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July, July by Tim O'Brien
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July, July (2002)

by Tim O'Brien

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538None18,819 (3.38)27
Member:chuckyxchess
Title:July, July
Authors:Tim O'Brien
Info:Penguin Books (2003), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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July, July by Tim O'Brien (2002)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I enjoyed the book, a look at people. It was real. ( )
  annoutwest | Jul 24, 2013 |
I did not enjoy this book at all. All of the characters were bitter and few of them had any likable qualities. I thought it was boring and had to force myself to read it. ( )
  tahoegirl | Jul 26, 2012 |
Tim O'Brien's novel July, July is a subtle and sensitive work of pathos, humor, and humanity. It is the year 2000, and alumni of a 1969 college class have gathered for their 30th reunion -- held a year late due to disorganization of the classmate who scheduled the event. The novel traces their interactions during the long reunion weekend, interspersed with flashbacks to past events that formed each of the characters.

The individual characters are distinct and well drawn, and their histories (as recounted through the flashbacks) range from amusing to quirky to tragic. O'Brien is an excellent writer, and a master of understatement. He can say in a small phrase what might take another writer several pages to overexplain; indeed there are a few phrases in the book that haunted me for weeks after finishing it. Likewise, the characters are memorable -- I still smile at recalling some, as if they were personal friends. I recommend this novel highly, and expect that I shall read it again.

I find a few of the LT reviews of this novel inexplicable. Two reviewers blame the book for being like the movie The Big Chill, a film that has virtually nothing in common with this book other than the fact that in each case, old college friends gather years after graduation. Another self- appointed critic offers a puerile rant against "navel-gazing" (sic) "flower children". Perhaps he confused this book with something else he's read, since in July, July there's not a "flower child" in the group (after all, one's a wounded Vietnam War veteran, another an expatriate who moves to Canada, another a dyed-in the wool Republican, another an overweight corporate executive, and so on).

For the mature reader able to take this book on its own terms (and not to bring to it the baggage of petty resentments and false expectations), July, July offers a wonderful reading experience... subtle, understated, sensitive, wistful, and satisfying. I am glad I stumbled on this book, and plan to seek out other novels by this talented author. ( )
4 vote danielx | Sep 6, 2010 |
At first glance, JULY, JULY might appear to be little more than a rehash of the movie The Big Chill. From the start, you know the characters have gathered for a college reunion of the class of 1969, and one of them (a woman named Karen) has been murdered. The resemblance is uncanny. However, such a comparison would do the book a huge disservice.

Like The Big Chill, this book is an ensemble piece. None of the characters truly seem to dominate it, although the story starts off with Amy Robinson and Jan Huebner – two women, both divorced, both alone and both getting drunk and looking to get laid. The women provide a somewhat detached perspective on the reunion (although the reader gets to hear their individual stories and personal problems, too). Their comments about the others help set the stage for what's to come.

Those others – at least seven, along with some minor (but still significant) characters – have various relationships with one another, harbor old secrets and grudges, and suffer broken hopes and dreams, as well as unrequited love. Although this sounds cliched, the story gives a fresh spin on the old reunion formula by telling the story in shifting perspectives and time frames, showing how the characters' lives have intersected and delving deeply into their personalities and situations, thus compelling one to find out how each makes out in the end.

Read more at: http://modern-american-fiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/review_of_july_july ( )
  infogirl2k | Oct 14, 2009 |
It is July of 2000, and the members of the class of 1969 at Darton Hall College are having their 30-year reunion, one year too late.

In this novel we meet several not-so-gracefully aging flower children, now shopworn and wondering what their lives were really all about. And as the reunion progresses, we journey back into each one’s life, to other Julys in other years, when important choices were made and paths were taken that could not be reversed.

While the story and its characters are a bit confusing at first, jumping from person to person so it’s difficult to keep straight who is who, who loves who, who is married to whom, that is all intentional, and its meaning comes clear as each person’s story unfolds. Because that’s what memory is like, not a smoothly unfolding continuum but a jumble of moments, the most important moments making up a patchwork of a life. The book feels uneven from time to time, or rushed, or as if some characters get short shrift while others – particularly David, who represents the Vietnam experience – appear far too frequently, but none of that really matters.

Because these perfectly ordinary people are, in the end, completely compelling, and so are their perfectly ordinary lives. Breast cancer, Vietnam flashbacks, jiltings, divorces, affairs, the stupid mistakes we all make and we all can relate to, are lovingly detailed. And these characters, despite their many, very human faults, are our friends, our spouses, ourselves – and all the more endearing for it.

Read after hearing the author read from the book (2002). ( )
  sturlington | Sep 27, 2009 |
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With thanks to Larry Cooper, Janet Silver, Wendy Strothman, Clay Harper, Meredith O'Brien, Les Ramirez, Nader Darehshori, Adrienne Miller, Bill Buford, Tim Waller, and the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Foundation.
First words
The reunion dance had started only an hour ago, but already a good many of the dancers were tipsy, and most others were well along, and now the gossip was flowing and confessions were under way and old flames were being extinguished and rekindled under cardboard stars in the Darton Hall College gymnasium.
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Book description
July, July is set in 2000, and members of the Darton Hall College class of 1969 are gathered, one year behind schedule, for their 30th reunion. Focusing on a dozen characters and life's pivotal moments rather than on a linear plot, O'Brien follows the ensemble cast (which includes a Vietnam vet, a draft dodger, a minister, a bigamous housewife and a manufacturer of mops) for whom "the world had whittled itself down to now or never," as they drink, flirt and reminisce. Interspersed are tales of other moments when each character experienced something that changed him or her forever.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003387, Paperback)

As he did with In the Lake of the Woods, National Book Award winner Tim O'Brien strikes at the emotional nerve center of our lives with this ambitious, compassionate, and terrifically compelling new novel that tells the remarkable story of the generation molded and defined by the 1960s. At the thirtieth anniversary of Minnesota's Darton Hall College class of 1969, ten old friends reassemble for a July weekend of dancing, drinking, flirting, reminiscing, and regretting. The three decades since their graduation have seen marriage and divorce, children and careers, dreams deferred and disappointed-many memories and many ghosts. Together their individual stories create a portrait of a generation launched into adulthood at the moment when their country, too, lost its innocence. Imbued with his signature themes of passion, memory, and yearning, July, July is Tim O'Brien's most fully realized work.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

At the thirtieth reunion of Minnesota's Darton Hall College class of 1969, ten old friends join their classmates for a July weekend of dancing, drinking, flirting, reminiscing, regretting. The three decades since their graduation have seen marriage and divorce, children and careers, hopes deferred and abandoned.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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