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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England Kindle Edition

26 customer reviews

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Length: 256 pages

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The literature of school includes such classics as Tom Brown's School Days and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. No one has ever told it so well from the student's point of view as Paul Watkins." -- Denver Post

"Strong and evocative. . . smoothly written. . . romantic."--The New York Times Book Review.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

At the age of seven, Paul Watkins was roughly transplanted from his home in Rhode Island to England's Dragon School. He was greeted by a delegation of bullies who, in time, would become his friends and whose rules would become his own. For at Dragon, and later at Eton, "there was no middle ground. You could not go here and come out not caring one way or the other. You had to stand before your God and commit."

In this enthralling and sometimes harrowing memoir, the acclaimed author of The Promise of Light gives us a masterly companion to such classics as Brideshead Revisited and A Separate Peace. Here are the masters who paddle boys for small infractions and then offer them sweets; the seniors who pamper pretty favorites and subject all others to humiliating servitude; the deep friendships and sudden, devastating betrayals. Above all, here is the exhilaration of a boy discovering own capacities for learning and creativity, in a book that conveys with astonishing insight the pangs of growing up.

Product Details

  • File Size: 369 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679759417
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 29, 2010)
  • Publication Date: September 29, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043EWVEW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,107 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Win on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book my senior year of high school when it was recommended to me by my English teacher. At the time, Watkins was the writer in residence at another boarding school in the area. I was captivated from the moment I opened the cover until I put the book down. Watkins' shameless honesty about the awkward moments of childhood makes it easy to laugh not at him, but at similar events in your own embarassing past. From his mischevious antics at the Dragon School to his studies at Eton, Watkins helps us all to remember the silly things we once did and of which we are now ridiculously ashamed. His utter familiarity with the reader allows the reader to open up and re-expose her memories to herself! While hilariously funny at times, this book also takes on the task of embracing nostalgia as memories seem to slip away. As the young Watkins ages and changes schools and confronts more "serious" issues, any reader can see how growing up happens to us. There is no avoiding it. As much as we might like to live as Peter Pan and daydream about pleasant memories, we are changed by the people we encounter and the places we go, and we just can't help it. And why should we?Watkins allows the reader to confront the bittersweet loss of childish innocence while smiling and embracing what has gone and what will come. This is not a sentimental journey, but one that is pleasantly real in a non-sappy or melodramatic way. Watkins shows the reader how to laugh at life and love all that it can throw at you.
On a side note, check out Roald Dahl's "Boy". It may be a children's book, but it is well worth the read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Paul Watkins is a terrific writer. None of his books show off his talent as this one does. It is the story of his life as an American schoolboy in England's swankiest schools. More than that it is about a boy growing up adhering to rules and recognizing that that adherence is endemic to his English life but not his American life.
Best of all about this book, though, is the writing. It is clear, melodic, rhapsodic yet forceful. It is a book to sit and savor. One can only wonder and admire the construction of sentences and thoughts. A purely enjoyable experience to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Cooke on March 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This week I read Mr. Watkin's memoir for the third time, and it was every bit as fascinating and enjoyable as the first. Watkins is the most gifted writer I have ever come across. His moving and often funny account of growing up in two elite (to say the least) English boarding schools demonstrates his talent for observation and description, as well as his ease in establishing the personality and essence of each player in his work. Regardless of Watkin's undeniable skill as a writer, this unique personal experience affords us the oppurtunity to look inside a world few of us will ever see- and it's not like what you'd expect. If you've never read Mr. Watkin's work before, this is a good place to start.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steph on May 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Every boarding school kid should read this. At my school, the entire community, faculty and students, was required to read this. And though being at the Dragon School isnt exactly a RI co-ed prep school, so many of the things ring true. Even boys riding mattresses down stairs in their dorms at night, lol. Its a superb read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Castor600@aol.com on June 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Paul Watkins came to my school for a poetry festival. I had never heard of him and I was planning a boring assembly. Instead I got the most compelling, hilarious, and intelligent discussion. The next day I went and picked up his book. It was amazing! There were so many different levels of depth and thought with a touch of comedy. He is an amazing writer and such an intelligent person. Keep writing!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Paul Watkins is my favorite writer. I have read all of his books and while some are good, others are brilliant. Stand Before Your God is in the latter category.
This memoir was one of the least pretentious and most moving of any I have ever read ("Mama's Girl" by Veronica Chambers is another). It is at times very funny (the gym-shoe scene) and very heart-rending (when his father is dying). Even though I am a 28-year-old American woman educated in a midwest public school system, I could identify with Watkins' desire to fit in and loneliness. It made me laugh and cry.
What has always amazed me and moved me about Watkins is that he uses the most simple words to convey the deepest emotions and meanings. Few writers of his generation do that. They think bigger words are better but Watkins proves that less is often more.
I had the pleasure to meet Paul at a reading for Archangel a few years ago. He was very shy and almost self-dreprecating, but very friendly. I hope that he writes for many years to come and that others will discover his writing and come to love it as much as I have.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jason Lange on May 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
No other book that I have read has dealt with the everday pressures of adolesence as clearly as Watkin's "Stand Before Your God." His memory of his time at the Dragon School and Eton College draws the reader in and never lets him go. He uses references that young people can relate to and language they can appreciate. This book makes you laugh out loud on one page and then cry on the next. It definitely stands as a premier piece of literature that shares with young people the common feelings and emotions associated with growing up and discovering a personal identity.
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