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28 Reviews
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The meaning of insouciance?
I found myself overwhelmed by this book. It grabbed me on the first page and did not let go until the muddled sadness of the ending.
The story, told on tape by Joshua Bland, is the rambling but totally compelling autobiography of a rich man who has set the time and date of his suicide and spends his last days in his New England house, with little sleep and bolstered...
Published 23 months ago by Penny Waugh

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "EXIT, TALKING"
Joshua Bland - in the 1920's child genius, a sensation in New Athens, Iowa. When one and a half he could recite the Ten Commandments, backwards. Such talents prove a lucrative source of income and reflected glory for his mother from hell.

Now it is 1959, Joshua totally messed up and planning suicide. The 558 pages comprise his final eight days of taped...
Published on 8 Sept. 2012 by Mr. D. L. Rees


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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it - downloaded the sample and got sucked in!, 26 May 2012
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This review is from: A Gay and Melancholy Sound (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded the sample of this, as there was 1 great and 1 awful review. Found myself captivated and begrudged having to download the whole thing and start again, so keen was I not to be interrupted!
It's a troubled man telling his life story, warts and all. It's a very honest sounding account but I struggled to understand why he acted in those ways. Mind you, we all say and do stuff we know we shouldn't! Despite the obvious pain his actions have caused him, I didn't find it cringey or difficult to bear.
Looking forward to the next Nancy Pearl "discovery".
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark side of the American Dream, 21 April 2013
By 
J. Charlesworth (Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This is the story of Joshua Bland, a former child prodigy who has, over the years, completely encased himself in a shell of misanthropy, inferiority and self-hatred.

Bland has decided to kill himself, but is seemingly incapable of even following through on this decision, instead spending five hundred pages explaining what has led him to this point. Joshua's story is the antithesis to the American Dream - despite every chance in life and numerous attempts to save himself by grasping at the straws of religion and psychoanalysis, Joshua Bland is still deeply and profoundly miserable.

Much as I wanted to despise Joshua's pathetic meanness, or at the very least be bored by him, I found myself sympathising instead, reading about this man trapped in an alternative reality completely of his own devising, where the people who love him are threats to the conclusions he has decided to live by.

I'm genuinely surprised that this book isn't a classic. In many places it's a near-perfect parody of American society from the in the 50s and 60s. I can only think that the contradiction between society's loudly-trumpted definitions of success and Joshua's failure to find any inner feelings of peace are uncomfortable for many readers.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I gave up early with book and in fact deleted ..., 28 July 2014
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This review is from: A Gay and Melancholy Sound (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) (Kindle Edition)
I gave up early with book and in fact deleted from my kindle as had no interest in completing.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 23 July 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gay and Melancholy Sound (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) (Kindle Edition)
Kitchen sink rubbish
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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obtuse, dated, boring and not worthy of being saved from obscurity, 8 Aug. 2012
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This book was original released in 1961 and had gone out of print. Its reputation had never amounted to much at the time and was quickly forgotten. Nancy Pearl, a noted American librarian, has republished it along with some other lost books as part of a programme called Book Lusts. In this case I don't think she should have bothered. There are surely more worthy titles than this?

In her disappointingly short introduction she claims that the novel hasn't dated. I very much disagree. The prose style reeks of the late 50s, early 60s. That moment in time forever lost on the wrong side of The Beatles. It reminds me very strongly of Revolutionary Road (from 1962) which I abandoned with great speed as it was so stilted and awkward. Which describes the prose on offer here as long as you also add the word "obtuse". These sentences are obstacle courses that make you work very hard to uncover what they mean. I hated the incredibly inelegant prose style.

The interactions between the characters were incredibly stilted. Such as the following exchange from page eleven between a photographer and the very young lead character:

'"I'm president of the Methodist Epworth League", said Jim. "Would you like to come on Sunday?"

I said I would, and I did, but my friendship with the League didn't last long.'

Without the context it doesn't read like much but it smells of literary BS were the writer hasn't even attempted to simulate real life. It reminds me of a page of an unpublished novel someone once showed me. It had someone out for a walk, suddenly fall into conversation with a Muslim, and then end up going to his Mosque and then debating cultural differences. All in the space of about three paragraphs. Stilted, unrealistic, awkward cobblers with no natural flow to it.

I wasn't going to waste any more effort on this 558 page monster so I gave up on page 27 when he hallucinates reading a book of poems. It wasn't going to get any better. I am incapable of reading this book for pleasure. I couldn't squeeze any fun out of it at all.

Undoubtedly more than just Nancy Pearl rates it highly. And she clearly loves it. I just can't imagine what she sees in it. Perhaps it's a generational thing? None of it spoke to me and it felt very of its pre-Beatles time when grey and boring was considered to be excellent entertainment. Frankly it was borderline unreadable. The only way I could have continued was if I forced myself. And why would I do that? I think it's a terrible book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: A Gay and Melancholy Sound (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) (Kindle Edition)
Not a good read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating format but overly long account of life and desperation, 20 Jun. 2013
By 
M. C. Cresswell - See all my reviews
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This weighty book recounts the thoughts, feeling ls and at times rumblings of a man in the edge, on the verge of suicide and telling his memoirs to a tape recorder, the only thing that will listen to him. To be honest I had to skim some of this as it was just too long and failed to grab me throughout, as his increasingly scattergun - and extended - notes to self became a trifle tedious. A fascinating framework and one which I would like to return when I'm feeling up to the task.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Turgid, 10 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: A Gay and Melancholy Sound (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) (Kindle Edition)
Not quite sure why I thought I might enjoy this. It came with a great rating. I couldn't get into it. Not for me!
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