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Jernigan Paperback – March 31, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 31, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679737138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737131
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Self-pitying, alcoholic widower Peter Jernigan, unable to communicate with his confused teenage son and emotionally distanced from his live-in lover, narrates this depressing first novel. Author tour.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Well conceived and well written, this book examines the tragedy of a man whose life epitomizes failure on every level. A victim of circumstances, Peter Jernigan is now emotionally crippled and psychologically impoverished. His already distorted personal relationships, skewed further by a dependency on alcohol, sweep him forward, with horrifying swiftness, into a nightmarish cycle of failure, loss, and spiritual death. Bright but unsuccessful, Jernigan drifts through a bleak life that only becomes worse. He has lost his father and wife in successive accidents and now must deal with the adolescent traumas of his only son. His encounter with the divorced mother of his son's girlfriend promises to lighten his life but instead complicates it even further. A disturbing first novel, Jernigan will cause readers, especially men, to shake their complacency and perhaps reevaluate their own circumstances.
- Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
It's a perfect mixtures of dark humor and heartbreak.
Eli
As I raced through this work, I constantly found myself saying "hey, I know this guy!"
Thomas Moody
Should be on the shortlist of best novels of the past 25 years.
M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Crane Gross on December 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Just finished Jernigan and was nothing short of blown away. A modern day Catcher in the Rye, Peter Jernigan tells us his twisted tale from the same padded room where Holden told his. Gates has crafted an important work, which is better than his most recent Preston Falls, because we actually care for the people in this book, despite their chronic alcoholism, atrocious parenting, and undeniable taste for bunny meat. The publisher should be ashamed that this book is out of print!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stevie Dal on January 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
Whenever i get into a "best book of all time " debate with my friends i always lie a little (!) and go for a safe choice , something predictable maybe like Great Expectations , Lolita or The Great Gatsby . I've read and thoroughly loved all of those but..... if i was to be totally honest i would have to say that the real answer is a straight choice between two classic reads Preston Falls and Jernigan , both by the same author , David Gates .
Now , i'm not some kind of literary expert or anything , just a blue - collar worker at a paper mill, so i'm not too good at actually telling you why i love them so much , other reviewers who like them do a much better job than i ever would attempt to . BUT , what i do know is that i love those two books and i go back to them over and over again . i must have read each one about 4 or 5 times now and they never get tired .
I'd like to thank David Gates for giving me so much pleasure over the years and i'd also like to beg him to get busy and put out more books !

PS his book of short stories is also superb but not up there with Raymond Carver or Richard Yates (no shame in that mind you ).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tim Poe (timpoe@alltel.net) on November 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is simply an astonishingly good book; and, unfortunately, has become hard to find. Moving, compelling and painful, it continues the tradition of the great American "anti-hero." A caring protagonist searching for his soul, for meaning, in a society that no longer seems to believe such things exist. Jernigan seems much like Holden Caufield, (and both books are written in first person; the protagonist retelling events leading to his presence in an institution). Jernigan, however, is reaching mid-life in contemporary America; his problems are greater and his wit and intelligence far more mature than Salinger's adolescent. Hopefully this novel will eventually receive the attention it deserves; until then, find a copy if you can.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Gager on February 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is the darkest painting of suburbia I've read in awhile. If your life stinks, replace it with Jernigan's. Here's what you get----alcoholism, self-abuse, teenage son on drugs, shacking with mother of teenage son's girlfriend, death of wife, death of rabbits for food, loss of job, plus did I mention drinking large quanities of gin. Now why does this character continue to shot himself in the foot (or in his case hand)? Seems like he just doesn't give two hoots. What makes the book work though, is Jernigan's wisecracking nature, basically condescending everything, as his life drops away by his own powers. This is brought on by the tight, descriptive naratives by David Gates, Jernigan's creator.
Not that Jernigan is alone in his life of horror. There's a cast of characters that are barely functioning. Of course, Jernigan cannot stand them. He's going to do things his way and it's a way so unimaginable yet possible, it leaves you riveted.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is a true killer. Like a suburban "Heart of Darkness," it suggests what evil lurks in the modern American male... and he continues to get away with it all...Peter Jernigan is a bizarre and somehow totally believable mix of charismatic intellectual and emotional bully. It's probably impossible to read Peter's story and then NOT make attempts to change your own evil ways. In the tradition of "Hunger" by Knut Hamsun, and the better works of John Fante, "Jernigan" has got to be one of the most brutally-honest and lovingly-crafted books one can read. Jernigan is a desperate character, who, sadly, all too many of us can relate to. Gates has a new book out, "Preston Falls," which, while remarkably similar to "Jernigan," is written with the same kind of astonishing clarity. In my opinion, it doesn't get any better than this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "kathrynka" on May 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
...This is brilliant and dark but also monstrously funny. A comedy in the way that Lolita and Under the Volcano are comedies. The self-destructive hero is also wise and self-aware; he articulates the politically incorrect thoughts most of us sanitize for public consumption. There's a wonderful scene in which Jernigan and his teenage son's suicidal friend watch It's a Wonderful Life that plays up the darker tones in Capra's classic. Don't read this if you're looking for something "uplifting." If you want an original, self-mocking voice that's rendered without one false note, don't miss it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eli on February 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is such a wonderful, wonderful book. It's a perfect mixtures of dark humor and heartbreak. You come to care so much for Peter Jernigan that it hurts you when he's being self-destructive. David Gates is a literary genius!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is simply an astonishingly good book; and, unfortunately, has become hard to find. Moving, compelling and painful, it continues the tradition of the great American "anti-hero." A caring protagonist searching for his soul, for meaning, in a society that no longer seems to believe such things exist. Jernigan seems much like Holden Caufield, (and both books are written in first person; the protagonist retelling events leading to his presence in an institution). Jernigan, however, is reaching mid-life in contemporary America; his problems are greater and his wit and intelligence far more mature than Salinger's adolescent. Hopefully this novel will eventually receive the attention it deserves; until then, find a copy if you can.
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