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Amos by Stanley Gordon West
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Amos (1983)

by Stanley Gordon West

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This is a hard book to review I think because it was hard book to read. This is my first Stanley Gordon West and I have heard great things about him as a writer and maybe this isn't where I should have started, but even though I didn’t love this book it is well written.

This was an interesting look at the abhorrent conditions that some nursing homes were in and the people working in them were sadists and thieves who prey on the weak. It was tough reading at times especially if you have a loved one in a care facility but you couldn’t help but cheer for the residents and hope their big plan would work.

I don’t want to say too much more because I had the ending of this book spoiled on me and it kind of wrecked the rest of the book for me and that may have added to me not liking it as much as I should have.

I will give this author another try as I liked his style but this one was just kind a little better than just ok.

3 stars ( )
  susiesharp | Sep 10, 2012 |
I ended up buying this book along with a later West book, BLIND YOUR PONIES, which has gotten a lot of favorable buzz in the past several months. AMOS, it turns out, was West's first (self-)published book, back in the early 80s. And the premise is an interesting enough one, a group of elders in a rural Montana nursing home in the early 60s - it was actually more of a 'poorhouse' or county farm sort of place back then. And these old folks are being victimized and terrorized by the home's director, Daisy Daws, who is a 'Big Nurse' kind of character, a la Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. West's hero is one Amos Lasher, a widower in his late 70s when he arrives at the Sunset home. It doesn't take Amos long to figure out something is rotten in Denmark, beginning with the sudden demise of his roommate, a busted-up old cowboy with no family. Yes, Daisy Daws is an evil life-insurance-collecting ball-buster indeed, as is her shin-kicking abusive henchman, Roland.

Yes, people are abused and neglected, evil runs rampant at Sunset - just what the book promises. It is a classic 'good' (Amos et al) vs 'evil' (Daisy et Roland). The problem is these roles are just too too completely black and white. There are no shades of grey. But there is plenty of overwrought absolutely purple prose strewn throughout the book, which plods along at an annoying 'old folks' sort of pace. And what is most painful for the discerning reader is an annoying surplus of simply horrible and inept metaphors and similes, to be found on nearly every page. Here are a just a few examples -

"Depression covered him like an afghan." (p 124) "He looked at Amos through heavy glass lenses, his eyes magnified goldfish swimming in symphony." (also p 124) "Amos thought they were like fish in a aquarium ... nowhere to go, nothing to do with themselves, simming round and round all day over the same marbles and colored rocks ..." (p 44) "When his heart felt like wax, his plans like dust in the hurricane, Carlos, in his weathered adobe skin ..." (p 141) "... knocked over the urinal full of phlegm and urine. Like a flow of lava the nauseous mess moved slowly across the green and black linoleum ..." (p 35) ...

Aahh, what the hell, they're everywhere, and worse ones than that. Just open the book anywhere and you'll find 'em.

I will admit that the resolution to this good vs evil conflict was somewhat unique and even unexpected - and if you're gonna read it, I won't spoil the ending - but even that was ruined for me by the aforementioned purple prose and overdone adjectives. I would have liked to give the book at least 3 stars, but just couldn't. I hate to beat a dead horse, but the writing is simply too awful. I can only hope that West's writing has gotten better in the past 25 years, because I've got BLIND YOUR PONIES here to try soon. My wife is reading it now and tells me it's good. I sincerely hope I agree. ( )
  TimBazzett | Mar 16, 2011 |
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Epigraph
In the midst of winter, I found there was within me and invincible summer.
--------------------Albert Camus
Dedication
With love for

Karen and Jule and
Linda and Rebecca

delightful little girls who
grew up to be
extraordinary women.
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He was an old man, clinging fiecely to the tattered garment that had once been his dignity.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0965624706, Paperback)

Set in Montana in the early '60's, it is the story of one man who against impossible odds refused to give in to despair and hopelessness. Amos was a man who thought he'd experienced all that life had to offer when, with a capricious turn of fate, he fell through the cracks of society's institutions, into the merciless cogwheels of human apathy and carelessness. After a tragic accident that kills his wife and leaves him with a shattered hip, without family, and penniless, Amos is deposited in the county poor farm, Sunset Home, outside a small Montana town. He believes his life is over and he resolves to let go and die as quickly as possible, isolating himself from the other residents of the poor farm.

Under head nurse Daisy Daws's iron-clad rule, he notices small cruelties and injustices but attempts to ignore them in his refusal to accept this meaningless end to his life, until an unthinkable horror witnessed by chance in the middle of the night reawakens his deeply felt sense of justice. Ever so often, indifference and neglect mutate into unmitigated evil and then humanity goes on trial. Rarely, someone stands in the breach and shouts "No" with only courage and dignity as weapons. Amos, in spite of himself, becomes that person when he says aloud to himself in the darkness of his bleak little room, "I'm not going to die, by God, and I'm not going to let her get away with it!" The story of his struggle with Daisy Daws not only to survive but to overcome is a compelling testimony to the inner strength and irrepressible spirit of man. Albert Camus once said, "In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer." This became Amos's credo. With a growing respect and affection for his fellow inmates, with a newfound romance with the lovely Fern, and against devastating odds and arrogant brutality, he finds a triumph he never expected.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

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