Exit A Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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'It'll be blood and loud bangs all the way with Exit A, in February, the first novel by Anthony Swofford, the mean commando who wrote Jarhead' 2007 Literary Highlights, Sunday Telegraph 7/1 'So Swofford served as a US Marine and wrote a bestseller about war, peace, manhood and masculinity called 'Jarhead', later given the Sam Mendes movie treatment. So what? So quite a lot, because unlike numerous soldiers turned authors, Swofford can really write: he's even a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, which might explain why his follow-up book and debut novel is less about war and more about love and redemption. 'Well-plotted and pacey..The clash of cultures is dealt with particularly well, and the book is sure to win him many more fans' Waterstones Book Quarterly April issue Set around a US military base in Japan, the story follows the lives of three characters: General Kindwall, the troubled head of the base, his wild daughter Virginia, and Severin Boxx, the son of an air force pilot. Severin is filled with largely unrequited love for Virginia, while Virginia gets in so deep with the Tokyo underground she eventually disappears. Years later, on his death bed, General Kindwall asks Severin to find his daughter for him, a task which doesn't just change the lives of all concerned but leads to soul-searching, forgiveness and a sense that real intimacy only comes from openness - not a position the US military fosters. Swofford hasn't gone soft, but personal' BOOK OF THE MONTH, Esquire Feb '07 'Assured, energetic and utterly compelling, Swofford's characters and prose come alive on the page thanks to his understanding of his subjects and their predicament. It's all so utterly real and natural, allowing the reader to sink into the story rather than be bombarded with a history drama. And, as a journey into the uncharitable complexities of human emotion set against the regimented coldness of the military, Swofford's novel is a resounding success. THE VERDICT: Astonishing fiction debut from Jarhead writer' The Works Jan '07 'Punchy, rat-a-tat sentences [characterise] Exit A, shooting out the characters and marching on with the plot. The military never lurks far beneath the surface, which is perhaps why Swofford is becoming one of the foremost literary explorers of modern war, from the battlefield to the home front' Interview, Observer 4/2 'A twisted love story set in Japan, Vietnam and California, this debut novel by the author of the outstanding Gulf War 1 memoir Jarhead is an involving and affecting account of people trapped in institutions - prison, the military, academia, marriage - and subject to destructive forces and impulses seemingly beyond their control...Swofford's writing is bald and direct - if you were being trite, you might almost say his prose style has a military bent - but he is wise and empathetic and perspicacious: the characters are complete and believable... A very accomplished first novel' Book of the Month, GQ Feb issue 'Anthony Swofford fought as a US marine in the 1991 Gulf war and published a brilliant memoir of that experience, Jarhead. Now his first novel also draws on a military background - not in the fashion of a Tom Clancy, all ingratiating acronyms and hardware porn, but for much more interesting and humane purposes... [A] moreishly moody, multi-faceted novel' Guardian 3/2 'Exit A tells the story of the improbably named Severin Boxx, and Virginia Kindwall - the girl to whom he is devoted. When the story starts it is 1989, and both are living on an American air force base outside Tokyo, Severin is a 17-year-old football hero; Virginia the untouchable, half-Japanese daughter of the grizzled 'Nam-vet general in charge of the base, who doubles as coach to the football team. Severin's as square as can be; Virginia is minxy, manipulative and obsessed with Bonnie and Clyde. Virginia encourages Severin to rebel, drawing him by flirtation into her own flirtation with the fringes of Tokyo's underworld. Soon, both are out of their depth' Daily Telegraph 3/2 'From the author of Jarhead comes another story of military life. Severin Boxx's past growing up on a US military base in Japan returns to haunt him when the dying father of his ex-girlfriend asks him to find his missing daughter. Severin embarks on a compelling journey where he returns to the country of his youth with unexpected consequences' Maxim, March '07 'A masterful, well-told story about responsibility and blame proving that Jarhead wasn't just a good autobiography in a post-Angela's Ashes world, but the debut of a writer with a lot to offer' The Leeds Guide 7/2 'Exit A, his first novel, paints an equally damning picture of American imperialism [to Jarhead] and the often appalling lot of those used, abused and then spewed out by the system. The novel is also a remarkably moving tale of love and loss with a little bit of redemption thrown in. It's also funny, erotic and full of suspense' Book of the Week, Mirror 9/2 'The depiction of urban Japan with its 'continuous riot of neon' is a highlight of the novel; reportage is still Swofford's major suit. However, his exploration of the military mind, and the minefields of parenthood and wedlock, suggest that emotional battlegrounds will prove fertile fictional territory after this accomplished and moving debut' Sunday Telegraph 11/2 'In his depiction of the aged General, "his head still like an axe", there is a moving sense of the way life seems to accelerate too quickly away from us, leaving only our many, small failures...These passages hint at the truths Swofford can tell' Independent on Sunday 11/2 'Highly readable... The older Severin, now carrying a lot more weight and a lot less drive, is like a slightly more educated Rabbit Angstrom. Engaging' Literary Review Feb '07 'One of the best things about Swofford's celebrated memoir Jarhead was its depiction of what it was like to take part in a war that often did not really feel like a war. His first novel is a sort of companion piece, showing what it is like to grow up in a peacetime that is not at all peaceful' New Statesman 12/2 'An oddly fascinating novel, swift and bold, as ugly and unvarnished as an old V8 hot-rodder with jacked-up rear springs and no muffler' Scotland on Sunday 4/2 'After the success of the bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir Jarhead, Exit A equally compels...Intoxicating descriptions of Tokyo sit alongside depictions of the oppressive and sterile Americanised base camp as this captivating romance between two very complex characters unfolds, expertly woven through subplots of underground crime, kidnapping and political unrest. We follow out two protagonists over a 16-year-period and watch their controlled upbringing take its toll, with a glimmer of hope running throughout which keeps us utterly gripped until the very end' The List 1/2 'Swofford's strength lies in his characters. In Kindwall he has created a credible monster. Even on his deathbed, Kindwall exerts sufficient influence to dispatch the adult Severin halfway around the world to hunt for his estranged daughter. This clash of generations and cultures is well rendered, and Swofford's narrative is never less than absorbing' Daily Mail 23/2 'The author grew up on US military bases and served with the Marines in Operation Desert Shield in 1990. His first book, the bestselling Jarhead, was a factual account of his experiences of that time. The assured, intense, intelligent Exit A is his first novel. Severin Boxx is 17, the son of a US Air Force pilot on a base in Japan. He is in love with Virginia, the motherless daughter of the base's general. She, however, is a dangerous and rebellious little minx and Severin loses her to the dark Tokyo underworld. This is powerfully romantic but much more than a love story' Kate Saunders, The Times 24/2 'The author's prose, which won him acclaim for his first novel [sic], Jarhead, is razor-sharp and his own childhood on a military base adds authenticity, while the plot charges along at a cracking pace' The Big Issue 12/2 'A love story-cum-thriller that tells the tale of an American boy, Severin Boxx, who grew up on an American military base in Japan... This may seem an unlikely direction from an ex-marine, but this well-plotted and pacey book shows Swofford is more than capable of handling such material. The clash of cultures is dealt with particularly well, and the book is sure to win him many more fans' Waterstones Books Quarterly, Feb '07 'The author of the autobiographical hit Jarhead returns with his debut novel and, although the military flavour remains, this time the narrative crackles with plot twists and action rather than laconic ennui... Swofford's sharp prose and aggressive humour make this a thrilling, if sometimes uncomfortable, ride' Psychologies magazine, March '07 'There is much to admire in this first novel, not least its confident sweep across continents' Sunday Times 4/3 'Swofford's strength lies in his characters. In Kindwall he has created a credible monster. Even on his deathbed, Kindwall exerts sufficient influence to dispatch the adult Severin halfway around the world to hunt for his estranged daughter. This clash of generations and cultures is well rendered, and Swofford's narrative is never less than absorbing' Daily Mail 23/2 'The author grew up on US military bases and served with the Marines in Operation Desert Shield in 1990. His first book, the bestselling Jarhead, was a factual account of his experiences of that time. The assured, intense, intelligent Exit A is his first novel. Severin Boxx is 17, the son of a US Air Force pilot on a base in Japan. He is in love with Virginia, the motherless daughter of the base's general. She, however, is a dangerous and rebe
About the Author
Anthony Swofford grew up on military bases in the US and Japan, and joined the Marine Corps in 1988, aged eighteen. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield in 1990 with the Second Battalion, 7th Marines. On leaving the Marines Swofford attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Top Customer Reviews
The first section is set on and around Yokata Air Base circa 1989, and is very effective at capturing the uneasy mix of American and Japanese culture. The base commandant's half-Japanese daughter Virginia is the living embodiment of this cross-cultural tension. Somewhat predictably, she's a loose cannon -- a crackling vortex of cliched teenage rebellion with a bizarre fascination with Faye Dunnaway's Bonnie from the 1972 film Bonnie and Clyde. As it happens, her father is also the high school football coach, and linebacker Severin's loyalties are torn between his coach and Virginia, whom he has a crush on. Swofford resolves this tension in a fairly over-the-top scene at a football game, which segues into a wholly ridiculous subplot involving a Japanese hood and kidnappings engineered by North Korean intelligence.
The curtain drops, and then raises some fifteen years later. Severin is now in his early 30s, living a very comfortable life in San Francisco with his moneyed professor of psychology wife. Although the plain-thinking teenager has grown up to earn a doctorate in French somethingorother, he's turned his back on academia and works as a groundskeeper at his wife's school.Read more ›
The story of Severin Boxx and Virginia Kindwall, as well as being one of the utmost complexity, is so dripping in the atmosphere of time and place that it has a virtually cinematic reach. With it's piercingly authentic Far Eastern backdrop it's almost impossible not to conjure up 'Lost in Translation', or even vague recollections of the military personality from both 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Mash'. And General Kindwall, Virginia's father, gradually becomes more real than people you actually know. Now, also, I understand how it really might be possible to go from hatred to compassion to redemption in only one lifetime.
And then just look at Swofford's complete mastery of storyline, swooping and swerving through time, utterly assured whether covering two weeks over fifty pages or fifteen years over a hundred. This is a ride you really want to go on and neither do you want it to end because you're never sure how it's going to get you to your destination. But you always feel safe in this writer's hands, a bit like how it must be to be driven across a big city at breakneck speed, but by a Formula One driver.
I can think of only four other novels of recent times that can sit with 'Exit A' at this exalted top table: Anthony Doerr's 'About Grace'; George Hagen's 'The Laments'; Chang-Rae Lee's 'Aloft' and A.M. Homes's 'This Book Will Save Your Life'. But the truth is, if I never again read a book as good as this one I don't think I'll really mind.