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October Light

October Light By John Gardner Tom Bissell October Light Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award New Directions is excited to reissue the Gardner classics beginning with October Light a complex relationship rendered in a down to earth narrative O

  • Title: October Light
  • Author: John Gardner Tom Bissell
  • ISBN: 9780811216371
  • Page: 414
  • Format: Paperback
  • October Light By John Gardner Tom Bissell Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award New Directions is excited to reissue the Gardner classics, beginning with October Light, a complex relationship rendered in a down to earth narrative October Light is one of John Gardner s masterworks The penniless widow of a once wealthy dentist, Sally Abbot now lives in the Vermont farmhouse of her older brother, 72 yeaWinner of the National Book Critics Circle Award New Directions is excited to reissue the Gardner classics, beginning with October Light, a complex relationship rendered in a down to earth narrative October Light is one of John Gardner s masterworks The penniless widow of a once wealthy dentist, Sally Abbot now lives in the Vermont farmhouse of her older brother, 72 year old James Page Polar opposites in nearly every way, their clash of values turns a bitter corner when the exacting and resolute James takes a shotgun to his sister s color television set After he locks Sally up in her room with the trashy blockbuster novel that has consumed her and only apples to eat , the novel within the novel becomes an echo chamber providing glimpses into the history of the family that spawned these bizarre, sad, and stubborn people Gardner uses the turbulent siblings as a stepping off point from which he expands upon the lives of their extended families, and the rural community that surrounds them He also engages larger issues of how liberals and conservatives define themselves, and considers those moments when life transcends all their arguments.
    October Light By John Gardner Tom Bissell

    • October Light Best Read || [John Gardner Tom Bissell]
      414 John Gardner Tom Bissell
    October Light

    One thought on “October Light

    1. Mariel on said:

      Brother versus sister James is in his 70s in the 1970s have I ever shared my theory about guys who were hot in the 70s The theory is that they are not hot any longer D oh I m trying to be a sane goodreader now Sally has run out of money in her eighties she d be rich again in the 80s if she took the drug dealing tips from her trash novel and is forced to move in with her miserly, life hating brother His hole forces her into her own hole inside his hole er, house Partly out of fear and anger, part [...]

    2. Marc on said:

      This book was absolutely painful to read There is simply too much truth in in for me to take in at one time I had to put it down for days at a time while i digested and processed my feelings Alongside Sunlight Dialogues and Grendal it is one of the most amazing and affecting novels I have ever read The metadrama is absolutley central to the story It stands alone as fiction and gives us a searing look into the subconscious of the two protagonists Gardner is a literary genius, so completely undera [...]

    3. H on said:

      From the start this is clearly the novel of a man actively striving after masterpieces Each word is so perfectly chosen, it s unbelievable, and despite its length, the writing is so full of integrity that the reader can t possibly question or wonder if this could have been anything shorter than a 440 page book.But it s a daunting read, like Paradise Lost was, and like most college classes are in the sense that the author assumes you are going to devote your whole being to participating in this n [...]

    4. j_ay on said:

      A re read great to have this book back in print Gardner is ridiculously under appreciated.

    5. Cynthia Frazer on said:

      Was absolutely struck by this novel in my youth, rereading it now I am struck again.

    6. Meghan Wyrd on said:

      Oh man, did I go through some ups and downs with this book In all honesty, it took me a month and a half to finish, rivaling The Goldfinch this year in my fickle pick up and put it down routine But October Light is not even functioning on the same plane of existence as The Goldfinch can you tell I was disappointed , or anything that I ve ever read before, except perhaps Pale Fire.Right now I have a very tenuous grasp on the mirroring from the novel within a novel Maybe right now this book is a b [...]

    7. Jen on said:

      this book was a challenge I will admit I certainly started skimming paragraphs along the way the book within the book was interesting until it jumped the shark and I completely lost interest in its story whatsoever it was a clever trick although I didn t understand the point of the missing pages other than perhaps the author was just as sick of that tale as I was and this was a way to skip ahead however the tale of James and sally is deeply personal the insightfulness stubborness, pain, loneline [...]

    8. Donalee on said:

      As the novel opens, 72 year old James Page has just shot his sister s television Sally Abbot, his penniless widowed sister, has returned home to the Vermont farmhouse in which she and James grew up The two are polar opposites in nearly every way and beome engaged in a bitter battle of idealogy James locks Sally in her bedroom, where she begins to read a trashy novel about drug smugglers, spaceships, and philosophy This novel within the novel is a springboard to provide glimpses into the family e [...]

    9. Tamara on said:

      Usually I would rate a book I was unable to finish with 1 star but I am making an exception in this case It is obviously a well written book with enough themes to keep a high school english class or intellectual book club busy arguing and analyzing for weeks The two elderly, stubbborn, Vermont siblings represent exteme opposites in terms of political and social viewpoints and there are many supporting cast members to represent the range in between Like most good stories there is a dysfunctional [...]

    10. Stephen Weinberger on said:

      I first read Gardner s Grendel in high school soon after finishing Beowulf It was a dark, grotesque, strange, enthralling book that still lingers and causes a mental spasm when I see the cover on my bookshelf Years later I found Nickel Mountain with its cast of doomed but humane characters in the Catskills of NY Now, I was able to pick up October Light Once again, I am struck by his ability to depict flawed but compassionate people in Vermont this time while capturing a natural landscape of a ch [...]

    11. rich on said:

      I read this book so many years ago I do not even barely remember it I just remember I was obsessed with it and could not put it down It has two stories throughout A story within a story That got in my way when I first started reading it So I put it down But, like so many books, I picked it up again and for some reason sailed right though it It was gorgeously written John Gardner was a phenomenal writer I highly recommend this book One of my absolute all time favorites.

    12. Jenny D on said:

      It may just be because I m a Vermonter, but I loved every second of this book I know those people I know stubborn old farmers and stubborn old women that say jeezem crow all the time I was a fan of John Gardner before, but after reading this I was in the clouds in love with his writing Such precision, imagery and insight into humanity

    13. Marion on said:

      As a longtime fan of Gardner s work, I had not gotten around to reading this one I can t believe it won a National Book Award I gave it two stars because the writing was lovely in fits and starts and the characters were well drawn Beyond that, I found the book tedious and had a very hard time finishing it Probably wouldn t have but for book club.

    14. David Miller on said:

      Another find from my friendly neighborhood Goodwill store otherwise I would never have read it and this is a Great American Novel Reading this was like reading The Reivers or The House of Seven Gables The part of the book that takes place in the present only covers a few days An old man and his sister are quarreling The sense of place the country outside Bennington, Vermont and the dialogue are perfect Alongside the usual novelistic themes the presence of the past, impossibility of understanding [...]

    15. Christian Schwoerke on said:

      I enjoyed this book in the 70 s and I enjoyed it again this time around, in April 2014 This time I better appreciated the story of James Sage and gave a little less weight to the embedded trashy novel Formerly, I d reversed those valuations, though even in my callow 20s I recognized how extraordinary were Gardner s evocations of 72 year old James Page and 80 year old Sally Page In fact, all of the real characters in the novel had fairly rich interior lives that were revelatory and credible as th [...]

    16. Michael on said:

      I first read October Light back in 1977 or thereabouts, shortly after its release I recalled the very basics of the plot, and that I loved it That s about it So reading it again some 36 years later is like reading it anew, experiencing and enjoying it all over again Ah, the beauty of poor long term memory.October Light is the sort of character driven, philosophical and deeply moralistic tale so typical of the best of Gardner s work And while there is always a redemptive element, there is somethi [...]

    17. Zack on said:

      This book concerns an old woman named Sally Abbott who s been chased upstairs by her brother, James Page, an American puritan type, who believes in good hard work and is always biting down on his pipestem til it snaps and so on She s been chased into her room by him with a stick of wood he grabs from the fireplace While she s up there, she starts reading a book about ganja smuggling, and the narrative goes back and forth between segments of the ganja smuggling text involving a weird old man in a [...]

    18. Laura on said:

      I had some trouble getting into this one, but once I did it was quite profound The writing was excellent and it had some deep and important themes To me it was about the struggle with change and the need to be tolerant, understanding, and forgiving of others This theme was apparent in the story, but I think was also indicative of a deeper need for this in our society I felt at times like this book was very deep and I was missing the point, but it was clear the author was making fun of some of th [...]

    19. Wendy Joyce on said:

      Ever read a book that started you wondering, Why the heck am I reading this and yet, you keep reading it, page after page, not really liking it, but not knowing why, and not able to stop I suppose I was waiting for the story to get somewheremewhere, anywhere, just get there soon The characters, well drawn, as always with Gardner , come to life, but not in a likeable way They re like your aunts, uncles, and cousins that cause migraines when they visit You love them, but don t like themd how long [...]

    20. Al on said:

      That Gardner was brilliant and actually practiced what he really preached was not a surprise to me as a BIG fan of his books on writing What amazed me, besides the quality of his metaphors, his scheme, was the joy and fun I had in reading it, and I think he had in writing it A book of living people, so much that after I got off the bus having just finished it, I expected to see James Page Gardner gives and gives with all he has Read it As customary as it is to add some small slap after such grea [...]

    21. Chris Minnick on said:

      This may not be as memorable as Grendel, and it may suffer from typical Gardner sermonizing and philosophical monologues, but man, does this novel pack some emotional punches along the way to its powerful conclusion If this is your first Gardner book, you may want to put it down when the novel within a novel bits get too ridiculous, or when the characters in the main narrative behave exaggeratedly I beg you don t The final third of the story of James and Sally Page s dispute is just fantastic.

    22. M.E. Johnson on said:

      WOW Favorite read this year so far Didn t expect to get what I got out of this book A tale about two battling octogenarian siblings who share a househis to be exact He locks her in an upstairs room for days, whereupon she finds an exploitative novel half of the pages ripped out that she sets out to read A novel within a novel manifests Hilarious and surprisingly provocative This was the first John Gardner novel I have read, and trust me when I say I am looking forward to reading many

    23. Debbie on said:

      aClassic by John Gardner who I never read, and was killed when the head of our writing dept at SUNY binghamtonTwo elderly siblings are forced to live together for economical reasons The brother is old fashioned and close minded the first thing that happens is he shoots the tv because of the liberal ideas its spewing.Then he chases her up the stairs with a weapon and locks her in She decides she won t come out.Their stalemate is the story The book seems dated, yet ahead of its time Another good p [...]

    24. Julie on said:

      I normally like odd, book within a book novels This one is set in New England with characters who seem very familiar I just could not get into it I think, for me, the actual characters weren t close enough, and the characters in the novel were not compelling or immediate enough Too much distance between me and the characters to generate any kind of connection I tried

    25. Kristina Cinato on said:

      The author does an exceptional job of developing characters and invoking sympathy for them when they should be unlikeable Even , he is able to get the reader to understand, if not sympathize with, BOTH philosophically juxtaposed main characters The story is slow, but so well crafted and beautifully scripted that it is worth the time.

    26. Jean Kelly on said:

      Read this book again after many years and found it a fascinating tale of two old siblings having a battle royal interspersed with a trash novel Sally finds and reads while she is a prisoner in her bedroom.

    27. Matt Gaither on said:

      Probably my favorite Gardner novel thus far Very little action to speak of so if that s what you re after steer clear Gardner explores an odd relationship between two elderly siblings, threads in a second narrative, and generally rules.

    28. Kristen Barr on said:

      This is one of the funniest books I have ever read I read it when it first came out and have read it many times since The characterization, the absurdity of the situation, and the book within a book are tightly woven together to present a unique portrait of the human condition.

    29. Jacob Andra on said:

      I made it about half way The writing is great, but I felt that the novel within a novel bogged the whole thing down The trashy novel wasn t it was clearly in Gardner s voice and was his best attempt at writing trashy Maybe later, I ll try to pick it up again.

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