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East of Denver (edition 2012)
by Gregory Hill
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0525952799, Hardcover)Lev Grossman Reviews East of Denver
Lev Grossman is the book critic for Time Magazine and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Magicians and The Magician King, and of the international bestseller Codex. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Read his review of Gregory Hill's East of Denver:
East of Denver is a slow burn, but by the end it’s burning hot: you’ll leave this book a little charred. It begins with Shakespeare Williams (never mind, it’s a long story) coming back to his hometown of Dorsey--a tiny agricultural flyspeck that is, yes, east of Denver--to take care of his father, Emmett, who’s in the process of succumbing to senility while the family farm falls down around his ears. Shakespeare has no job and no prospects. He spends much of his time tinkering with machinery and chatting with his demented dad, and their conversations are the heart of the book. They’re a comedy duo, part Laurel and Hardy, part Vladimir and Estragon. Emmett’s mind wanders as they talk, to the point where you think he’s lost the thread completely, then all of a sudden he zeroes back in and whops Shakespeare with a massive punch line. There’s black despair underlying every word they say, but it never overwhelms the humor.
Not much else goes on in Dorsey. When he’s not with his dad, Shakespeare hangs out with old friends from school, like Carissa (the world’s only fat anorexic) and Vaughn (a paraplegic), who are going nowhere about as fast as he is. (Nobody in Dorsey is in mint condition. Shakespeare himself is anosmic, meaning he has no sense of smell.) There’s only the barest ghost of a plot, involving Emmett’s failing finances, a quarter-serious plan for a bank heist, and a stolen plane, but the characters and the voices are so strong that a ghost is all the book needs. The losers chat, and the farm slowly gives in to entropy and goes dark, and you hang on every word. This is writing on a par with that of top-flight black-comic novelists like Sam Lipsyte and Jess Walter, and it deserves to be read. --Lev Grossman
(Photo © Elena Siebert)
Read more expert reviews of East of Denver
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:50 -0400)
Arriving at his family's farm in Eastern Colorado to discover his father's home in a terrible state because of the dishonest machinations of a corrupt banker, Shakespeare Williams falls in with former classmates in a plot to rob the bank that has cheated them.
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