little old ladies, and a misguided act of vengeance that backfires and puts Spooner in the hospital. The novel's premise — that life is one big vale of tears and that writing about it wittily and exuberantly is the best one can do — might not work in real life, but it pays off in spades for Dexter and his tragicomically conflicted alter ego. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Library Journal (starred review),
"Dexter's prose is razor sharp, and every page has at least one zinger. The Georgia section in particular will remind readers of the great Harry Crews. Don't miss this."
by The Washington Post Book World,
"So, this book is different! Not exactly what Pete Dexter usually writes, but madly interesting in what it sets out to do. I freely admit to a bias: As far as I'm concerned, Dexter can do no wrong."
by Denver Post,
"This is vintage Dexter, offering gems of writing and observation on nearly every page....For all the author's riotous humor, much of the material is black as anthracite, and burns just as hot. Spooner reaffirms Dexter's place in the first ranks of contemporary novelists."
by The Portland Oregonian,
"Spooner is a fat book, and it has an episodic quality that is its strength and weakness....[W]hatever it might lack in narrative drive, Spooner more than makes up for in feeling and in linguistic riches."
by Susanna Moore, author of My Old Sweetheart and In the Cut,
"Pete Dexter, writing of the part played by love in the exuberant life of his hero, Spooner, and the fatal inevitability of the compromises that make life bearable, has given us a novel of picaresque vitality — outlandish, anecdotal, profuse, funny, profound."
by USA Today,
"Spooner, his funniest novel, is driven by spare, pitch-perfect sentences....Part of the beauty of Spooner is its droll, working-class lack of ambition — at least ambition as it's popularly practiced."
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