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Far Bright Star Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 26, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The book certainly packs a wallop and I am sure it will linger on with most readers mainly because of its extreme violence. I found Olmstead's writing style using short punchy sentences rather hard to get use to and perhaps a bit pretentious as if trying to combine Cormac McCarthy with Hemmingway. But no doubt the style works if you work at it. I almost gave up after 50 pages as I found those boring, then the next 50 pages I found extremely violent, and then surprised to find last 100 pages have a poetic dream like tone.
I found the subject of the book very similar to one of my favorites from many years ago. It being the 1958 THEY CAME TO CORDURA BY GLENDON SWARTHOUT (which I think is out of print but can be bought via Amazon as an import). Swarthout's book should not to be confused by the Gary Cooper movie which unfortunately changed the ending.Read more ›
A friend once said with good actors, during the performance you are caught up in the story and are unaware of just how good the acting is. I feel the same way about writers. The writer's style is one thing, but that doesn't mean you should be constantly aware of it, or that it should take priority over the story.
To get to my point: Olmstead's style is omnipresent to the point of feeling contrived. It's as if it were written to impress academics and literary critics (which it has), but it unnecessarily draws attention to itself, to the detriment of the story. It's like he has to justify his Guggenheim Fellowship and NEA grant to his academic peers who will surely shoot him down if he doesn't pull critical acclaim out of his hat. Or like he has to outdo Cormac McCarthy to write a literary western that is taken seriously.
I've only read a few westerns (McMurtry, McCarthy, Charles Portis, Pete Dexter, Elmore Leonard, E.L. Doctorow), but I've enjoyed all of them. So I was really looking forward to reading Far Bright Star. But again and again, I found my attention drifting as I read it. I simply found it boring. I knew that if I put it down, I'd never pick it back up. So I forced myself to plow through it. Even then, the most exciting part was knowing that it would soon be over and I could go read something better. That's not really a ringing endorsement, is it?
Olmstead has talent. But he needs to work harder to flesh out his characters and engage his reader, and worry a lot less about impressing his academic peers with his style. There's a good, solid story in here screaming to get out.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have never written a book review before and know I won't do it justice but I really liked "Far Bright Star". Read morePublished 13 days ago by Appleannie41
Far Bright Star is the story of a small U.S. Army cavalry detachment in Mexico during the 1916-1917 Pancho Villa Expedition (which was prompted by the raid of the Mexican... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Marcus
I love Mr. Olmsteads style, I even had 2 men read it and they agree, good story line, given in such a way the reader feels like they are there------although, I'm glad I wasn't :)Published 20 months ago by Norma M.
How did I get so lucky as to come across this novel? I did not know what pleasure I was in for. Tight, powerful, spare prose that knocked me under--I didn't want to come up for... Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by Sharyn Wolf