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Counting Coup Hardcover – October 24, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Struggling almost from the first page to find its speed, this ungainly road-trip novel is burdened with clich‚s and redundancies, and stumbles along under the weight of stillborn characters until it finally sputters to a halt. Charlie Sarris, an itinerant handyman, is a 60-something veteran of WWII suffering from alcoholism and depression. Toothless and emphysemic, he encounters John Stone, an itinerant Sioux (maybe) medicine man who introduces him to the spiritual world of Indian religion. John persuades Charlie to join him in a vision quest, which involves a sweat lodge ceremony, during which John is confronted by his archenemy, Whiteshirt, a rival shaman, who then spiritually pursues the pair in a wild, drunken chase down the eastern seaboard, where the novel grinds to a nervous halt in a series of highly coincidental and improbable events. Vagueness of setting (Pennsylvania, New York?) and era ('60s, '70s, '80s?) cause frustration, and few plot lines are sustained for more than two or three pages. Contrivance beaches are furnished with both working airplanes and handy twigs is coupled with inconsistency in the presentation of the characters' main traits, and the confusion of internal thought with spoken dialogue produces an implausible narrative. The Indian lore is thin (and specious) and becomes tedious and repetitive early on. This is an ambitious effort that could have incorporated magical realism and mystical notions into a gritty quest to discover the value of life, … la Kerouac and Steinbeck, the two models Dann (The Man Who Melted, etc.) acknowledges in an afterword. Unfortunately, it becomes an endurance test for the reader, who must follow two poorly realized characters as they struggle to make a confused story meaningful.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Author

My characters often have different "intentions" than their author, who often sits bemusedly in front of the laptop while the characters engage in their own conversations and take the "plot" in directions I never intended. I had intended Counting Coup to be a straight-forward road novel, a novel about two men who are at the end of their lives and decide to show the world that they are still alive, still vital, and can still drink, shout, and shake the trees. I thought I’d write a novel in the tradition of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, or John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Originally, I thought it would be interesting to explore the interaction of two men from different cultures in similar circumstances. But once again the research changed the story...and of course my life.

The elements of magical realism in Counting Coup are close to the truth of my own private experiences. I have found as I enter my more mature, reflective years that my "real" life is scattered with these small bits of magic realism. Or perhaps it’s just that as I wander through that distant country that is my past I recast the ordinary into the numinal.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (October 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765301857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765301857
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,162,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JACK DANN is a multiple-award winning author who has written or edited over seventy-five books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral, which was #1 on The Age Bestseller list, and The Silent, which Library Journal chose as one of their 'Hot Picks' and wrote: "This is narrative storytelling at its best... Most emphatically recommended." Dann lives in Australia on a farm overlooking the sea and "commutes" back and forth to Los Angeles and New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have not had time to read it yet.
But every Jack Dann novel or short story has been an example of how to write with more than a "plot" to keep you hooked.
He understands THAT LANGUAGE has more than one way of communicating. IT'S NOT EATING A BAG OF CHIPS!
It is not a Grisham "page-turner"....
It's the JOURNEY... getting to the last page is last thing you want to happen.
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