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The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel by…

The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel

by James Anderson

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This well-written literary fiction is a rich novel of characters and setting that happens to revolve around a mystery. Peopled with quirky folks who live in isolation along a particular stretch of highway in Utah, this tells the tale of Ben, a delivery person to the far-flung inhabitants of a rural community. We meet his customer/friends and he reveals a good deal about himself through his first--person descriptions of his community. When he encounters a nude young woman playing a stringless cello in an isolated house, we share his intrigue and gladly accompany him on his road to discovery. ( )
  sleahey | Jul 25, 2018 |
“A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.”

Ben Jones, a trucker on Route 117, dedicates his life to delivering goods to the people who live around the Utah desert. He delivers to strange characters, such as brothers, a Christian man who walks down the highway with a cross, and a man named Walt who owns a diner.

At the beginning of the novel, it is hard to discern what kind of book it will be. Yet, when Ben discovers a strange woman living in an abandoned home, you begin to feel the curiosity that a mystery induces.

We get to peer into the lives of these odd strangers that Ben has brief encounters with each week, we go on Ben’s journey as a delivers ice cream to the strange woman who plays the cello, and ultimately, as he falls in love with her.25810091

This book greatly intrigued me, yet I found it extremely difficult to finish. I found the writing to be delicious, although for a mystery novel, it fell short for me. I would still recommend this book to a friend, and rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

I was given this book by Blogging for Books http://bloggingforbooks.com/

About the Author: The Never-Open Desert Diner is James Anderson’s debut novel.


“Most people associate the desert with what is missing – water and people. They never think of the one thing the desert has more of – light. So much light.” ( )
  romymaria | May 10, 2018 |
Easily my favorite book I have read this year. Sort of a mystery but mostly a character piece. Full of great writing and a poetry of words that captured me from the first page. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
How can anyone resist a novel with a title like The Never-Open Desert Diner? I couldn’t and for the readers who pick it up, they are in for a wonderful trip through the Utah desert. I’m not one much for series, but I hope that author James Anderson is contemplating writing more stories featuring his protagonist, Ben Jones.
Ben is a self-employed delivery driver. It’s amazing that he hasn’t been put out of business by FedEx, DHL, or UPS. He almost is, as the bills are piling up faster than the noonday desert heat. He doesn’t think he’s going to make it to the end of the month.
He’s a quiet sort of guy, self-deprecating almost to a fault. He runs his truck up and down Utah’s Route 117, delivering all sorts of packages to some quirky characters. Three stand out.
First is Walt Butterfield who owns the Well-Known Desert Diner, famous for being in a number of movies.Walt keeps the place spotless and in tip-top shape. However, the diner has been closed since 1987. Walt fixes Ben a meal once in a while, but mostly his tinkers with his extensive collection of rare motorcycles. Second, is John, but most call him Preach. He runs a church in an abandoned hardware store and spends the majority of his time carrying a solid oak cross up and down the shoulder of Route 117. Last, and certainly not least, is Ginny, a very pregnant seventeen-year old Ben befriends one middle of the night in a Wal-Mart. She’s not alone and expecting, she is homeless, often living in her car. As we learn about the lies of these characters, it reminds of me of lives lived in quiet desperation.
One day as Ben is cruising down 117, he notices a glimmer in the desert that blinks and winks at him. Intrigued and having to take a piss like there is no tomorrow, he pulls onto the shoulder and walks up a small incline. On the other side, is an abandoned housing development. He heads down to check out the one house, and as looks in the window, he sees a naked woman sitting on a green chair playing the cello. Relieving himself against the side of the house, the woman come out to investigate. Her name is Claire.
As Ben and Claire begin to fall in love, some rather unsavory people show up along Route 117. Don’t want to say anything more that will spoil the amazing adventures Ben has, falling in love, trying to help Claire, trying to save his rig and his business. It’s a wonderful story.
I was surprised to learn that author Anderson grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but he must have spent some time in Utah to understand the desert as he does.

I give The Never-Open Desert Diner 6 out of 5 stars.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. ( )
  juliecracchiolo | Mar 6, 2018 |
Relaxed-paced thriller set in the Utah desert. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
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A red sun was balanced on the horizon when I arrived at The Well-Known Desert Diner.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
cello undertones
open diner love affair
mystic desert light

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0912887109, Hardcover)

BEN JONES, the protagonist of James Anderson s haunting debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner (Caravel Books, February, 2015), is on the verge of losing his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben s route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert. The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife s death. Ben s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine. Ben s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake. Ben discovers the desert is relentless in its grip, and what the desert wants, it takes. An unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that evokes a strong sense of place. It is a story that holds the reader and refuses to let go and will linger long after the last page.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

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MODERN & CONTEMPORARY FICTION (POST C 1945). Ben Jones lives a life of quiet and relative solitude, working as a trucker in one of the most beautiful and desolate areas of the Utah desert, which has become a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. But when he meets Claire, a mysterious woman he finds playing a cello in an abandoned housing development, he is drawn into a love affair that has serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Ultimately their passion reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside cafe referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that powerfully evokes an unforgettable setting and introduces readers to a cast of characters who will linger long after the last page.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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