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Cold Snap Paperback – January 3, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Thom Jones may be one of the few authors whose acknowledgments thank not only his dog, wife, and agent, but also Wyeth/Ayerst Laboratories and Stuart Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of Effexor and Elavil--"drugs so good they feel illegal." Likewise, Cold Snap, Jones's second volume of short fiction, is so good these stories feel (but thankfully are not) illegal. In typically manic style they draw tragicomic portraits of boxers, Marines, and other assorted tough-guy types--even, in "Rocketfire Red," a part-Aborigine surfer girl turned drag racer and international model. Pitchman extraordinaire Ad Magic from The Pugilist at Rest returns, writing fraudulent but devastatingly effective direct-mail appeals for Global Aid even as he loses his mind on the combined effects of Dexedrine, paregoric, malaria, and a thumb smashed by Rwandan soldiers. In "Way Down Deep in the Jungle," another Africa story, cynical Dr. Koestler's baboon absconds with an entire bottle of whiskey, then entertains the natives with shockingly accurate imitations of the American smoking, masturbating, and moving his bowels. A plastic surgeon boxes his way through a fatal heart attack in "Ooh Baby Baby"; a diabetic with an amputated foot feeds a black widow spider in "Pickpocket"; the young Marine of "Pot Shack" compounds his foolishness in joining up ("Why did you join? Why did you join? Etc. Why did you fucking join?") by volunteering for recon, "where they take awful to a new level." It's the kind of fictional universe in which a manic doctor plays Russian roulette to cheer himself up, and the result is somehow, improbably, funny. But these stories go well beyond whistling in the dark. They are in fact a way to hold our 20th-century demons at bay, as the epigraph from 1 Samuel suggests: "Seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre: and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well." May we all be well, and may Thom Jones play on. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Offering 10 stories reprinted from magazines like the New Yorker and Playboy, Jones's second collection of short fiction displays the gritty, fatalistic vision and narrative adrenaline that distinguished his NBA-nominated The Pugilist at Rest. Set in Africa, the West Coast and other locales, these tales are teeming slices of life, full of unexpected pathos and black humor amid imagery of warfare, starvation, disease and decay. Jones's most vivid heroes?star-crossed doctors and loners, battling manic episodes and self-destructive behavior?decamp to Africa to escape dismal lives at home or return home from Africa in antisocial states. In the title story, a manic depressive doctor, stripped of his license, just back from a stint in Nairobi with Global Aid, spends two days with his lobotomized younger sister?visiting the zoo, watching TV and chatting with Jehovah's Witnesses. In "Superman, My Son," a supermarket magnate, beleaguered by debt, pays a visit to his son?a larger-than-life, born-again manic depressive with a superman complex. "Quicksand" chronicles the unlikely dalliance between a gonzo copywriter for Global Aid, who suffers from malaria and a broken thumb, and a gorgeous Danish doctor travelling from Rwanda to Zaire. The hardwon epiphanies of these embattled individuals make horrifyingly clear the legacy of warfare in the developing world and the everyday tragedies of contemporary America.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (January 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571179452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571179459
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher A. Smith on December 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like _Pugilist At Rest_ which preceded it, _Cold Snap_ is an excellent work and should be considered and one of the most consistently outstanding collection of stories in contemporary American fiction.
Jones is an author who writes about what he knows. He is a former marine and an ex-boxer, and therefore marines and boxers feature largely in his stories. Jones' disappointing follow-up, _Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine_, unfortunately shows that this is not a formula with unlimited longevity. This collection, however, works splendidly.
I have a great appreciation for Jones' authenticity. He gets it right. The closing story "Dynamite Hands" is a masterpiece. Not a word out of place, a perfectly crafted gem. Jones depicts perfectly the complexity of boxing, and manages to successfully capture an amazing range of emotions in and out of the ring.
Another notable standout is "Way Down Deep in the Jungle" about a New Zealand doctor on an aid mission in Africa, and his unlikely companion: a pet baboon. Surrounded by death, AIDS, corruption, and despair, the baboon (vilified by the native staff) is his sole distraction.
Not pretty stuff, much of what you will find here; _Cold Snap_ is a blend of death, drug abuse, suicide, and various other dark elements of the human condition. But somehow Jones manages to craft some likeable characters and put them into situations which shed some light on our humanity. An excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
Thom Jones is one of the best fiction writers in America. Joyce Carol Oates once said that reading Jones is like speeding down the highway in a car with the windows rolled down. It's better than that! People who come from the walks of life that Jones has come from are not supposed to be verbal, much less have the ability to write. Jones can not only write, he can create alternate worlds in the space of 2,000-to-5,000 words. In every one of the stories in "Cold Snap," he does just that. You'll come away wiser, changed. Only the best fiction can do that.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of short stories by the celebrated author of THE PUGILIST AT REST offers more of the same: hard-hitting writing, edgy story-telling, and characters that are gritty, flawed, and likable all at once. Jones proves his mastery of the short story, and if many of his characters seem to be versions of each other, it is usually a welcome redundancy. You get the feeling that Jones is experimenting to see what else he can do with these various anti-heroes, what other versions of their lives he can tell. Or perhaps he is telling stories of the sort of characters he knows best. Some of the elements that held Pugilist together resurface here-boxing, drug addiction, tough men past their prime-and a few new ones surface: Africa, diabetes, eccentric doctors. My favorite stories include "Way Down Deep In the Jungle" about a Kiwi doctor in Zaire with an alcoholic baboon as a pet, "Oh Baby Baby" about a hot-shot Hollywood plastic surgeon with problems with his insides, and "Dynamite Hands" about some boxers. While I didn't like the collection as a whole as much as I liked PUGILIST, these stories in particular are fantastic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this writer. I was given this book as a gift about 14 years ago. I lost it a few years back and had been searching every where for it. I was so happy to to find it on Amazon. I definitely recommend this read to anyone who enjoys Bukowski, Thompson, Welsh and the like.
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Format: Paperback
Short stories are my gig, and upon finding Thom Jones (Cold Snap & The Pugilist at Rest), I'll simply say -- in case you care, because if you didn't, you certainly wouldn't be reading reader reviews, now would you? -- that Mr. Jones is the very zenith of the art. Yes, his stories are tense, dark, foreboding, gritty -- and real and often very funny. The dark humor found in Thom Jones' writing mirrors that of this so-called "real life," complete with subtle affronts to the laughable state of humanity, the shells of men and the chemical escapism that entices many of them into subscription, and characters real enough to make you think twice about with whom you allow yourself to be surrounded. All in all, a fantastic, stunning compilation. Read it. Twice. You won't regret it.
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this writer'd be one I'd take with. Well, perhaps not the writer per se, as that would not only imply foreknowledge of said stuckness, but be ultra creepy. Expansive in every way. Crawls inside the brain & swims around forever. Wow, I think this review is approaching creepy. Never mind.
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Format: Hardcover
For me and know many in Spain thinking the same, Thom Jones is simply the BEST alive storyteller. Could write a thousand pages trying to explain how good he is and why. Still expecting more and more of him. Would gladly pay more than to any other for reading him. After having read about four thousand books, consider myself authorised to say what is or not or should, be considered a masterwork. And the three Jone's books, for me, doubtless are. To say he writes about boxing or compare him to Hemigway is simple nonsense. His scope and or range in writing is a wide one and would say writes about life, in a lot of senses and points of view. From black humour to moving poetry the strength, brilliance and deepness of this author won't let You indifferent. Comparing him to Hemingway would simply make Hemingway bigger in his story telling than he was. Jones is miles ahead. He will make think and feel at once. And there is nothing alike. Have become an addict to his writing. He is already an ICON of the second half of XX century. Would say only Irvine Welsh in some novels goes so far in literary quality. In short stories, he is simply THE BEST. READ IT and You will see. We are facing an already classic. A GENIUS THAT WILL REMAIN.
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