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Stars and Bars by William Boyd

Stars and Bars (original 1984; edition 1999)

by William Boyd

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493733,686 (3.25)11
All Henderson Dores dreams of is fitting in. But America, land of the loony millionaire and the subway poet, down-home Bible-basher and sharp-suited hood, of paralysing personal frankness and surreally fantasized facilities, is hard enough for an Englishman to fit in to. Henderson could never shed enough inhibitions to become just another weirdo. Or could he? This hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy, which Boyd also adapted for screen for the 1980s film starring Daniel Day Lewis, was described in the Guardian as, 'Splittingly shrewd and engaging ... with an extra and uneasy little something fretting away at the ribald content'.… (more)
Title:Stars and Bars
Authors:William Boyd
Info:Penguin (1999), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Stars and Bars by William Boyd (1984)

Recently added byDavidWRoberts, private library, jacobsj, aguedamenendezmorro, EBCERN, larkrise, aloub
  1. 00
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Satirical in the American South

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It's a long time ago I read a novel so quickly as Stars and Bars, both because it is a riveting and easy read, and because I was down with a cold and needed something to cheer me up. It is Boyd's funniest book to date, and reading it is like watching a mad caper movie. Yes, there are some shallow characters in here, and Boyd takes at times the easy route to keep the story moving, but Henderson Dores, a hapless Englishman in the US, is a believable and lovable protagonist. I at least felt for him and all the continuous disasters he faces. Some of the scenes are truly hilarious, and I laughed out loud more than once. Boyd has shown what a versatile writer he is. This is him at his most enjoyable. ( )
  petterw | Dec 30, 2016 |
“The best often seem the worst”
― William Boyd

Henderson Dores, an English art historian fast approaching 40 has moved to New York in the belief that America will change not only his life but also his character. There he works for an auction house as a valuer.Henderson is a stereo-typically inept British gentleman constantly getting the wrong end of the stick, and getting into awkward situations entirely due to his own fault. In New York, he has become re-engaged with his ex-wife but is also involved while in a clandestine affair with another woman. When he is sent to the deep South to value an elderly recluse's collection of paintings he becomes involved with the recluses wacky family and entwined in their antics. These people, the prickly father, the angry son and his Southern gal wife, the enigmatic daughter, the Viet Nam veteran, the truculent housekeeper and her son can also be seen as pretty stereo-typical.

Now whilst I quite enjoyed this book and it did make me smile if not actually laugh I felt that there were some shortcomings. Personally I felt that Henderson was just far too innocent, too polite and well bred ever to express anything but bewilderment. I felt that the author was trying to so rigidly stick to the stereo-type that he had imagined that he stopped the character from really forming. In fact I just wanted to shout at him "to grow a pair and man up'. Also I found the angry eldest son very predictable and was not at all surprised as to reason why he disliked Henderson. However, as I said it did at least make me smile so that can be no bad thing. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Aug 20, 2016 |
Stars and Bars in one of Boyd's early novels. The story of a rootless English art expert, Henderson Dores, who has secured employment in the USA to aid his efforts to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife, it comically recounts the tale of a disastrous trip to the American south to secure art works for his employers to sell. Things go from bad to worse as along the way we're introduced to the ex-wife's teenage daughter, a reclusive millionaire, the latter's near homicidal son and eccentric daughter. The style of writing Boyd uses in this novel is one he developed and refined for his later masterpieces like The New Confessions or Any Human Heart. Similar too is nature of the lead character: an intelligent British man searching for security and a fulfilling existence, yet somehow unable to seize control of the the events in which he becomes enmeshed. ( )
1 vote YossarianXeno | Dec 5, 2011 |
I discovered William Boyd quite a few years ago and was very impressed with the two novels I read. Then he fell off my radar screen. Recently, I've begun reading more of his novels and I have yet to be disappointed. In Stars and Bars, Henderson Dores is unhappy with his life and after a brief self-analysis, decides all his problems are the result of his English tendency to "shyness", an extreme timidity in asserting himself. He admires Americans as the consummate models of confidence and self-assertion. He takes a job in New York with a private art dealer and attempts a reconciliation with his American ex-wife while simultaneously beginning an affair with another American woman. He is sent to a rural area of Georgia to acquire some valuable paintings and finds himself in a series of disastrous but humorous events which spiral out of his control. I was reminded of Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, where bizarre circumstances seem to bring out the man's every weakness. If you like British black humor, you'll enjoy this. ( )
  Oregonreader | Jun 27, 2009 |
Somewhat funny, good description of "white trash" America. ( )
  Zohrab | Mar 8, 2008 |
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