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Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine Paperback – 21 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (21 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571201903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571201907
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,210,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Welcome back to the world of boot camp, boxing gyms, psych wards and pharmaceutical highs. Once again, Thom Jones seems less to write fiction than to allow his characters to pour their stories directly into the reader's ear. Here the cast includes some of the usual suspects--jittery fighters, Marines, Vietnam vets--as well as some new but equally quirky voices, from a nebbishy vice principal to a 92-year-old woman. First seen in Jones's debut collection, The Pugilist at Rest, the crack Marine recon team Break On Thru makes several more sorties--most notably in "Fields of Purple Forever," in which the civilian Sergeant Ondine takes up swimming much the same way Odysseus, say, took up sailing: "Ondine a night swimmer and he all over the night. Captain of the night. I swim in the fields of purple. Nothing and no one can harm me forever."

"Tarantula" chronicles the rise and fall of John Harold Hammermeister, vice principal of W.E.B. Du Bois High School, where the students fail to be impressed by his caged spider and the frustrated janitors prove his undoing. "My Heroic Mythic Journey" follows the downward career arc of its boxer protagonist, who becomes featherweight champion of the world only to fall for a "bleach-bottle blond with a cheating heart" and a loaded .38. Most winning of all is the elderly narrator of "Daddy's Girl," who manages to preserve her faith even with two dead husbands, countless family tragedies and eyelids growing up into her eyes: "You have to believe like a little child. Believe it because it's impossible." Only the overlong concluding story, "You Cheated, You Lied," disappoints; as chaotic as the main characters' mood swings, it follows two crazy teenagers in love and off their medication. But this tale is an exception in an otherwise noteworthy collection. Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine only confirms Jones's place as one of the most original American writers at work today. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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AS SOON AS the turquoise blue Impala pulled in the driveway, Kid Dynamite was out of the backseat, across the lawn, into the house, and dancing out of his wool pants and tie as he vaulted up to his room. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read all three of his books and though his last two have failed to reach the quality and impact of his first he still writes fascinating tales at the extremes of human emotions and situations.
His stories are very in your face; mostly macho-hero type affairs. If you're after long verbose quiet sit-under-a-tree-and-read prose - you're better off going elsewhere.
Thom has of late tried to change his style a little with variable results. Sometimes writing from a woman's point of view and at other times the scawny beat-upon man such as in the mice story.
Thom has been promising his first novel for sometime now though if he keeps delivering books like this, I think his first novel could wait another year or five.
Definitely a man's writer. A writer with balls - sweaty and bruised balls at that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
Having found Thom Jones through the recomendation of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Survivor) in interviews, I now feel like writing to Chuck to thank him. This collection of short stories displays a confident grasp of the language, a swaggering style of writing that drags you through the book by the scruff of your neck. Of the dozen or so stories, "I Love You, Sophie Western" had the most profound effect on me, the ending still lingers uneasily with me now. Other stories such as "Mouses" and "Terantula" have that same kind of power. Jones writes about desperate characters, about moments where lives are ruined or saved. Violence, sex, drugs, old subjects but brought to life again by Jones' fresh style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 April 2000
Format: Paperback
Thom Jones' stories hit you with a sucker punch straight to your soul - the force is so devastating, the effect so powerful that the only thing left to do is to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Thom Jones writes with wit, compassion, and a wickedly dark sense of humour as he brings his characters stories to light for the reader. I can't remember which philospher said "I am human and so nothing human is foreign to me" but this is certainly the vantage point from which Jones writes. In both Sonny Liston and The Pugilist at Rest Jones manages to do what all great writers strive for - he makes our living and dying important again.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2000
Format: Paperback
Not a bad collection of stories, but not great either by a long shot. Jones isn't a terrible writer but he's nothing like the second coming of Robert Stone and Hemingway as he's been hyped. A lot of very familiar territory here (Nam, boxing) and while Jones occasionally turns a pretty good phrase, he's not a particularly dazzling storyteller.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Reuland on 26 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
The book was slightly damaged - a quick visual check prior to shipping would have prevented that, but not enough to go through the hassle of having to mail it back. Shipping was not cheap for a paperback.
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