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Exit A Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Swofford explores teenage love in his uneven first novel, which opens in 1989 at Yokata Air Base outside Tokyo (the title comes from the name of a nearby train stop). Severin Boxx, a 17-year-old military brat, plays football and pines for Virginia Sachiko Kindwall, the half-Japanese daughter of the American base commander, who's also his coach. Virginia's involvement in some not-so-petty crime (her heroine is Faye Dunaway of Bonnie and Clyde) leads her into serious trouble, which separates the young lovers seemingly forever. Swofford, as one might expect from the author of the acclaimed Jarhead (2003), his memoir of being a Marine sniper in the first Gulf War, clearly knows the U.S. military culture, though some readers may find his view of it overly harsh. He also does a good job of depicting the strange mélange where Japanese and American cultures coexist, but he's less convincing in his portrayal of Boxx's adult life (and doomed marriage) in San Francisco, while the ending is much too neat to be truly compelling. 7-city author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In Jarhead (2003), Swofford, a former marine, compellingly chronicled his experiences in the first Gulf War. In his first novel, he appears to draw on his upbringing as an air-force dependent. Seventeen-year-old Severin Boxx is a straight-arrow football player who lives on Yokota, the U.S. Air Force base just outside Tokyo. He is in love with Virginia Kindwall, who fantasizes that she is Bonnie Parker and robs convenience stores. Virginia's father, the base general, is Severin's football coach. When Virginia tries to recruit Severin for a life of crime, he refuses to join her, but the intensity of this brief encounter is enough to bind them together for life. The book starts off strongly, setting Severin's dilemma against the uneasy, and vividly depicted, symbiosis between base and city, and the heady emotions of youth seem perfect for this intersection of worlds. But when we meet Severin and Virginia as adults, the book loses its momentum, and when they meet again, the book loses its way. Is it about reconciling with authoritarian fathers? The possibility of recapturing first love? Our inability to escape the past? The difficulty of living in two worlds? Ultimately, Swofford is much better at rendering unfamiliar worlds (military bases, criminal life) than familiar ones (college campuses, relationships). Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (January 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743564634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743564632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,520,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. After the war, he was educated at American River College; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa and Lewis and Clark College. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, The Iowa Review, and other publications. A Michener-Copernicus Fellowship recipient, he lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I loved the opening two pages of this novel but found it bland after that. Some readers noted that Exit A presents a unique story or covers a unique theme, but Swofford doesn't really take the subject beyond the obvious. We know that there are tensions between our military personnel and the native populations in the countries in which our bases are located (the latest rape case in Japan is just one instance, of course).

Swofford offered me nothing new about military brats or children of mixed parentage. I could have gotten his take from the nightly news.

If you want a more sophisticated treatment of this subject, try a fantastic novel by Don Lee called Country of Origin. It's an outstanding take on children growing up in the in-between world of the military, a thought-provoking examination of bastardization and mixed-race identity and the novel also asks difficult questions about what it means to be an American.
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Format: Hardcover
Exit A is Anthony Swofford's newest novel. While Jarhead was the autobiographical account of his Marine adventures in the Gulf War, Exit A is clearly fiction, but with a military theme. Whereas Pat Conroy's military-themed, growing-up novels drip with grit and passion, Exit A is simply... unbelievable. I mean, the commanding general's daughter (Virginia) decides she is a modern day Bonnie Parker (as in "Bonnie and Clyde")? And the captain of the general's high school football team (Severin), after intercepting a pass and running it in for a touchdown (in Japan, of all places), strips down in the end zone in a blaze of "the 'man' doesn't tell ME what to do anymore"?

The story line goes downhill from there. Virginia out of prison (had a daughter in prison), Severin in a loveless, schizophrenic marriage, and the dying general asking Severin to "find my daughter." Sure, boss! I sensed a John Irving wannabe writing style here.

The reality of Jarhead "jarred" me. I admit I had similar expectations for Exit A. But the "jarring" style of writing that formed his autobiography was absent. This is not a requirement for a good yarn, but the characters in Exit A never reach a level of "reality" that makes the story believable, and that IS a requirement. Obviously, Lord of the Rings is not a true story. But didn't you "believe" the reality of the characters? Didn't you believe Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye) could be real? Severin Boxx and the other characters don't pass this test.

Don't forget to catch this line: "His lips were glued shut with dried mucus, and his mouth tasted like a dog's tongue boiling in a pot" (p. 215).

"Virginia knew she was being a bad daughter" (p. 109).
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Format: Hardcover
Having read and enjoyed Jarhead, I eagerly awaited Swofford's debut novel, Exit A. It's the story of a confused young man and a desperate young woman who eventually reunite in their early thirties. It takes place mostly in the Tokyo area in the late 1980's on an American military base. There is some autobiographical background to the book that Swofford skillfully brings to the forefront. His characters have believability. As for the readability of the book, the writing, at times, seems as though it was done on post-it notes and then arranged on a dining room table. But the story kept me engaged and without giving anything away, I was disappointed when it ended-I would have read more. That's what makes it a worthwhile read and it's what makes me eagerly await Swofford's next novel.
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Format: Hardcover
Having mostly enjoyed Swofford's first book, the hugely successful Gulf War memoir Jarhead, I was curious to see what his fiction would be like. This somewhat uneven debut is written in much the same style prose, and does an equally good job taking the reader into a world they probably don't know firsthand. In Jarhead, Swofford himself was our guide to the first Gulf War, while here teenage Severin Boxx is our all-American guide to life on an American military base in Tokyo.

The first section is set on and around Yokata Air Base circa 1989, and is very effective at capturing the uneasy mix of American and Japanese culture. The base commandant's half-Japanese daughter Virginia is the living embodiment of this cross-cultural tension. Somewhat predictably, she's a loose cannon -- a crackling vortex of cliched teenage rebellion with a bizarre fascination with Faye Dunnaway's Bonnie from the 1972 film Bonnie and Clyde. As it happens, her father is also the high school football coach, and linebacker Severin's loyalties are torn between his coach and Virginia, whom he has a crush on. Swofford resolves this tension in a fairly over-the-top scene at a football game, which segues into a wholly ridiculous subplot involving a Japanese hood and kidnappings engineered by North Korean intelligence.

The curtain drops, and then raises some fifteen years later. Severin is now in his early 30s, living a very comfortable life in San Francisco with his moneyed professor of psychology wife. Although the plain-thinking teenager has grown up to earn a doctorate in French somethingorother, he's turned his back on academia and works as a groundskeeper at his wife's school.
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