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Fourth of July Creek Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014

29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434022772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434022779
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This book left me awestruck; a stunning debut which reads like the work of a writer at the height of his power. Begins with the story of one struggling man and his family and soon seems to encompass and address all of modern America’s problems. Fourth of July Creek is a masterful achievement and Smith Henderson is certain to end up a household name." (Philipp Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of The Son)

"An impressive book – deeply so. [Cormac] McCarthy’s shadow may loom heavy across the prose, but the story this prose conveys, and the manner in which Henderson unfurls it, bears its own unalloyed power … It’s Pearl’s story, more than anything else, that lock this novel in your hands [A] trenchant and vigorously empathetic novel." (New York Times Book Review)

"An intense, mesmerising book that uses this surprisingly intimate relationship to explore grand themes about American culture ... Devastating and inspiring." (The Economist)

"Stunning debut novel … that crackles and lurches with the intensity of a Tom Waits song. Here, at the beginning of his career, Henderson has come within shouting distance of writing a great American novel." (Guardian)

"It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel. Confidence verging on swagger leaks out of every page. It is a big fat all-American epic that has earned its place on airport bookshelves for many months to comeThink Cold Mountain but with more action…The conclusion has all the surprise of a great detective story. Henderson has created an instant classic." (Daily Mail)

"There is a lot to praise here: striking descriptions of the mountain landscape, imaginative imagery and, above all, the irresistible energy of so much American fiction." (The Times)

"Fourth of July Creek knocked me flat. This gorgeous, full-bodied novel seems to contain all of America at what was, in retrospect, a pivotal moment in its history. In the story of Pete Snow’s struggle to save families, children, lives – his own and others' – Smith Henderson has delivered nothing less than a masterpiece of a novel." (Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk)

"Smith Henderson's Fourth of July Creek is an astonishing read. The writing is energetic and precise. The story is enthralling. Henderson has a mastery of scale that allows this particular place and these particular people to illuminate who we are as Americans, and the consequences of the complex project that has become our nation. I could not recommend this book more highly." (Kevin Powers, bestselling author of The Yellow Birds)

"Fourth of July Creek cannot possibly be Smith Henderson's first book. Its scope is audacious, its range virtuosic, its gaze steady and true. A riveting story written in an seductive and relentlessly authentic rural American vernacular, this is the kind of novel I wish I'd written." (Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn)

"Engrossing … A piercing glance at the US’s social margins where the American dream and the horrors of government abandonment walk hand in hand." (Metro)

Book Description

A dark and powerful debut novel set in the hardscrabble American heartlands.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
So I started this novel yesterday morning and was not really enamoured after the first couple of chapters – I’m not sure why, I found the initial set up to be kind of slow – but the writing was beautiful so I kept on and here we are today and I’m finished. I really could not put this down once it kicked in, and I was right in that story all the way, despite its often meandering quality and some distinctive structuring that meant I had to keep my head in the game..

It is an emotional, often violent read to be sure – and I don’t really mean violent as in blood and guts, but more mentally speaking, dealing as it does with the vagaries of social work and some of the experiences our main protagonist has will give you pause for thought. It is a complex story, multi stranded, looking at many issues, and definitely one to make you sit up and take notice. The story of the survivalist family and their attitudes is absolutely fascinating – and it is strange to realise that people like this really do exist. The character defining journey Pete Snow takes as he deals with this and his own family issues is absolutely one of the best I’ve seen in any novel lately, he is truly compelling.

Very hard to review without spoilers it has to be said, but this is a remarkable debut, and one of those books where now I’ve finished it I’m still not sure what I think of it. A slow burner that turns almost on a dime into a rollercoaster breakneck speed of a read, it is one of those novels that will suck you in inexorably with each passing chapter. Did I love it? Yes I think I probably did. Don’t ask me why though. Kudos to the author.

Happy Reading Folks!

**Source: Netgalley**
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The 1980s. In Tenmile, Montana, social worker Pete Snow struggles to cope. Particular concerns are teenager Cecil (mother addicted to drink, drugs and men), eleven year old Ben (reclusive father a fanatic, convinced Armageddon is nigh). What, though, of Peter's own family? Brother Luke is on the run after beating up his probation officer. Estranged unfaithful wife Beth has problems with their troubled daughter Rachel. Grimly he realizes, "I take kids away from people like us."

Strong in atmosphere and characterization, the novel presents an uncompromising picture of a very bleak world. Necessarily it focuses on people very dysfunctional, including Pete himself.

Hopes were high after all the praise lavished. The first few chapters certainly arrested attention, surely promise of a most involving read.

Not so with me, I very much regret. Totally unexpectedly, the book gradually became an endurance test. There was nobody to like, no humour to lighten. Even Pete alienated, his heart in the right place but circumstances causing him to come adrift.

Sequences in Tenmile and its surrounds provided the main interest. This greatly flagged whenever Pete ventured further afield, which he increasingly did. The ongoing saga of Rachel's exploits furthermore caused attention to stray - this assuredly not the aim.

The writing is undeniably powerful, but the unrelieved gloom proved too hard to take. This seems a novel better appreciated by readers possessing more compassion and stronger stomachs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 9 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a dark and often brutal story set in the backwoods of rural Montana - not brutal in a blood-and-guts way, but in the relentless cruelty of the world. Pete is a social worker and the book opens when he is called by police to a home where a fifteen year old boy is cuffed to his mother, both of them threatening to kill the other - and this sets the mood for the rest of this story.

Pete is a complex character: good-hearted, trying his best to alleviate what misery he can but carrying the baggage of his own imperfect family life. His interactions, most of all, with the Pearl family - the almost feral boy Benjamin, the patriarchal Jeremiah who views the world through an apocalyptic lens - bind this book. But one of the strengths of Henderson's vision is that these characters are not easily written off as mere backwoods clichés - there is a kind of heartfelt integrity about the book which raises it beyond that.

This comes garlanded with praise but though it's assured and sincere, it's really not as 'astonishing', 'masterful' or 'stunning' as is claimed in the gushing cover reviews - it's very good, but there are times when it feels unwieldy, when the writing runs away with Henderson, though it comes good in the end.

So this isn't a feel-good read: it deals with a community where poverty and lack of education leads to drug abuse, sexual abuse and neglect - though even that idea is complicated in Pete's own family history. Ultimately this is unsentimental and unflinching - there are some slivers of hope as the story ends but life is very cruel in the world of this novel.
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By Pigwin on 26 May 2015
Format: Paperback
This novel is set in Montana and the year is 1980 when Ronald Reagan sweeps into power as President of the USA.The opening chapter gives the reader the flavour of the entire story as social worker Pete Snow has been called by the police to a domestic disturbance involving a junkie mother and her teenage son who has been in trouble with the law on several occasions. Pete is a dedicated social worker and manages to place the teenager with a stable foster family. Yet it the youngster's younger sister that Pete is particularly concerned with and worried about and perhaps he is thinking of his own young daughter who now lives with her mother following the breakdown of Pete's marriage; a daughter to whom he has been a largely absent father since the break up. While things do not turn out too well with this case there is an even greater challenge awaiting Pete when a young boy, Benjamin Pearl, turns up at a local school dirty and dishevelled. When Snow meets Benjamin's reclusive and apparently violent father he finds it well nigh impossible to help either father or son and in fact, the father, Jeremiah, does not want to accept any help from Pete or the social services.

Pete's own family is disfunctional and when his daughter goes missing Pete, in trying rather desperately to track her down attracts the interest of the F.B.I. There are few, if any, uncomplicated families in Fourth of July Creek and it is easy to see how Pete as a social worker might be snowed under (pun intended) by his workload.

This is Smith Henderson's debut novel and as such is a very confident effort but like the parson's egg it is only good in parts and I felt it failed to live up to the lyrical reviews it received. Fourth of July Creek starts well and I was drawn in very quickly by the opening chapters.
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