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Looking for Mo Hardcover – June 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st edition (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374190836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374190835
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,787,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After charting his travels up High Sierran peaks and through the pipelines of Santa Cruz surf culture, Daniel Duane embarks on an adventurous new course with the novel Looking for Mo. This charming update of The Dharma Bums (minus the idealism) brings together an assortment of shaggy, recognizable characters who play out a late-20th-century California pastoral involving friendship, love, betrayal, and the redemptive qualities of the great outdoors. The action moves from San Francisco to the mountains, from "cedar-paneled sushi bars" to psilocybin-fueled Dead shows--with Yosemite continually beckoning in the background. Protagonist Ray Connelly, barely self-sufficient and scrounging around the Bay Area, is on the verge of serious romance when his old doppelganger Mo pops up, a drifter-climber who happens to have an enviable knack for storytelling. Enviable to Ray, that is. Since their last adventures, Ray has been borrowing generously from his friend's oral history and shopping around a collection of stories. When Mo discovers the theft, there's trouble. What better way to hash out their differences than getting back on El Capitan, the climber's mecca that foiled them in the past?

Once on the piton-scarred face of El Cap, Ray must come to grips with himself as much as with Mo, a task as daunting as the monolithic rock itself. "This was it--the inevitable moment between us, when Mo was willing to risk everything and when a voice inside me insisted that nothing was worth death. I absolutely ached to let go, to be as confident and careless as Mo, but I couldn't. I didn't want to tempt fate that way--I wanted the risks to be no more than the ones I'd signed up for." Though some readers might be put off by the dude-itude of the characters and their exploits, fans of outdoorsy literature (not to mention observers of California Nation) will thoroughly enjoy this scenic rappel into an American subculture. --Langdon Cook

From Publishers Weekly

Duane returns to the heights of his nonfiction Lighting Out: A Vision of California and the Mountains, in a shaggy first novel that will do much to justify the ways of crunchy young Bay Area Californians to their indoorsy contemporaries back East. Amateur rock-climber Ray Connelly is hanging out in San Francisco cafes, avoiding rejection slips for his first novel, scoping fellow slacker Fiona (an artist who works in the local supermarket) and missing his adored best friend, Mo Lehrman, who, with typical knight-of-faith gusto, has set out for Baja with a surfboard strapped to his bicycle. Then, all at once, Ray gets together with Fiona, Mo comes back to San Francisco?and Mo's father (a veteran climber with California publishing connections) blasts Ray for stealing his son's stories. The upshot: Ray follows his buddy to Yosemite National Park, where he tries to win back Mo's respect and trust by scaling the dreaded rock face known as El Capitan. Although the subplots never come within shouting distance of each other, the details carry us along like so much climbing tackle: Ray's fondness for Mo overshadows his attraction to Fiona, but the friendship between the two women is romantic enough in its own right. The virtuoso rock-climbing passages never pull their thematic weight but will be dizzying to acrophobic readers; the characters don't show much imagination but do seem unmistakably true to life. If the whole doesn't quite add up to a gripping novel, it does give us an entertaining glimpse at an intelligently Epicurean way of life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Prairie on May 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A favorable review had me looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, the self absorbed narrator's fuzzy saga of a mixed-up friendship never seemed remotely real to me. Throw in plot devices to include a poorly explained antipathy from the father of the "best friend" plus an unconvincing infatuation with a new girlfriend and it all spells a novel in need of an editor or a rewrite. Luckily the late chapter climb sequence on El Cap redeems some of the early awkwardness. Still, I have to believe that Duane's next work will be more coherent and better overall.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
More than Dharma Bums revisited--kind of Queequeg & Ishmael climb El Cap as written by Kerouac. After reading Duane's book, I went back and tried to re-read Dharma Bums--couldn't do it. Eastern mystical stuff too hard to wade through. The characters here are real--I know some of them (worse, I may even be one...). And, unlike a lot of Kerouac, this is fun.
As with both of Duane's other books, this is more than a good book, it's a true book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had high hopes after reading Duane's writing about the surfing world, but was greatly disappointed by the shallowness of this novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark N on October 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed my first book of D.Duane's. It was "required" reading for our informal climbing club, although I'm not sure why. It was easy to relate to the narrator's search for fulfillment. The metaphors were entertaining and insightful and simple to digest. The narrator's struggle with relationships and where one fits in the bigger scheme of life fit well in the context of El Cap. However, I was left with a yearning of my own satisfaction or closure, perhaps a guide for my own quest for fulfillment. Regardless, I recommend this book and look forward to more from Duane.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Big D VINE VOICE on January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Some might say this is about mountain climbing. It is not. It is about friendship, strong friendship, looking for love, and young people in their early twenties coming to grips with who they are, what matters to them and the future ahead of them. In many ways, a coming of age story.

Set in the late sixties/early seventies, it provides an interesting and provocative look back at that era...could it really have been that wild and crazy, that free and easy? The book reminds the baby boom reader of an earlier life we lived/or missed. And there could be, from the reader, a hint of longing for those days---longing for the life we led or the one we didn't live, wishing we had lived it the other way.

The story is especially moving near the end, when the issues and relationships are resolved and life moves on, especially when Ray, who grows most in this story, is saying goodbye to his lifelong friend Mo. Good stuff. Good, good stuff.

There were many great lines in the book, but this one about issues that strain relationships stands out: "There was so much to say that we said nothing..."

All in all a story of young love, friendship, and the inevitable "moving on in life."

Good read, good book, somewhat dated, but still worth the read.
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