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Soft Water Paperback – March 12, 1988

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Fortune Smiles
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the short-story collection River Dogs revisits rural New England in this incessantly tense first novel. After he is orphaned, Asel is raised by a brutal German immigrant on a work farm for foster children, and then runs away to join his older brother Averell as a hunting guide in the Maine backwoods. Illiterate and ignorant of the world, Asel becomes a recluse after Averell's disappearance. But, lured by photographs of nudes in girlie magazines, he rejoins civilization to find a woman for himself. Asel eventually falls in love with Phoebe, who invites him to live with her in New Hampshire. He goes, but only after (unbeknownst to Phoebe) avenging the death of his friend Beecher at the hands of two hunters who had left a mysterious cache of weapons for safekeeping with Averell. Some details of plot and characterization are too vague, and the story's abrupt, violent climaxwith retribution coming at the hands of the Irish Republican Armyis strained and unrealistic within the context of Olmstead's insular small-town world. Nevertheless, this is an engrossing, fine piece of writing, with quirky, distinct characters and authentic dialogue.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Olmstead's first novel combines romance, murder, and revenge in a dark and violent view of New England's rural life. The uneducated and alienated protagonist and hunter's guide Asel flees from murder in the woods to the city and Phoebe, the young school teacher he learns to love. During his odyssey he encounters sinister and criminal characters. The tangled themes of blood revenge and retribution present a stronger, more compelling story than does the romanticized, somewhat improbable love story. A good addition to serious fiction collections. Elizabeth Guiney Sandvick, North Hennepin Community Coll., Minneapolis
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (March 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394757521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394757520
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,693,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Olmstead is a master of the language, technical and common. The book itself may be one of the most mythic stories ever told, yet Olmstead never tries to make the story or its residents "large." He is content to place his characters in your path and smile when you are bowled over by the love that resonates in their lives.
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