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Astro Van Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 171 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Details

  • File Size: 390 KB
  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Shinebox Press (November 11, 2011)
  • Publication Date: November 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0066HBT6U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,585 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
If you like quirky Coen brothers movies like "Fargo" or "Raising Arizona," you'll enjoy "Astro Van," by Josh Flanagan of podcast notoriety. There's a plot to the novel--and a doozey of a plot it is-- but it's the characters you care about first and foremost. With these likeable characters, the story could've been about changing a light bulb, and I still would've had trouble putting it down.

Flanagan is a shrewd observer of humankind, and he has a deft gift for nailing a character or emotion in just a few words of dialogue or description. The things that the people say and do seem completely sensible even when you know that no one possibly could've just said or done whatever it was. The book isn't formatted with numbered chapters and so on, but this lack of formality seems fitting, given the book's easy charm. It's a funny romp from the first page to the last.

The hero, Ted, drives his astro van from Double Falls, New York, to LA, with no idea of what he's going to do when he gets there, and gets a job for a puppet show company. (No, that's not a typo.) His boss, Jack, takes Ted under his wing with the zest of Zorba the Greek crossed with John Wayne, or something like that. The twosome go on to take Vegas by storm. They blow some stuff up, meet women and some good and bad guys, and out of it all Ted receives a bizarre initiation into his true self. I think women as well as men will cheer Ted on, and wish they could have a mentor like Jack, who by the way is also independently wealthy. It's life at its best--impossible yet real.

Jon P. Bloch (The Kindle Book Review)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was with more than a little excitement that I read Astro Van. I've been a fan of Josh Flanagan's columns and reviews at for a few years now. As a reader of his non-fiction work, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to check out his fictional output. I am happy to report that Astro Van was everything I was expecting it to be.

The story is a lot of fun, with a quirky cast of characters and some genuine laugh out loud moments of comedy. It's tone reminded me of the kind of comedies that popped up in independent films of the 90s. The two main characters had the kind of relationship that Steve Buscemi would have on screen with Seymour Cassell.

My negatives are very few. There are some typos and the formatting isn't perfect, but the book is such a blast to read, you quickly forget about things like that. My main complaint is that I wish it was longer. Some additional length would allow certain incidents to happen a little more organically and not because it's what the author needed to happen at that time to advance the plot. But for purely selfish reasons, I also just wanted to spend more times with these characters. I especially developed a real fondness for Jack during the journey I took with him in this book, and I got a little sad at the end, knowing our time together was over.

I would easily recommend this book to anybody looking for a good read. It's a Hell of a lot of fun and at $2.99 you aren't going to find better bang for your entertainment dollar.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After finishing the novel last weekend, I can now say it's not a bad way to spend three bucks. Reading the book it's obvious that it's a first novel written in a hurry (it was written as part of National Novel Writing Month). There are parts that seem rushed and could have been fleshed out more. The biggest negative is that the book could have used a few more edits. Typos and mistakes are readily apparent, but this is beginning self-publishing so some leeway is deserved in that regard.

These matters aside, the book works very well. It is fast paced and fun. Ted is a good guy, an average guy who takes off to LA with nothing but his Astro Van. Ted begins working for Jack Herschfeld, a Jim Henson wannabe (who has no love for the Muppet creator) who became famous in the 70s for a Pufnstuf-esque children's television show. Before long, Ted and his Astro Van are on the road to Vegas with Jack, some puppets, and a mysterious car following them...and shooting at them. In the words of Jack,

"Just because a man can work a puppet doesn't mean he doesn't live the darkness."

The book is a comedic crime caper in the vein of Carl Hiassen or Elmore Leonard. It's not a profound book by any means, but it's not trying to be. It's a quick, fun read. Not bad at all for a first novel. Congratulations Josh! I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy the thought of supporting artists directly, and I've enjoyed Josh Flanagan's twitter stream for a couple years now, so I bought this on a whim when he tweeted the link a while back. I figured at $2.99, at the very least I'd be saying "I approve of what you're doing and want you to continue", and I'd possibly be blown away!

After reading the novel (it's a fairly quick read), I can say that I enjoyed the story, and it was pretty well told. Unfortunately, I kept being yanked out of the story by things I characterized as "needs an editor". There were typos, (a few) errors, and a bit of wandery-ness of story that while I was reading it, I kept saying to myself, "It's OK, and it's entertaining enough, but it's also clear there was no editor". This is only an assumption on my part - but I can't imagine that someone else would have let these sorts of problems slip through without being addressed.

To sum up: I enjoyed it, and I recommend it - definitely at this price! Josh clearly has talent, but if I were speaking directly to him about this, I'd say "please have someone you trust look it over, and try to incorporate their feedback." I have every expectation that his next effort will shine.
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