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People Who Watched Her Pass By, The Paperback – 6 May 2010

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People Who Watched Her Pass By, The + The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: TWO DOLLAR RADIO (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982015151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982015155
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Yolanda on 30 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When Scott reads out passages in his classes, you know you are in the presence of the real McCoy. His American accent, and wealth of experience open up the world of literature. I've never quite recovered...

His short stories are magnificent, up there with the Greats.

This novel takes you straight in, no 100-page hiatus, and you are taken to another world. Looking forward to the next novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Indie Greatness 13 Oct. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
God, I love indie publishers. They put out some of the most interesting books I have ever read.

The People Who Watched Her Pass By is author Scott Bradfield's fifth novel, though it is the first book I have read by him.

And it's a horrifying concept - a 3 year old girl kidnapped from her home by the hot water heater fixer. Not only does this guy kidnap her, he deserts her too. And it's the story of this 3 year old girl wandering from house to house, being taken in, and then being let go, over and over and over again. Until she takes matters into her own hands and chooses when she will be taken in, and when she will walk away.... Until the world finally catches up to her.

So, although it's every mother's worst nightmare - to have her child stolen from her, and not being able to find her, or know what has happened to her - and not a very easy novel to digest, it has some of the most amazing and quotable lines I have read in a very long time.

Bradfield twists and manipulates the english language so beautifully that you actually forgive him for writing a book about such a terrible and unspeakable crime. He takes the life of 3 year old Salome and turns it into poetry.

Seriously. Read this line:

"Life is a sweet mistake that happened when the world wasn't looking."

I love this line so much that I almost want to take it to a tattoo parlor and have it etched into my skin so I can keep it with me forever.

And this one, that describes a major turning point of sorts between Salome's previous life (of living in a laundromat) and her next life:

"We can only have one home at a time. But if we are not ready to appreciate it, or we forget the keys, then we can't have any home at all."

One more, I promise:

"When we die... All the things we ever loved become furniture. The hollowness we feel turns into a house. There aren't any other people in it, and that's one of it's blessings. It's just filled with the ghosts of objects we used to own, things we used to feel, memories of patience and heat... In the afterlife, everything is already over. We don't have anything to regret or anything to look forward to."

The entire novel is peppered with these gorgeous moments that simultaneously grab you by your heart and break it in two.

It is this strange, surreal account of a little girl who wanders almost aimlessly through backyards, and down dirt roads, into and out of peoples lives, people who for some reason don't call Child Services, who don't question this little blonde haired angel they have suddenly crossed paths with, who seem hell-bent on bestowing words of wisdom and advice on her, on telling her their sad soul-crushing stories, on giving her a temporary place to stay...

It is not a book for everyone. It will stir some strong emotions. It will piss some people off. It is a book to be experienced, at the very least.

It is the type of book that only an indie publisher would take a risk on, and bravo, Two Dollar Radio... for the opportunity to review it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
where'd this come from? 4 July 2011
By Randal - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is another book I bought at a library sale. I bought it with a Bukowski novel, who is treated like a God by some people, and when I was about halfway through the Bukowski I picked this up for a break and couldn't put it down. The prose, by comparison, is so much better I don't know how to describe it. The story is almost surreal, but believable in a way, and incredibly funny in places, and terrifying disturbing in others. The entire story is seen through the eyes of a small girl who is trying to find her way across America, she meets all these strange people and then wanders away from them, and near the end she seems to be lost in the Mohave desert or somewhere in Utah, these parts are especially powerful. As the other reviewers mentioned, you want to copy out entire passages and read them out loud. The ending sort of sneaks up on you. I never heard of this writer, but the book seems to have received good reviews on the jacket. I'll definitely pick up something else by him.

I recommend this book pretty highly for those who want something out of the ordinary, and not like Bukowski at all. Also, for once I agree with almost everything the other two reviewers said about this book, though they seem sort of confused. One guy says the book should be more hopeful, but I think it's a pretty hopeful book. It's just written as if America was being viewed from really high overhead and all the rooftops on all the houses have been taken away. The central character Sal is sort of unforgettable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Off The Road, onto wonder 13 Jan. 2013
By a reader in front of the front range - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not that Mr. Bradfield considered it, but, at first, I couldn't stop thinking of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or, rather, its inversion: instead of the heroically protective father, we have the inept kidnapper, "Daddy" who provides the survivalizing child, Sal, with guiding misdirection, not in post-, but in present-apocalyptic America, with its scary inhabitants. Unlike The Road, it's not this child's body, but her soul, they want to cannibalize.

The perils and marvels of Sal's journey, with some faux fathering, through parts of America--some unredeemable, others irreplicable--counterpoints those of the boy of The Road. If the two authors or, better yet, the two Epic Child Innocents, were to meet up, I wonder how badly they'd get along. I'm not sure Mr. McCarthy has accomplished what Mr. Bradfield has--an expansion of fictional possibility.

It's not just the understated surreal metaphors: Sal says of "People", "They're like these forces of nature, all rattling around in the same basement, trying to find a way out. But there isn't any way out, so they keep banging against each other, repeating themselves in each other's ears until they can't hear anything but themselves." There's also sudden simplicity: "a sense of restless yearning in her heart. ... Nobody is better than you." More than anywhere else, there's the uniquely articulated and modulated falls out of the conventions of realism, usually before you know it.

Sal takes you on the way to what she calls becoming the book. If you do not allow yourself an openness to and with it, don't open it at all.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Piece of Literature 19 Aug. 2011
By I Wasn't Here - Published on
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this. The writing is good, the characters are interesting if not completely sketched, and the story is attention-grabbing. It's told in third person in the perspective of a little girl who was kidnapped. It's never said how old Salome is, because she herself doesn't know. Events unfold in such a way that it's hard to determine what exactly happened and how serious it is. Sal doesn't stay with one person or one set of people for long. Either they abandon her or she abandons them, never becoming attached to anyone except maybe her "Daddy", the man who took her in the first place.

I like how the story progresses. Any particular situation isn't drawn out, and before you know it you're on to Sal's next destination. The transitions can be abrupt, however. You find out more as you read, and it's understandably vague sometimes because Salome is the one observing, and even she doesn't really understand everything that is going on. She is just a kid, after all.

So, this is definitely an interesting little book, worth reading. It could be a tad dull at times, but overall it's a good read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Passing Life By 20 Nov. 2010
By Joseph G. Pfeffer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The People Who Watched Her Pass By is disturbing, depressing, funny, and darker than any vampire or zombie novel. Bradfield's protagonist, Salome Jensen, is a preschooler with preternatural intelligence who doesn't want to have anything to do with people except for the alienated oddballs who come on like child molesters but only want to protect her. Bradfield turns every pop novel convention inside out and makes you deal with it until you fell you can't take any more. The book starts with a kidnapping of a three-year-old girl. Here we go, the reader thinks: distraught hysterical parents, kidnappers who threaten to do things so awful we find them irresistible, cops and detectives with their own broken lives, the ghoulish media--the cliche machine is rolling.

Only it's not. Sal bonds with her kidnapper, a creepy hot water heater repairman who calls himself Daddy and who gives Sal nothing but his pathetic form of caretaking. Sal moves from Daddy's house through a series of living arrangements with people who are marginal in a way that makes them more disturbing than child molesters and serial murderers because they're too much like us. They're not bad, just sad. But Sal is attracted to them for reasons never made clear. By the same token, she hates the army of social service workers, probation officers, psychologists and the like who keep trying to save her but can't. These are the same people Bradfield had fun with in his previous novel, Good Girl Wants It Bad. Here, though, they're not fun. They're just icky, and after the ironic and hilarious laundromat section Bradfield abandons humor. The book gets darker and darker until we want to throw it down because we know where he, or Sal, is going, and don't want to follow. At the same time, we feel we may already be there. The book's depressing undertone assures it will never come close to best sellerdom. This from a writer of extravagant talent whose physical descriptions surprise on almost every page.

Good Girl Wants It Bad is fun because of the irrepressible voice of the world's most likable serial killer, Delilah Riodan. The People Who Watched Her Pass By is not fun because Sal Jensen gives up. She becomes a metaphor for the writer himself as she withdraws from the world and observes it. But her observations don't cheer or transform. She goes deeper into the long dark night and takes the reader with her. This is one of the most difficult books I've ever finished reading, and I only did so because of its brevity. Scott Bradfield is a writer of enormous gifts. I hope he lets them take him, and the reader, in a more hopeful direction next time.
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