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Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America Hardcover – 31 Dec 1991

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st U.S. Ed edition (31 Dec. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060182091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060182090
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,445,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathan Raban is a good journalist and I was intrigued by his takiing up residence in places in the USA where people are not likely to visit as tourists. The real thing! I was particularly interested in his stay in Alabama as that is where I grew up for the first 18 years of my life; he tunes into the nuances of living in such a place.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
When I finished this book, I felt like I'd lost a friend. 1 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A Brit who has travelled extensively in the U.S shares his impressions and voyages. Very perceptive, and communicates a great love of the places he's been and above all of the people he's met. Usually classified under "travel", everything I've read by Raban reads as easily as your favourite novel. "Hunting Mr. Heartbreak" takes the reader from New York (an amazing description of Macy's, and how the city is divided into "sky people" and "street people"), through Alabama, to Seattle and then to the Florida keys. Raban knows how to capture the spirit of a place through an interaction he observes on the street, a billboard on the side of the road, an article in the local newspaper. He is always gentle, humourous, understated. If you don't have time to take that road trip, this is definitely the next best thing. I have no idea why this book is out of print. I have over ten friends reading this book on my recommendation, and they can't stop talking about it. Get it any way you can.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A masterpiece 10 Sept. 2002
By Bernard Wooding - Published on
Format: Paperback
Raban's four books written to date on America-Old Glory, Hunting Mr Heartbreak, Badlands and Passage to Juneau-are all elegant and entertaining meditations on America and what it is to be American. Although each book is very different, they all feature the same blend of candid autobiography, careful historical exegesis, vivid description, and wry humour. Each one is a rewarding work, but Hunting Mr Heartbreak is in my view his masterpiece. Each chapter of the book is a self-contained episode in a personal odyssey, which takes as its starting point the voyage made by the immigrants who flocked to the New World from Europe. The book was written over ten years ago and a few parts of it have inevitably lost a little of their resonance, but his exploration of the historical currents underlying American life and of the concept(s) of Americanness itself remains as relevant and perceptive as ever. Raban's skillful interweaving of allegory and analysis, cleverness and comedy, wonder and unease has resulted in a rich and endlessly fascinating book.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Fine Effort.......... 17 May 2001
By nto62 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Raban's written better books - Old Glory and Badland, to name two - nonetheless, Mr. Heartbreak is an engaging book that is a delight to read. Seeking the singular experience of becoming American, Raban sets up shop in New York City, Guntersville (Alabama), Seattle, and Key West to investigate the newly emigrated and those whose families emigrated generations ago. His observations of people and places are insightful, intriguing and occasionally quite funny.
He is an accomplished observer, capable of peering beyond the surface to uncover what lies beneath. The book's opening, in which Raban describes his sea voyage from Liverpool to New York, is particularly entertaining. So, too, his sojourn in Alabama where he provides gleeful commentary on the irony of a town embracing provincialism whilst stuggling with worldy challenges. I was tempted to award this book 5 stars, but it simply doesn't measure up to other Raban efforts. All the same, it is an excellent selection on anyone's reading list.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Squire "Rayburn" 15 April 2007
By Daniel Myers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathan Raban is, unless I'm missing some unknown genius out there (always a possibility), the best contemporary travel writer out there - hands, anchors, flaps down. I think the main reason for this is that his writing is not MERE travel writing, as such, but is as much introspective as explorative. He allows the places he visits to seep into him and produces narratives that seamlessly mingle inner and outer travel as no other modern writer does. He is also keenly aware - or makes himself keenly aware - of the history of the places he sojourns, such as Guntersville, Alabama, giving his narratives a further layer of texture and depth. Added to all these qualities, he is extremely literate and literary - And yet for all these depths, he is so much fun!

There are not many books which cause me to laugh aloud when reading them; Fielding's Eighteenth Century Classic Tom Jones was the last, if memory serves. But this book did it for me, particularly the one hundred page centrepiece of the book, the chapter "In Our Valley", set in Guntersville, Alabama: His (successful) attempt to "rent" or borrow a dog - the Labrador "Gypsy", his renting a cabin in a neighbourhood called Polecat Alley, imagining himself as a Southern squire if he buys the lakefront property a local real estate dealer is attempting to foist on him etc--Perhaps it's because I myself am a transplanted Englishman living in the South, but these hundred pages were golden to me, and worth as much as the entire book- particularly when Raban notices he's picking up a Southern accent and starting to call himself "Mr. Rayburn" (to be intoned with long-stressed Southern syllables), as the rest of the town has denominated him.

Well, I've gone on enough. Time for me, as Raban puts it, to "flat-mash the gas pedal" and let you readers do the further exploring.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderful Read 6 Nov. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is another thoroughly enjoyable book that Mr. Raban has produced. As good as Old Glory, Hunting he is a book that deserves to be read. I save his books for trips so that I can savour each and every page. Memorable accounts of his sea journey over and his time in Guntersville, Alabama live on years after reading.
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