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Jernigan by David Gates


by David Gates

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227451,069 (3.79)20

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After Peter Jernigan's wife dies in a bizarre accident on the 4th of July, he drifts through a year of heavy drinking, largely ignoring his teenage son. Shortly after the first year anniversary of his wife's death, he meets and moves in with the mother of his son's girlfriend. She is what is called a "suburban survivalist"--she lives off the grid, heating with a wood stove, largely surviving by eating the rabbits she raises in her basement, growing a vegetable garden, and dumpster diving.

This book was described as "darkly funny," and I also somewhere heard it described as an adult Catcher in the Rye. I found it very sad, although I had a hard time connecting with it. It was not a book that grabbed me.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 28, 2017 |
This novel is a swirling miasma of melancholia. In the beginning Jernigan is lying on the floor of a dilapidated trailer with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his hand. In between ingesting large quantities of gin, he recounts how he got to this lowly state. A beautiful masterpiece of sadness. ( )
1 vote hayduke | Apr 3, 2013 |
I'm interested in the theme of alcoholism as it affects families. But this was just an interminable slog. ( )
1 vote nbsp | Jun 21, 2010 |
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From Holden Caulfield to Moses Herzog, our best literature has been narrated by malcontents. To this lineage add Peter Jernigan, who views the world with ferocious intelligence, grim rapture, and a chainsaw wit that he turns, with disastrous consequences, on his wife, his teenaged son, his dangerously vulnerable mistress—and, not least of all, on himself.

This novel is a bravura performance: a funny, scary, mesmerizing study of a man walking off the edge with his eyes wide open—wisecracking all the way.
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