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The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
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The Life We Bury (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Allen Eskens (Author)

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9478413,724 (3.72)63
Member:amsuwa
Title:The Life We Bury
Authors:Allen Eskens (Author)
Info:Seventh Street Books (2014), Edition: First Paperback Edition, 303 pages
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The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (2014)

  1. 00
    The Winter in Anna: A Novel by Reed Karaim (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: similar story line: young journalism major takes on an outsized task. Upper midwest setting. Sympathetic characters with heavy doses of dysfunction.
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Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
Great storyline. Held my interest throughout although the suspense did not build until the last quarter of the book. It ended with a BANG! ( )
  sgilbraith | Feb 8, 2019 |
Great set-up, a bit too predictable by the end.
Review of the Audible Audio edition narrated by Zach Villa

The set-up here of a college student writing about a senior's life and having it turn into the hunt to overturn an unjust criminal conviction was well done. Due to Ebert's Law of the Economy of Characters the solution was quite predictable (esp. after what seemed like a too-early climax) but was still well constructed. The narration by Zach Villa in the audiobook edition was excellent.

Minor quibble: The image of a barn in winter on the cover of most editions of this book seems to have nothing to do with the actual plot. There is a shed and a hunting cabin at different points. ( )
  alanteder | Feb 6, 2019 |
Our narrator and main character, Joe, is a street-smart college student forced to struggle for everything he has achieved. He never knew his dad, and his mom is a narcissistic alcoholic who uses every weapon she can on Joe. He has an adult brother (in age), Jeremy, who is autistic and developmentally delayed. Joe is writing a biography for an English college course and is trying to interview Carl Iverson. Carl is a paroled killer with cancer living his last years out in a nursing home. He is a VietNam vet, who only has one friend, and that friend knows Carl did not kill anyone. With the pushing of his neighbour, Carl begins to investigate the murder from 30 years earlier and thinks that perhaps Carl is innocent. Carl doesn't seem to care if he is exonerated or not, but Joe does care.

I loved the character of Jo. He is caring, compassionate, honest, moral and tough as nails. His brother shows his soft side while he cares for him, although he also has a bit of a selfish side, but rightly so. The story flows effortlessly from Carl's life story to Joe's back story. The ending has a twist that didn't surprise me as there were tidbits dropped along the way. It was however very fitting and satisfying. I listened to the audiobook of this story as it had been recommended by several reviewers I follow and I am glad that I did. It is narrated by a talented actor, Zach Villa, who did a wonderful job with both the voice of Joe and Carl. This book was an excellent choice for listening to as the pacing of the narrative kept my attention throughout and my mind didn’t wander. I definitely recommend this one and will look for more books by this talented author, Allen Eskens. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
The beginning and the end seem heavily workshopped, and things weren't improved through the process. At the start, the narrator engages in rich description and images that just plain out of character, but were probably pleasing to a creative writing teacher who insisted on rich description. The ending is very dramatic (yes we must heighten, heighten!), but with no regard to plausibility. In between, the novel does a good job bringing a working, working-class college kid to life by putting him into a research-driven adventure. Eskens shows promise, but I suspect he'd be better to heed his own counsel more often. ( )
1 vote ehines | Jan 7, 2019 |
Joe Talbert needs to interview someone as an assignment for his college English Biography class. It so happens that Carl Iverson who he chooses to interview was convicted thirty years previously of rape and murder. Carl is no longer in prison but resides in the local nursing home because he is dying of cancer.

After several meetings with Carl, Joe finds it difficult to believe that Carl could have committed the crime of which he is accused. So Joe aspires to do whatever research is necessary to find the truth about the thirty-year-old crime. In doing so, he finds himself deeply involved in several very dangerous situations.

In addition to Joe and Carl, the book is populated with many other interesting characters. One of these is Lila who becomes Joe’s detective sidekick and romantic partner. Joe’s brother Jeremy offers a very realistic portrayal of living with autism. And Joe’s mother is an unreliable and self-centered alcoholic who takes advantage of Joe’s compassion.

The mystery is ably crafted making for an enjoyable audio book listening experience. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
I dedicate this novel to my wife, Joely, my most trusted advisor and best friend. I also dedicate this novel to my daughter, Mikayla, for her constant inspiration and to my parents, Pat and Bill Eskens, for their many lessons in life.
First words
I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples. There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time.
Quotations
Oddly enough, my high-school guidance counselor never mentioned the word “college” in any of our meetings. Maybe she could smell the funk of hopelessness that clung to my second-hand clothing. Maybe she had heard that I started working at a dive bar called the Piedmont Club the day after I turned eighteen. Or – and this is where I’d place my bet – maybe she knew who my mother was and figured that no one can change the sound of an echo.
That all changed the day my Grandpa Bill died. A feral restlessness descended upon our little trio that day, as though his death severed the one tether that gave my mother stability. After his death she let go of what little restraint she possessed and simply floated on the wave of her moods. She cried more, yelled more, and lashed out whenever the world overwhelmed her. She seemed determined to find the darker edges of her life and embrace them as some kind of new normal.
I needed to feed my delusion that I was not my brother’s keeper, that such a duty fell to our mother. I needed a place where I could store Jeremy’s life, his car, a box that I could shut tight and tell myself it was where Jeremy belonged – even if I knew, deep down, that it was all a lie. I needed that thin plausibility to ease my conscience.
Carl chuckled. "Well, there's that," he said. "But it also means that this is our heaven. We are surrounded every day by the wonders of life, wonders beyond comprehension that we simply take for granted. I decided that day that I would live my life -not simply exist. If I died and discovered heaven on the other side, well, that'd be just fine and dandy. But if I didn't live my life as if I was already in heaven, and I died and found only nothingness, well...I would have wasted my life. I would of have wasted my one chance in all of history to be alive."
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Book description
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran - and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, Carl has been medically paroled to a nursing home after spending thirty years in prison for the crime of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. With the help of Lila, his skeptical neighbor, Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it's too late to escape the fallout?
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"College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But by the time Joe discovers the truth, it is too late to escape the fallout"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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