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Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America (Vintage Departures Edition) Paperback – November 3, 1998


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Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America (Vintage Departures Edition) + Old Glory : A Voyage Down the Mississippi + Bad Land: An American Romance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st edition (November 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570101X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701016
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By ship from Liverpool, British writer Raban ( Old Glory ) arrived in New York, "a city in a round-the-clock state of emergency," to begin his quest for the real America. In Alabama he found "Calvinist" values of godliness, hearth and home, and resistance to change "riding higher than at any time since the Civil War." Sated on "Christ-haunted" cookouts and family suppers, he flew to "impressively tolerant" Seattle, where only intruding Californians were discriminated against, and was struck by the zeal and energy of Korean immigrants. In Seattle he adopted an alter ego, "Rainbird," that of a settled-in novelist, and in the Florida Keys he impersonated a floating outlaw in Miami Vice style. This distancing device lets him step back to assess the potential and heartbreak of a country where an ache for transcendence is channeled into TV, fashion, star-worship, the lottery and escapist fantasy. Wonderfully observant, often hilarious, the book is written in almost sensual prose with the astonished integrity of a visitor who dropped in from another planet. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Since Crevecoeur and de Tocqueville, Europeans have set sail for America to try to get a handle on this vast, wild New World. Here, Briton Raban makes his second foray (the first being Old Glory , LJ 9/15/81), sailing from Liverpool like an immigrant of yore and landing in places as diverse as New York City, rural Alabama, Seattle, and the Florida Keys. Raban's eye for the unique detail allows him to delve into the American psyche, and this account is far more than a travelog. However, his tendency to embrace the seamy stereotype is disturbing. His New York is out of A Clockwork Orange ; a nasty xenophobia festers below the surface of the New South; and his lawless Keys resemble a watery Dodge City. Nevertheless, recommended.
- Jim Burns, Pompano Beach City Lib., Fla.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I heartily recommend this book as well aas all other books Raban has written.
Marion M. Giuffria
I am certain that if Mr. Raban was to write a book about paint drying, , , , it would be engaging and entertaining!!!
Len
I can't help but wonder if the shallowness he seems to see in others is in reality just a reflection.
T. Burke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A Brit who has travelled extensively in the U.S shares his impressions and voyages. Very perceptive, and communicates a great love of the places he's been and above all of the people he's met. Usually classified under "travel", everything I've read by Raban reads as easily as your favourite novel. "Hunting Mr. Heartbreak" takes the reader from New York (an amazing description of Macy's, and how the city is divided into "sky people" and "street people"), through Alabama, to Seattle and then to the Florida keys. Raban knows how to capture the spirit of a place through an interaction he observes on the street, a billboard on the side of the road, an article in the local newspaper. He is always gentle, humourous, understated. If you don't have time to take that road trip, this is definitely the next best thing. I have no idea why this book is out of print. I have over ten friends reading this book on my recommendation, and they can't stop talking about it. Get it any way you can.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Wooding on September 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Raban's four books written to date on America-Old Glory, Hunting Mr Heartbreak, Badlands and Passage to Juneau-are all elegant and entertaining meditations on America and what it is to be American. Although each book is very different, they all feature the same blend of candid autobiography, careful historical exegesis, vivid description, and wry humour. Each one is a rewarding work, but Hunting Mr Heartbreak is in my view his masterpiece. Each chapter of the book is a self-contained episode in a personal odyssey, which takes as its starting point the voyage made by the immigrants who flocked to the New World from Europe. The book was written over ten years ago and a few parts of it have inevitably lost a little of their resonance, but his exploration of the historical currents underlying American life and of the concept(s) of Americanness itself remains as relevant and perceptive as ever. Raban's skillful interweaving of allegory and analysis, cleverness and comedy, wonder and unease has resulted in a rich and endlessly fascinating book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nto62 on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Raban's written better books - Old Glory and Badland, to name two - nonetheless, Mr. Heartbreak is an engaging book that is a delight to read. Seeking the singular experience of becoming American, Raban sets up shop in New York City, Guntersville (Alabama), Seattle, and Key West to investigate the newly emigrated and those whose families emigrated generations ago. His observations of people and places are insightful, intriguing and occasionally quite funny.
He is an accomplished observer, capable of peering beyond the surface to uncover what lies beneath. The book's opening, in which Raban describes his sea voyage from Liverpool to New York, is particularly entertaining. So, too, his sojourn in Alabama where he provides gleeful commentary on the irony of a town embracing provincialism whilst stuggling with worldy challenges. I was tempted to award this book 5 stars, but it simply doesn't measure up to other Raban efforts. All the same, it is an excellent selection on anyone's reading list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on April 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathan Raban is, unless I'm missing some unknown genius out there (always a possibility), the best contemporary travel writer out there - hands, anchors, flaps down. I think the main reason for this is that his writing is not MERE travel writing, as such, but is as much introspective as explorative. He allows the places he visits to seep into him and produces narratives that seamlessly mingle inner and outer travel as no other modern writer does. He is also keenly aware - or makes himself keenly aware - of the history of the places he sojourns, such as Guntersville, Alabama, giving his narratives a further layer of texture and depth. Added to all these qualities, he is extremely literate and literary - And yet for all these depths, he is so much fun!

There are not many books which cause me to laugh aloud when reading them; Fielding's Eighteenth Century Classic Tom Jones was the last, if memory serves. But this book did it for me, particularly the one hundred page centrepiece of the book, the chapter "In Our Valley", set in Guntersville, Alabama: His (successful) attempt to "rent" or borrow a dog - the Labrador "Gypsy", his renting a cabin in a neighbourhood called Polecat Alley, imagining himself as a Southern squire if he buys the lakefront property a local real estate dealer is attempting to foist on him etc--Perhaps it's because I myself am a transplanted Englishman living in the South, but these hundred pages were golden to me, and worth as much as the entire book- particularly when Raban notices he's picking up a Southern accent and starting to call himself "Mr. Rayburn" (to be intoned with long-stressed Southern syllables), as the rest of the town has denominated him.

Well, I've gone on enough. Time for me, as Raban puts it, to "flat-mash the gas pedal" and let you readers do the further exploring.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is another thoroughly enjoyable book that Mr. Raban has produced. As good as Old Glory, Hunting he is a book that deserves to be read. I save his books for trips so that I can savour each and every page. Memorable accounts of his sea journey over and his time in Guntersville, Alabama live on years after reading.
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