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Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel

Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Wilton Barnhardt
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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"Lacerating but affectionate, as exuberant as it is shrewd, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a Southern novel so sure-footed the only real question for Barnhardt is, "What took you so long?..".By the end I felt like a starving man at a buffet--sated but still hungry. That's not really a knock. "Lookaway, Lookaway" is that rare thing: an excellent long novel that's not long enough."--Malcolm Jones, "The New York Times Book Review""It is a work that hides its craft but never its beauty, that is ambitious but never pretentious, that does not sacrifice nuance for power or power for nuance. The book's careful, formal composition is invisible as you read, and it's a beautiful read, sad and savagely funny, one place inexplicably contained in the other.""--"Cathleen Schine, "The New York Review of Books ""A dishier array of secrets animates "Lookaway, Lookaway," Wilton Barnhardt's big, enveloping novel about a status-conscious North Carolina family."--Janet Maslin, "The New York Times ""Scathing yet touching, this is a delicious saga of Old South meets New, a story of America lurching toward the future.""--People Magazine ""A delicious romp with a dysfunctional Southern Family."--"The Chicago Tribune""Barnhardt's fourth novel is a revelation: witty, savage and bighearted all at once, it is "the" Southern novel for the 21st century."-- "Kirkus" (Starred Review) "Dixieland was never so dishy nor dysfunctional as in Barnhardt's ribald send-up of the conflagration that ensues when Old South tradition confronts New South tackiness...Barnhardt's satirical scorching of southern culture comes in second only to Sherman's fiery march."--"Booklist Review""North Carolina native Barnhardt's frothy, satirical latest (after "Show World") is Southern gothic at its most decadent and dysfunctional.""--Publishers Weekly""Barnhardt bursts forth with a big book that has everyone bustling.""--Library Journal""An effervescent novel.

Product Description

One of Slate’s and Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2013 and The New York Times, National Public Radio, and Indie Bound bestseller: "Lookaway, Lookaway is a wild romp through the South, and therefore the history of our nation, written by an absolute ringmaster of fiction." —Alice Sebold, New York Times bestselling author of The Lovely Bones

Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband Duke are exemplars of Charlotte, North Carolina’s high society, where old Southern money—and older Southern secrets—meet the new wealth of bankers, boom-era speculators, and carpetbagging social climbers. Steely and implacable, Jerene presides over her family’s legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum; Duke, the one-time college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, whose promising political career was mysteriously short-circuited, has settled into a comfortable semi-senescence as a Civil War re-enactor.  Jerene’s brother Gaston is an infamously dissolute bestselling historical novelist who has never managed to begin his long-dreamed-of literary masterpiece, while their sister Dillard is a prisoner of unfortunate life decisions that have made her a near-recluse.

As the four Johnston children wander perpetually toward scandal and mishap. Annie, the smart but matrimonially reckless real estate maven; Bo, a minister at war with his congregation; Joshua, prone to a series of gay misadventures, and Jerilyn, damaged but dutiful to her expected role as debutante and eventual society bride. Jerene must prove tireless in preserving the family's legacy, Duke’s fragile honor, and what's left of the dwindling family fortune. She will stop at nothing to keep what she has—but is it too much to ask for one ounce of cooperation from her heedless family?

In Lookaway, Lookaway, Wilton Barnhardt has written a headlong, hilarious narrative of a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition, and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 994 KB
  • Print Length: 382 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250022282
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (20 Aug 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009LRWJX4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,500 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the year's best... 22 Aug 2013
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Okay, I admit I like books set in the South. And books about people who seem - through the author's good writing - that they could walk off the pages of the book you're reading and sit right down next to you and chat about things important to you both. This is "Lookaway, Lookaway", by North Carolina author Wilton Barnhardt and it'll go down as one the 10 best novels for me in 2013.

Barnhardt has given the reader an introduction into the lives of the Johnston family of Charlotte. The book begins in 2003 and ends nine years later. Each member of the family, retired lawyer and Civil War reenactor father Duke, tough-as-steel mother Jerene, their four grown children, and various other family members and friends are each given a chapter of the book. The book is not written in the first person so the chapters are not personal, but rather written in the third person, each chapter has that person as the main character.

"Lookaway" is a masterful look at a family and the state in which they live. The book is as much a story of Charlotte and other some NC towns and universities as it is about the Johnston family. It reminds me a bit of work by Tom Wolfe, except that Wolfe is a less concise writer than Barnhardt (whose work I'd never read but I sure will go read his backlist!). Barnhardt writes with a conciseness that doesn't waste a sentence. There are no "likeable" or "unlikable" characters in "Lookaway", only nuanced portrayals of people, people we can see in the mirror everyday. A family whose secrets are spilled in one very funny Christmas dinner. The secrets, however, also show how a family, with it's disparate members CAN change and evolve over time. The sins of the grandfathers need not be repeated to succeeding generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lookaway Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt 4 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have to be honest I couldn't really get into this book at all. In fact I never finished it. I found a lot of it a bit boring. Others may not agree..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satire at its Best 4 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, steeped in the history of the American South but up to date enough to include mention of President Obama, this novel features the historical reference points and complex relationships within framework of an important local family. Key personnel include Jerene Jarvis Johnston, matriarch and manipulator, Duke, her local history besotted husband, and her brother Gaston, a popular novelist made rich by the success of his series of books featuring a fictional Confederate heroine named Cordelia Florabloom. In the true tradition of the Southern writer who has squandered his talent Gaston aims to drink his way into oblivion. With each new chapter the reader is introduced to other relatives, all with varying self-deceptions and all mismanaging their lives.
In parts the novel is very entertaining and funny. It hits most of its targets hard but with sufficient empathy to keep the reader involved. For me it seemed to lose focus somewhat when it featured the younger family members, but perhaps their problems were less familiar to me than those of the older generation. Towards the end, in the brief Book 3, the author, while still retaining the aspect of farce that he handles so well, gets fully to grips with the institutional racism that is the grim backdrop to the myths of Dixieland and he makes his point emphatically.
Most of us have some awareness of the history and mythology that seem such an important feature of the American self-perception. It was a pleasure to read this well crafted novel by a writer who understands the historical fantasies while sympathetically exposing the fallacies underpinning certain perceptions of the Southern States. The deft characterisation and clever plotting keep the reader involved and the author's knowledge of this region and its history makes for rewarding reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem 10 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is such a rich read, it's hard to know what to single out about it - characterisation, immaculate structure, wit. But there's also real depth and humanity in the story. Wilton Barnhardt has been promising something great and this is it - a novel with seams of Tom Wolfe and Trollope running through it, that tackles the contemporary and reminds us what creatures of habit we are. I haven't stayed up most of the night reading for a while now, but I could not tear myself away from Jerene and Annie, Chuck and Duke and all the rest. This is a world you can live in for a while and that's a wonderful reading pleasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 2 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My goodness...I'm breathless having finished this amazing book. A family saga like no other , awash with hubris and frantic self delusion. It gives a whole other meaning to living a lie. A tour de force.
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