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One Last Good Time Paperback – December 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 12
  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Press 53 (December 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935708104
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935708100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,496,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

These 11 short stories are set in Bruce Springsteen country, thematically as well as physically. The Jersey Shore is always present in the consciousnesses of the characters and the reader. Working people inhabit the tales: the painter who forces his son to learn the preamble to the Constitution, a security guard who�s single-handedly raising his socially withdrawn son, and, most wonderful of all, the bowling-alley janitor who takes in an abandoned baby and develops special skills. Filled with both humor and awful events, the stories show a deft hand in character setup and in description of the landscape of the East Coast. Some stories are interlinked. Two have characters with versions of the same last name; two take place in a house of horrors. Ghosts abide here, as do infants who talk and the cremated remains of an old man residing in an old box. New Jersey libraries will want this collection, as will those with an audience for regional fiction. --Ellen Loughran

Review

"One of the sharpest, funniest, and most compassionate debuts you will ever have the good fortune to read. Without a doubt, Michael Kardos is a truly gifted writer and a vibrant new voice in American letters." 
-- Donald Ray Pollock, PEN Bingham Award-winning author of The Devil All the Time andKnockemstiff


"Michael Kardos's soulful stories take place in that hard-luck corner of New Jersey where rock and roll dreams crash into blue-collar reality. One Last Good Time is a remarkable debut collection, full of stories that are funny and melancholy at the same time." 
-- Tom Perrotta, best-selling author of The Leftovers


"Not only funny, but laugh-out-loud funny; not only poignant, but heart-wrenching. I've never read anything quite like it--and I will read it again and again and again." 
-- Christopher Coake, PEN Bingham Award-winning author of You Came Back and We're in Trouble


"Kardos's stories go to a place very few writers ever manage to get to: a place of true goodness. There's not a single story here that doesn't peer into its characters' lives, and into their hearts, and remind us that life is good."  
-- Michelle Herman, author of Dog and The Middle of Everything

More About the Author

Michael Kardos is the author of the novels BEFORE HE FINDS HER (2015) and the critically acclaimed THE THREE-DAY AFFAIR (an Esquire best book of the year), the story collection ONE LAST GOOD TIME (winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for fiction), and THE ART AND CRAFT OF FICTION.

His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, and many other magazines and anthologies, have won a Pushcart Prize, and were cited as Notable Stories in the 2009, 2010, and 2012 editions of Best American Short Stories.

Kardos grew up at the Jersey Shore, received a degree in music from Princeton University, and played the drums professionally for a number of years. He has an M.F.A. in fiction from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where he co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking.
Kelly E Magee
One Last Good Time (18pp): One of my favorite stories in the collection.
J. Luiz
Kardos has a deft way with humor and human description.
J. Albright

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Luiz on March 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of Michael Kardos because of a spectacular story he wrote that appeared in the Spring 2009 (No. 75) issue of Crazyhorse. In that piece, "Mediation," a woman becomes concerned that her husband, after joining Alcoholics Anonymous, has become puritanically self-righteous. In the end, she accepts that in order to keep him, she's going to have to become as rigid as he is. That piece is not in the collection ONE LAST GOOD TIME, but the collection displays all the same talent and ability to explore fascinating, complex relationships. Kardos' writing style never gets in the way of the story -- his writing is clear and confident and he quickly gets you to sympathize with the central character in each piece.

All of the pieces occur in the fictional Jersey shore town of Breakneck Beach New Jersey, examining the failures and missteps of primarily lower middle-class boys, young men, and, in one story, a college aged woman. The 10 stories in the collection are:

1. Lures of Last Resort (13 pp): Explores a 10-year-old boy's relationship with his imposing father, who comes in and out of his life. In the present moment of the story, the boy experiences how gruff and intimidating his dad can be when they're fishing off a pier and are approached by the salesmen for the fishing lure company that his dad was fired from for throwing his boss's desk out the window.

2. Mr. Barrotta's Ashes Have the Personality of a Grumpy Old Man (20pp): One of the two stories in the collection with fantastical elements. The young boy in the first story, Gunnipuddy, is now grown up and working as a bowling alley attendant. He becomes the caretaker of his dead music teacher's ashes and the guardian of an abandoned baby.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly E Magee on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking. Each story is a little gem, and the world Kardos creates within is intoxicating: everyday landscapes shot through with a touch of magic and mystery. His characters are often so funny I laughed out loud, but Kardos isn't satisfied with simply making his readers laugh. There's a weight to each of these stories, a serious attention to the human heart that really makes this collection stand out as one of the best. These are the kind of stories you will want to read out loud to your friends, to experience over and over again.
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Format: Paperback
Kardos has a deft way with humor and human description. He plays with both absurdist and realist fiction, sometimes all in one piece. The stories are uniquely drawn and seem so casually perfect that it's hard to imagine all the work that went into the writing because it's so effortless to read and enjoy. Don't miss this one.
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Format: Paperback
I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised. I am new to reading short stories and at first I found most of the stories too abrupt but Michael Kardos has a way of painting a picture that left me rereading some of the stories. It really made me begin to paint a mental picture of Breakneck Beach, New Jersey, the setting for all the stories. I liked that some of the characters who were minor in stories later had their own story or vice versa. "One Last Good Time" like a previous reviewer stated was also my favorite story, but others like "What's Left of Musical Giants," and "Two Truths and a Lie" were great as well. Some of the shorter stories such as "Population 204" and "We the People" were feel good stories that left me wanting more, but the lead character a male or female, old or young, Kardos has a great way of weaving a tale, putting you in the story, and leaving you wanting that short story to be a whole book. Great job, beautiful stories, look forward to another collection. Thanks for the autographed copy as well.
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Format: Paperback
Having read a few of Michael Kardos' stories before to great enjoyment, I looked forward to reading his debut collection, One Last Good Time. In short, it's a wonderful book and exceeded my already high expectations.

The stories, many of which were originally published in top-notch journals like Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse and the Southern Review, focus on the working-class lives of characters from the fictional locale of Breakneck Beach, New Jersey. Characters often reappear in several stories; central figures in one may show up as supporting characters in others, or even in cameo roles.

Themes emerge: family members dealing with broken homes, boys dealing with overbearing fathers or young men trying to overcome the challenges that come with making it on their own. And music. Kardos depicts the lives of custodial and theme-park workers with rock-star dreams, and those of once-respected musicians who now teach piano in homes or sell organs at the shopping mall to people with tin ears and zero ability. In "One Last Good Time" a school bus driver has an affair with his pregnant wife's sister right under the family roof, and desperate circumstances lead him to hijack his own bus--full of kids--without any plan in mind. In "Maximum Security," a high school freshman undergoing a sexual identity crisis goes to his first party, gets lit, and awaits the wrath of his prison-guard father. In "Two Truths and a Lie," a young woman on the verge of graduating college envisions her precarious future now that her father has gambled away the family home and savings, not to mention the well being of his arms and legs. These are a few of many favorites in the collection.

What I like most about One Last Good Time is how easy it is to relate and identify with the stories' characters.
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