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Ninety-two in the Shade Paperback – May 30, 1995

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Editorial Reviews


"Full of surprises and rewards and an exhilaration one feels only rarely.... I offer a gentle exhortation -- please read this book." -- Newsday

Tiring of the company of junkies and burn-outs, Thomas Skelton goes home to Key West to take up a more wholesome life. But things fester in America's utter South. And Skelton's plans to become a skiff guide in the shining blue subtropical waters place him on a collision course with Nichol Dance, who has risen to the crest of the profession by dint of infallible instincts and a reputation for homicide. Out of their deadly rivalry, Thomas McGuane has constructed a novel with the impetus of a thriller and the heartbroken humor that is his distinct contribution to American prose.

"Thomas McGuane makes the page, the paragraph, the sentence itself a record of continuous imaginative activity.... He is an important as well as a brilliant novelist."

-- The New York Times Book Review

"McGuane's sense of place, his harsh and delicate exactness of detail are at their keenest."

-- Newsweek

"Few writers have explored our national malaise as persistently -- or as elegantly -- as Thomas McGuane, a writer whose command of the language has helped define our American loneliness." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

About the Author

Thomas McGuane lives in Sweet Grass County, Montana. He is the author of eight previous novels and a collection of stories, as well as two collections of essays.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752899
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
When I'm reading a McGuane novel, I have to remind myself that we are dealing here with a writer on another plane altogether. Someone so immersed in his art that to expect 'normalcy' in terms of language, plot, characterization -- the things we've become comfortable reading and reacting to -- is like expecting Picasso to do paint-by-number. It's just not how McGuane operates. And it works for me just fine. Take, for example, 92 in the Shade: A journey of personal discovery framed within a classic Hollywood-Western plot that just so happens to take place in a small community of Key West fishermen. It is the tragic story of Thomas Skelton, a biologist-turned-fishing guide who finds himself increasingly unable to cope with the deliquescence of his version of America: A landscape, Skelton laments that is gradually becoming nothing more than "Hotcakesland" -- a vague but effective reference to Big Business, greed, and mass-marketeering at the expense of the individual. (In his case, literally.) The story is populated by a wealth of eccentric characters who represent a cross-section of Americana. McGuane throws in just about every Type in the encyclopedia of the American Myth--cowboys and outlaws, sex-starved cheerleaders and cut-throat entrepreneurs to name but a few. This may sound hokey, but as depicted by McGuane the eccentrics are smoothly knit into the narrative, lending it a heightened sense of farce while, as with all stereotypes, maintaining a tiny kernel of truth. Written in McGuane's unique virtuoso style where technique and voice are numero uno, the plot of "92" fits - surprise! -- into well-defined story arcs.Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John Stodder on May 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a lot of fun--observant, dramatic, very funny at times. It is a meditation on competition, capitalism even, where an upstart with his own peculiar reasons for wanting to enter the fishing-guide trade confronts an established competitor who simply won't tolerate anyone horning in on his trade. Their is mutual admiration-and mutual homicidal thoughts. An elegant dance ensues and escalates into real menace. McGuane writes often about outdoorsy sports like fishing, and his prose on these elements of the story is quite rich.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Marr on February 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this novel portrays exotic behavior and Key West fish guiding (talk about redundancy), murder, crime, it is not really a comic novel, a crime novel or even that elusive genre - the "Keys Novel." Maybe it can be classified as an "Old Hippie" novel; certainly there is a touch of that, but there is also a touch of the "Old Florida" novel with eccentric, elderly relatives with cash and the political fix. The tale progresses in a halucinatory mix of events. Simply stated young conch wants to get into the guide business, faces dual problems of not enough room for more guides and cost of boat, from which conflict flows. There are some nice scenes of excess in passion and alcohol. There is also the desperate, ends of the earth, behavior of island inhabitants: in this case people do what they say they will do, which can be a very bad thing. What plot there is can best be described as ecclectic. Read it and remember the eighties.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Not only does 92 in the Shade sum up an entire generation, but it gives serious fiction readers the opportunity to read the language of a genius. Tom McGuane once told me in an interview that he made more money investing in real estate than in his career as a novelist. That sad statement amplified itself several years later when I was seeking a literary agent for my own pursuits. The first one I approached told me she had never heard of Tom McGuane after I explained that he was one of the few American novelists I really admired.(I didn't hire her.) 92 does an excellent job of illustrating the troubled fishing guide's state of mind, the lifestyle of the denizens of Key West, and the pathetic state of the country at the time. His brilliant prose provided me with an engrossingly twisted story. The style is distinctively McGuane who is a master of language and tough guy dialogue. He lives in a world all of his own. Many people don't understand his cynicism and negative take on every day happenings. All of which makes his work better that most others. I reread at least part of 92 each time I go to Key West, still, despite its commercialization, one of the greatest zany hang-outs in the history of the world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Booth on August 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've been reading Tom McGuane's books over and over since first reading, The Longest Silence. I've been hooked ever since. For me, understanding Tom McGuane, the author, took place when I began to understand him through the element he most often places himself and his work into: the environment of a fly rod.

His books are as varied as the waters a fly-fisherman plys in search of his piscatorial treasure. The nuances of texture, the variables of nature, the agony of whim ... all of these are met in each watery course and are likewise found in each page of McGuane's writing.

Ninety-two In the Shade is a story based in one of the most surreal areas left in our country. A society awash in what seems hell-bent on becoming as amorphous as the aisles in a Wal-Mart Super Center.

Sure it's dated ... and why not ... so much the more for us to see clearly what we have lost in our own uniqueness. And how, in our rush to become all-accepting, we are loosing what made us so American.

So, instead of looking at McGuane's work as some sort of 'stuck in a time warp literary irrelevance' ... why not look at it as a warning mirror - showing us the fading last glimpses of what we have lost... and are about to loose forever.

"Thomas Skelton, whose aim had been to be a practicing Christian, was now a little gone in the faith. But, he thought, no matter; and took some comfort to remember the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Upon occasion, a man had to manufacture his on hell-fire, either for himself or others: as one kind of home brew for the spirit's extremer voyages." Ninety-two In The Shade, Thomas McGuane, 1973; p56.

Yes, Tom .. thank you for showing us the need for clear vision - both backward and forward. Maybe we'll miss burning in someone else's own self-manufactured hell-fire. Maybe ....
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