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Keep the Change Paperback – October 31, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 31, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679730338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679730330
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nearing middle age, painter and cowboy Joe Starling contemplates the relationships and ties of his youth. "McGuane makes what could have been an indecipherable personal quest into a vivid, even suspenseful story, in language that seems to have been stripped clean of excess, reduced to only the most evocative descriptions and accurate emotions. Even for a writer of his standing, a novel as unfaltering as this one is a rarity," lauded PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Joe Starling leaves his family's Montana ranch as a teenager, attending Yale and later becoming a successful painter in New York. Now in a state of emotional and spiritual disarray, he returns, hoping to lay claim to the run-down ranch and "find a restored coordination for his life" in the old values of hard work and closeness to the land. But his romantic notions run aground on the realities of the modern West: He ultimately loses the ranch to his mad Uncle Smitty's scheming and discovers the duplicity of the seemingly innocent Ellen, the ranch owner's daughter he romanced one summer and now longs to return to. Satire and sadness mingle in this low-key, yet resonant, novel as Joe learns the truth of an old American proverb: You can't go home again.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on December 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
While Montana is cast as "the last best place" by many of its writers, McGuane seems to see the place as a land of lost hope and illusion. Knee deep in ironies, the story turns in many ways on a faded painting in an abandoned ranch house that Joe, the main character, remembers from boyhood. Grown up now and a painter himself, who doesn't paint anymore, he abandons a Cuban girlfriend in Florida and fetches up after a cross country drive at the old home ranch to spend a season fattening cattle for market while having no faith that much of anything will happen to give his life any direction or purpose.

While most of this story takes place in Montana and most of its characters are nominally Montanans, they seem unmoored not only to the land but to any reason for being there. Those who come from elsewhere tire of it and leave. Those who would leave can't. Only a land-hungry rancher Overstreet seems to have a purpose in life, and it's clearly an empty one - buying up more land.

An old girlfriend figures in the story, and her jealous husband, and there are family members who are able to betray each other, and do. The relations between men and women swing wildly between romance and erotic encounters to bitterness. Greed lurks darkly everywhere. It's a vision not unlike the one in Larry McMurtry's "Texasville." His Duane is a distant cousin of Joe, and it's easy to imagine Jeff Bridges in a movie version of the story - beleaguered and wryly puzzled by what's become of his life. I recommend this novel to anyone ready for an anti-romance about the West, which questions - often humorously and outrageously - most of what the West has stood for in the American imagination.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I picked this up at yard sale for a quarter, so my expectations were pretty low. At first, I thought it was flaky, but after I got into it, it's really quite funny with very sharp dialogue and memorable characters. An interesting view of the modern West, without sentimentality. Joe Starling is a womanizing artist, who can't keep out of trouble with women or his pants zipped so to speak. He returns home to Montana imagining getting back to his roots, but women problems and family problems derrail his plans.
If there is a flaw, it's that Joe is completely unbelievable as a painter -- it just seems like a device to work into the story. He doesn't talk or act like an artist, nor does the beauty of Big Sky country cause him to do as much as break out a pencil to sketch all through the novel. The author might just as well have made him a used car salesman.
But the dialogue is sharp and funny, and his raunchy misadventures with old girlfriend Ellen and live-in lover Astrid have a nice sexy charge to them.
A different kind of novel and one I would probably re-read just to enjoy the quality of the writing.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By rossyt@aol.com on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
"Thomas McGuane lives here" I was told last year during a Montana visit. "Who cares?" say I, never having heard of him. Oh, how I wish I had known, wish I had read this wonderful book and taken the time to visit Mr. McGuane and thank him for wonderful vacation reading a year later. Raced through this book; raced back to the bookstore for "Some Horses", embarked on "An Outside Chance" and contemplated sending Mr. McGuana a fan letter! Seldom does a book make me laugh out loud and have to put it down until I recover. This book is delightful and you wonder how anyone can possibly think up a story like this.
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