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Waxwings (2003)

by Jonathan Raban

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279669,103 (3.57)8
"At the turn of the millennium, two immigrants are drawn to the United States by their own versions of the American Dream. For Tom Janeway - a Hungarian-born English intellectual most at home with his books - it's the family he thought he'd never have. For Chick - an illegal alien newly escaped from a cargo container - it's the land of plenty he imagined back in China." "But as the stock market hits a new high, anti-globalist riots break out in the streets, a terrorist is arrested, and a child disappears, the two men's dreams collide in a way neither could have anticipated. Unjustly accused of a horrific crime, estranged from his wife and his beloved young son, Tom's life is rapidly unravelling. Chick, meanwhile, has a burgeoning business by day but no safe place to lay his bed at night. For both, the New World proves surprisingly full of old ways." "Moving rapidly from the sheetrock cubicles of an Internet start-up to fund-raising dinners in lakeside mansions, from brand-new condos to the tents of the homeless, and from businessmen's clubs, trophy cars and hip restaurants to ships being broken up for scrap, Jonathan Raban maps out the complex honeycomb of a boom city in the euphoric winter before the world changed."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Is this the definitive book on pre-9/11 Seattle? Of that time just before the 2000 dot.com crash, the years of the first startups and the WTO riots? To one who was there, it sure seems that way. I've never read a book with so many spot-on topical references, all perfectly chosen to act either as background color or foreground illustration, whichever is needed; and I've rarely read one whose characters and situations serve so well to make vivid a particular cultural moment. And I should say right away that it's also an easy reading, fun novel, frequently funny in a dry yet somehow warm way, convincing in its plot and fair to its characters. Maybe the fact that it was published in 2003, just a few short years from the time in which it's set, accounts for the vividness and lack of falsifying nostalgia, but it's a rare feat to be so clear-eyed about one's own time, to see accurately without the perspective of distance. Read it if you were there, or if you weren't. ( )
  john.cooper | Oct 21, 2019 |
Early in the book there is reference to a box that Tom keeps full of scraps that one day he might turn into a novel. I think that this book is from Raban's scrap-box. - Different stories roughly overlapped. The book didn't finish. It just stopped. I didn't really understand the Waxwing reference (I'd bought the book for old times sake remembering Pale Fire). I enjoyed the trip of reading it tho'. ( )
  Gateaupain | Aug 27, 2012 |
Slow at first, but then I really enjoyed it-- and although I'm not sure why the author ended it the way he did (in terms of the last few paragraphs), somehow, it was just right. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Jul 19, 2011 |
Novel about the immigrant experience set in Seattle. ( )
  neilchristie | Dec 30, 2009 |
Set very solidly in Seattle, about a guy with an ordinary life who gets falsely accused, and his growing relationship with a Chinese guy fixing his house, and lessening relationship with his wife. Much better than I've made it sound - great characters. ( )
  bobbieharv | Jun 24, 2009 |
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What he likes doing is blending genres, confounding categories. Fiction, non-fiction, travel, sociology. His first major book, Soft City, mixed journalism with drama, semiotics and literary criticism. Foreign Land itself began as another travel book, a false start at what, the following year, became Coasting. What he does, he says, is "what used to be called 'human geography': writing about place - about people's place in place, and their displacement in it". His views, ironic and humane, are always acute; always illuminating. His prose - agile, musky, particular - is a treasure.
 
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"At the turn of the millennium, two immigrants are drawn to the United States by their own versions of the American Dream. For Tom Janeway - a Hungarian-born English intellectual most at home with his books - it's the family he thought he'd never have. For Chick - an illegal alien newly escaped from a cargo container - it's the land of plenty he imagined back in China." "But as the stock market hits a new high, anti-globalist riots break out in the streets, a terrorist is arrested, and a child disappears, the two men's dreams collide in a way neither could have anticipated. Unjustly accused of a horrific crime, estranged from his wife and his beloved young son, Tom's life is rapidly unravelling. Chick, meanwhile, has a burgeoning business by day but no safe place to lay his bed at night. For both, the New World proves surprisingly full of old ways." "Moving rapidly from the sheetrock cubicles of an Internet start-up to fund-raising dinners in lakeside mansions, from brand-new condos to the tents of the homeless, and from businessmen's clubs, trophy cars and hip restaurants to ships being broken up for scrap, Jonathan Raban maps out the complex honeycomb of a boom city in the euphoric winter before the world changed."--BOOK JACKET.

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