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Tales of the Madman Underground by John…
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Tales of the Madman Underground (2009)

by John Barnes

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I don't even know where to start with this one.

Apparently the book got a lot of comparison with Catcher in the Rye which is at once wholly inaccurate and a perfect comparison. Firstly, the comparison with Catcher is largely because both books deal with a mostly crazy delinquent teen - the difference is that Karl Shoemaker is actually a narrator that you not only like, but also understand.

Secondly, the book is funny. Really, really funny. Laugh out loud funny. The humor, however, never quite detracts from the fact that the subject matter (alcoholism, incest, homosexuality, child-beatings, you know all that) is incredibly dark and poignant.

The most I can say about this book? Get it, read it, enjoy it, laugh and find yourself relating to it in spite of every attempt not to. The book was incredible. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
This is an awesome historical novel set in the early seventies. The writings was so fluid and the characters so real. I loved that despite si many bad things that happen to so many of the people the book comes around with a wonderful and hopeful ending. It is a mature content ya book that in its honesty deals with some crude language and themes for those of you sensative ti that sort of thing. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is an awesome historical novel set in the early seventies. The writings was so fluid and the characters so real. I loved that despite si many bad things that happen to so many of the people the book comes around with a wonderful and hopeful ending. It is a mature content ya book that in its honesty deals with some crude language and themes for those of you sensative ti that sort of thing. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is such a long book I didn't think I would get through it so quickly but Karl was such an engaging narrator I just had to know what was going to happen next. Karl is starting his senior year in high school in a small town in Lightsburg, Ohio. He is part of the Madman Underground, a group of kids that have to skip class once every other week to meet with the school psychologist. You're teachers decide if you need to go to the psychologist and you go either because you appear to behave irrationally (violent fits or crying jags) or because something awful (a family member dies or gets taken away) happens to you. The Madman are all friends with each other and have developed a great support group but they mostly try to keep it hidden from the school. You get most of the groups history from Karl filling in Marti. Karl has five jobs and ever since his father passed away his mother has turned into an ufo conspiracy theorist alcoholic/pothead who routinely steals the money he earns working five jobs. The stories are funny and gut wrenching. All of the Madman Underground are smart and funny but they all have problems caused by abusive parents/family that don't take care of them at all. This book only covers 6 days but it feels like so much more then that because you get each kids history and a selection of madman incidents to help you learn about who they are. The kids have honest voices that are just so appealing. There is hope at the end of the book that the groups lot will improve. Their new psychologist has actually been a part of high school therapy group as a student and the adults in Karl's life start to try and help him get it together. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
This is such a long book I didn't think I would get through it so quickly but Karl was such an engaging narrator I just had to know what was going to happen next. Karl is starting his senior year in high school in a small town in Lightsburg, Ohio. He is part of the Madman Underground, a group of kids that have to skip class once every other week to meet with the school psychologist. You're teachers decide if you need to go to the psychologist and you go either because you appear to behave irrationally (violent fits or crying jags) or because something awful (a family member dies or gets taken away) happens to you. The Madman are all friends with each other and have developed a great support group but they mostly try to keep it hidden from the school. You get most of the groups history from Karl filling in Marti. Karl has five jobs and ever since his father passed away his mother has turned into an ufo conspiracy theorist alcoholic/pothead who routinely steals the money he earns working five jobs. The stories are funny and gut wrenching. All of the Madman Underground are smart and funny but they all have problems caused by abusive parents/family that don't take care of them at all. This book only covers 6 days but it feels like so much more then that because you get each kids history and a selection of madman incidents to help you learn about who they are. The kids have honest voices that are just so appealing. There is hope at the end of the book that the groups lot will improve. Their new psychologist has actually been a part of high school therapy group as a student and the adults in Karl's life start to try and help him get it together. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
...and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim had ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, between two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: "All right, then, I'll go to hell"--and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't.

--Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
"God, you don't want to stay with me," he said to the girl. "Someday you'll be in difficulty and need my help and I'd do to you exactly what I did to Leo; I'd let you sink without moving my right arm."

"But your own life was at--"

"It always is," he pointed out. "When you do anything. That's the name of the comedy we're stuck in."

--Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
Dedication
This book is dedicated, with deep gratitude, to two loyal friends, who insisted, for years, that I ought to write it, and then that I could write it, until finally I did write it: Ashley Grayson and Jes Tate.
First words
I had developed this theory all summer: if I could be perfectly, ideally, totally normal for the first day of my senior year, which was today, then I could do it for the first week, which was only Wednesday through Friday.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067006081X, Hardcover)

Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker's senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl's been part of what he calls "the Madman Underground" - a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act - and be - Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In September 1973, as the school year begins in his depressed Ohio town, high-school senior Kurt Shoemaker determines to be "normal," despite his chaotic home life with his volatile, alcoholic mother and the deep loyalty and affection he has for his friends in the therapy group dubbed the Madman Underground.… (more)

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