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Boonville: A Novel Paperback – January 7, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060516216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060516215
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An eclectic knot of hippies, rednecks, marijuana growers, assorted eccentrics and Miami expatriates inhabit the California town of Boonville, pop. 715. Anderson's debut novel is a jolting journey among these misfits, occasionally witty and insightful but more often rambling, losing its way amid too many disparate pop culture references and unwieldy attempts at edgy prose ("Outside the apartment, Florida air hung as hot and tight as a sunbather's butt thong"). John Gibson leaves an empty life in sunny Miami after a tussle with his girlfriend and heads west to the house his grandmother bequeathed him in Boonville. Upon arriving, he immediately runs afoul of the locals, an odd mixture of inbred hill people and various contingents of hippies, including leftovers from the 1960s and a more contemporary crop. He's relieved when he meets commune-raised Sarah McKay, with whom he feels a connection, probably because she's remotely normal and beautiful. Sarah has her own set of issues to plow through, however, which she does in interminable fashion. The plot hinges on John's attempts to escape beatings by Sarah's ex-husband, a violence-prone redneck, and his interaction with the denizens of Boonville. Characters like the grossly fat Pensive Prairie Sunset, a counterculture holdout who spouts hackneyed lines about male patriarchy and Eastern religion, fall flat. The narrative relies so heavily on the far-out and fantastical that when it attempts to ground itself in human feeling, it scrambles for solid footing. In the end, Boonville is just another place where dreams stagnate.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...a great first novel...(Anderson) has a language and style all his own...bracingly fresh...uproarious." -- San Francisco Chronicle, November 11, 2001

"...the funniest (debut novel) since Philip Roth's Goodbye, Columbus...very, very funny...Anderson may be the WASP Lenny Bruce." -- Anderson Valley Advertiser November 21, 2001

"A sardonic and beautifully imagined first novel...pages of well-tuned humor...distinguished by an exemplary eye for emotional detail." -- SF Weekly, October 31-November 6, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

On second thought, never mind...
villekulla
Your time would be better spent visiting Boonville (especially the Anderson Valley Brewing Company) rather than reading "Boonville".
1040 Howard Street
Character development (and little there is of it) is stilted and unmerited.
Ancient_Fossil

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Monte Williams on March 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
(From my Zentertainment.com review):
That the strange little town of Boonville, California is an obscure target makes it no less an easy one.
And if I told you that the first word in the novel is "Boonville" and the last is "Yee-haw," you might fairly assume that Robert Mailer Anderson lets the obvious gags write themselves and adds nothing worth a second look.
Not at all. I have lived in Boonville for just over a year now myself, and in fact I only read Anderson's novel for that sad little "I can see my house from here!" thrill, but if anything, the familiar setting proved to be a mild distraction from what is otherwise a hilarious and morbidly charming book.
John Gibson inherits a cabin and a demented legacy from his grandmother and reluctantly travels from Florida to California, leaving his girlfriend of several years in the process. He arrives in town on page 11, and by page 72 he has already decided, "F**k it... F**k it all. F**k being hung over and getting beat up... Most of all, f**k Boonville."
But he doesn't quite manage to get out, and soon he meets Sarah McKay, a young "hippie by association" who is more ambitious and self-aware than her fellow dropouts at the Waterfall commune, and thus inevitably more bitter, as well. She and John share a distracted but very real attraction and interest in one another, but little comes of it in any traditional or predictable sense due to an unlikely series of obstacles, ranging from naked hippies grunting menacingly on all fours to violent rednecks whose idea of reconstructive surgery is super-glue to reattach a chopped lip.
Anderson provides (pop) cultural context without resorting to the simple name dropping of lesser writers.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Boonville is like Carl Hiaasen crossed with Updike's Rabbit stories. Hilarious! A page turner. Energy in each sentence. Dark in it's humor, the funniest passages ring absolutely true, dealing with the human condition and the big question of why we exist. I can't remember a better first novel, maybe Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this book in San Francisco on the way to visit the Mendocino Coast. I grew up in a small town ( We played Boonville in basketball)in the area and found this book to be a hoot and a fairly accurate portrayal of small town life in Northern California. From the "hip" alternative culture that can safely hide in a small town to the more established residents who have been there for generations, this brought a feeling of Deja vu to me. I am one of those who "escaped" and enjoyed the trip back, probably because it has been many years and was certainly temporary! Also enjoyed to references to small towns in the area, including my own, which I have never seen in print before. It is clear that the author has spent his time in Boonville. I enjoyed this book a lot.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Boonville" is not a great book. not at all. However, It kept me interested for a week and it had it's moments, such as the softball game and a young woman's struggle with her unborn morality. But it was kinda hokey, too; Cliche depictions of feminists, locals and ignorant yuppies sipping pinot noir.
that said, hippies, or people with new age tendancies, need not even crack open this book as Anderson has his fun with you guys....and he did make me laugh when doing so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dixie Diamond on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I don't know anything about the real-life basis of this book and I don't really care. I picked it up as a quick read, with no expectations. It's not the Great American Novel

Downside: It needs some editing. The storyline with Balostrasi went nowhere, served no purpose, and should have been left out. Sarah's character never filled out beyond the descriptions on the page. There were a few too many undifferentiated rednecks. It's a bit wordy (I didn't mind this but I some people might). The last chapter could have been omitted completely; it tied up ends that didn't need any more tying-up.

Upside: It was funny (people, get over yourselves). Even the characters that other reviewers have complained were mocked earned a measure of the author's and protagonist's affection and admiration (and the protagonist himself is mock-able). Anyone who thinks the characters were over-the-top doesn't get out enough; I know plenty of people who are this eccentric and more. The descriptions and ideas, while overwritten, are entertaining and sometimes insightful.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By angela christian on December 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I live near to Boonville and can relate intensely with the dark humor of small towns. This book's language itself is something of a genius creation. I think we will see Robert Mailer Anderson become one of the greatest authors of the new millennium!
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Format: Paperback
Boonville is a book that is funny and witty in places, but plodding and unfocused in others. Its most consistent flaw, however, is that the humor is too broad and cliched to be more than slightly amusing. Gun-toting rednecks who drive (while intoxicated, naturally) pick-up trucks and muscle cars, man-hating, cliche-spouting feminists, and pot-smoking hippies are such easy targets that to do these type of characters justice, you have to give them a little more nuance and depth than Anderson does here.

John Gibson is the protagonist and "straight man" of this novel, a young man who moves from Miami to his deceased grandmother's cabin in Boonville, California. As soon as he arrives in Boonville, the reader sees that this is going to be one of these places, common in books and indie movies, where almost every character is quirky and offbeat in one way or another. The residents of Boonville are so isolated from mainstream society that they have their own language. This is more distracting than amusing, as most of the time I couldn't figure out what the speakers of this dialect were supposed to be saying.

John has recently broken up with his girlfriend, and is tired of his job and family in Miami. He has conveniently inherited his eccentric grandmother's cabin. The grandmother had been considered weird even by Boonville's standards, and when John arrives he finds himself surrounded by bizarre squirrel sculptures. In typical novelistic timing, the first time John walks into a Boonville pub, he meets a beautiful young woman, Sarah McKay, who was raised on a local hippie commune. Sarah, unfortunately, has a crazy ex-husband who stalks John for the rest of the novel.
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