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Fourth of July Creek Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014


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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: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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 Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a simply a stupendous novel. Set in the rural mountainous area of Montana in the 1980's we meet Pete - he is a social worker, separated from his wife and daughter and likes a drink. His marriage fell apart due to his wife's infidelity and somewhere along the line he also lost the paternal bond with his teenage daughter.

So he asked for the transfer to a rural backwater that despite it location seems to seethe with the same problems that face any urban social worker - albeit without any actual back-up, except a sympathetic judge. He does his best to help those that are on his books, but the road to hell is often paved with the best intentions and for every good deed there seems to be a downside. He is quite clearly a man whose knocks have tried to drive the care from him, but the residue of humanity keeps bringing him back to help. This is juxtaposed with his seeming inability to be even a basic father to his daughter. To say any more, and there is so much more, may be a plot spoiler.

Smith Henderson has written a novel so captivating that he is destined to be acknowledged for the great talent he is. He won the PEN emerging writer award in fiction for 2011, and his quality has far from diminished. He writes in a way so that every scene is painted - even down to the expression on the faces of the players - and that is without saying it. I could not put this down, it has so much of life in it - the good and the very bad. It just seems to be effortlessly excellent. An absolutely stunning story; written by a talented writer who hopefully has a long career ahead of him.
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1 of 1 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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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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