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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2004
... such is the description that appears on the cover of the UK edition of Sweet and Vicious and which I think accurately conveys the style and substance of this very entertaining novel. What cannot be so easily described is the writing, which often stopped me in my tracks as I found myself re-reading passages in admiration. The other reviews posted here should already give you a pretty good idea of the plot and main characters, so I'll let Schickler's writing speak for itself and try to point out some of the nuances that I think make this book not only a great read, but also demonstrate the author's talent and imagination. Take, for example, the following passage that describes Hilda Reisch, a sexual conquest of secondary character Roger Pobrinkis (one of the gangsters pursuing main characters Henry Dante & Grace McGlone): "Hilda was a towering, pale-skinned adjunct professor visiting from Denmark, maybe thirty-five, a woman who rarely showed smiles but always showed leg. She shod herself daily in skirts and low boots. She wore her black permed-out hair like an explosion on her head, and her eyes, also black, dismissed almost everything they saw." Or, take this description of Grace's reaction to hapless Stewart McFigg and the sincere yet inadvertently hilarious valentine that he presents to her in front of their sixth grade class: "In response, Grace delivered a stinging public rebuke of Stewart, in which she blamed him for all the freckles beginning to plague her body, claiming that the years of blushing brought on by his advances had triggered the speckling of her skin." These are but a sampling of inspired passages to be found throughout the novel, making for a unique and memorable reading experience. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2004
David Schickler achieves, in a few deft strokes, more character definition than most novelists can achieve in a dozen lumbering paragraphs. In the space of a few short pages, I lost all sense of aesthetic distance and began to care about the two main characters, Henry and Grace.

If viewed from the outside looking in, Henry and Grace would appear to be the recurring inscrutables who populate the stories recounted in our local newspapers and by our network affiliates. These are the stories that, once told, don't make a lot of sense to us and leave us wondering how anyone could do something like that.

But Schickler portrays Henry and Grace from the inside looking out. We understand each character. We quickly share the interior logic that informs their actions.

Schickler writes readable prose. But, for all its accessibility, the prose is rewarding. Schickler's style is spare, but effective. Transparently, Schickler switches from the first-person for Henry to the third-person for Grace and the other characters. By the end, a reason for this device emerges.

My only complaint, when I finished the novel, was that Schickler didn't give us another 100 pages of Henry and Grace. Maybe it would have jeopardized the balance of the story or the elegance of the style, but I'll bet Schickler could have pulled it off. All I know is that I could have found the time for another 100 pages of Henry and Grace.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2004
The story may sound like you've seen it all before - star crossed lovers on the run - but it's Schickler's incredibly imaginative voice that sets it apart from the rest. His creativity is so stunning I found myself whispering in awe, "wow," more than a few times.

It's a swift read but this is no plot-point then plot-point novel. It's the characters that are in the driver's seat here. Fresh and inspired, some shocking, some hilarious (and heartbreaking), they're not tired retreads with the old predictable tics and traits. Add to that Schickler's unique ability to seamlessly blend the fantastic with the everyday and you're holding a very special book.

With muscle, wit, and heart, Schickler takes us on a wonderful ride to a place I thought was truly beautiful. This is a tight and entertaining novel that shouldn't be missed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2004
I picked up "Sweet and Vicious" along with a pile of other books, many of which have received critical acclaim and much praise. Having slogged through several of the others and having wondered why anyone thought they were important, well-written, or even in the least bit entertaining, I finally got to this novel's place in the stack. I couldn't put it down, and I was never disappointed. When so many novelists are falling for their own hype, David Stickler manages to write about imperfect people and allows me understand and care for them.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2004
In his first book, Schickler showed that he could create memorable characters radiating equal amounts of humanity and quirkiness. In "Sweet and Vicious," the parade continues. Grace and Henry absolutely jump of the page, and even the secondary characters -- like Color or Gretl -- were clearly not just filler.

Although there is a significant amount of magical realism in the book (think Tom Robbins crossed with Garcia Marquez), the story and the characters all seems so vivid. The imagery throughout the story is spectacular, from the car wash scene to the pod people to the tree-top dwelling to the diamonds themselves. Schickler is incredibly talented at creating situations that pull you in and, unlike with many writers, I never felt disappointed that the payoff wasn't equal to the setup.

I think Schickler has really found his voice as a writer with this book, and I predict it will be a major hit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I loved David Schickler's short story *Jamaica* so much I tore it out of the "*New Yorker* and kept it, and it now resides in my copy of his excellent collection *Kissing In Manhattan* which I bought as soon as I heard it was out, and have also bought copies for friends and family.

So when I discovered DS had written a novel my hopes were up.

David Schickler is a clever writer and there is a lot to admire in this book, particularly the depiction of the two main characters. But on the other hand some of the plot elements, especially the decisions made by the characters, aren't just unlikely - they seem sort of dumb. So this was a frustrating book for me in a lot of ways.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2004
This book was just one great idea after another. The spontanaety of all the characters, and the situations that they go through are adventurous and exciting.
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Sweet and Vicious tells the story of a mob enforcer named Henry who has a weakness for beautiful women. That weakness is his downfall when it lands him on the run with a suitcase full of stolen diamonds called "The Planets". Then the book takes an entirely different turn and actually felt like a different story when the author jumps back into the past and introduces a 15 year old girl named Grace. Grace has a disturbing event happen to her which molds her world view. Now she is determined to be a good, moral person. Several years later she is working at a car wash when she spots Henry and knows instantly that he is the man for her. The two then go on an adventure dropping diamonds off to those they deem worthy as they travel.

This is a quirky read with dark edges. Initially, the quirkiness reminded me a little of Christopher Moore but as the book limped on I realized it wasn't anything near a Moore book. Midway through it lost steam and my interest waned. The humor was not there and the characters did some things that just didn't ring true to character. And the end, ugh, completely annoying to me.
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VINE VOICEon April 4, 2005
Schickler's latest novel, Sweet and Vicious, is a fast-paced, delightful read. While I thought the characters were a bit implausible, the plot worked for me. This book reads like a softer, gentler episode of "The Sopranos". I found myself caught up in the overall motion of the story and I enjoyed reading about Henry and Grace's cross-country adventure. The secondary characters were entertaining, as well.

I'm surprised to see so many negative reviews of this book. True, if you're looking for highbrow fiction, then this isn't the novel for you. However, if you're looking for a unique story that's not too terribly taxing on the brain cells, then Sweet and Vicious will deliver.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2005
I absolutely loved Kissing in Manhattan and expected the same quality writing in Sweet and Vicious. I attended a book readingby Mr. Schickler in our shared hometown. He read the book with such enthusiasm that I was hooked and bought the book. However, it was a disappointment. Where his first novel was clever and weaved the characters lives together, the plot in Sweet and Vicious appeared fairly predictable and lacking in creativity. It was a quick, pleasant read but I felt uninspired and disappointed. Mr. Schickler has great talent but unfortunately he did not reach his potential in his latest novel.
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