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The Boston 395 [Kindle Edition]

Jason Derr
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

James Scottsdale did all the right things: he went to school and studied the right things, he had all the right friends, the love of a good woman and the support of his family. And then the economic crisis began and his secure life slipped and fractured.
Now, age 25, he lives on his mother’s couch, with no direction and his companions have evaporated with his money. All of that changes when The Boston 395 appears in his living room. The Boston 395 is like no train you have ever seen. Each stop exits into James’ life, revealing truths he would rather not deal with. Guided by The Conductor and populated by elements of his shattered persona, The Boston 395 will take James to places he never expected.

THE BOSTON 395 is a novella, sitting in the literary arena of magical realism/fantasy. The book follows its own rules and weaves an interesting world for the reader to get lost in, and to wrestle with.

Product Details

  • File Size: 359 KB
  • Print Length: 103 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006OFRY0O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,221 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real characters, real problems - a real good read December 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Don't read this book if you're not ready to give it your full attention. This isn't a thriller you can read a few pages of, set down and return to the next time you're craving some adrenaline.

In The Boston 395, Jason Derr places in front of us a real human being: someone who has the kind of thoughts that we all entertain in our darkest moments but would never admit to, the kind of thoughts that your average protagonist (authors would have us believe) never have. James' (the protagonist's) interactions with his parents, his siblings, his wife are so poignant, filled with all the love and anger and awkward helplessness of real relationships.

As James re-experiences pivotal life moments, the segues from the strange train to the various "stops" are so smooth that we are left confused for a moment as to what is going on - just as James, of course, is confused. I really liked this device.

I had to read it once, quickly. Derr really makes us care about James and his problems, and I wanted to see whether he could overcome them. But I feel like I need to read it a second time, slower, to understand and appreciate all the symbolism I felt lurking under the surface and to understand the inner logic that powers the Boston 395 in its journey through time and space.

Anyone who has struggled to meet the expectations of family and society; anyone who has pursued the societal idols of job, marriage, degree, family and found them not as advertised; in short, anyone who has really lived will find this a painful and joyfully real story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riding the Rails of The Boston 395 April 4, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"My spine is a track with cold black steel racing on it, a trail of steam and dust following behind, ghost-like. It feels like my whole life is holding its breath." --The Boston 395 (loc. 23)

As I rode the rails of The Boston 395 by Jason Derr, I felt the angst, the pain, and the confusion of its central character, James. The train in this short novel is simultaneously setting and metaphor for James' emotional and spiritual journey. Derr's theological training is evident but subtle.

Derr's style offers depth and complexity that makes this a challenging read without giving it full focus. Far from the lightweight read of a mass market movie or TV-inspired science fiction, this novel deserves multiple reads.

His life is in a shambles, James has returned home to his mother's living room. A heavy sense of failure is exacerbated by his empathy for the change his presence forces on her lifestyle. In an American economy with a lack of jobs that adequately support the payments on student loans, many will identify with James. He has followed all the rules for success. He's gone to college and was engaged to marry, only to now find himself sleeping on his mother's couch.

James' journey on a train that inexplicably shows up in his mother's living room takes him to various moments in his life. These moments are stops on his trip. Derr's transition between James' internal angst (and processing) represented by the train and the real life events is extremely subtle. The temporary reader confusion created by the author with this technique, powerfully ushers the reader into James' own confusion about his life.

One of the most poignant stops on James' train trip is the death of his father.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Boston 395 January 29, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Jason Derr's novella, The Boston 395, started off as a very captivating read with sharp wit and vivid details that really piqued my interest. I'll try to leave out all locomotive puns since the book is about a train, but by the end it had lost a lot of steam for me.

As stated in the blurb, James is down on his luck with no job and no love interest, and moving back in with his mother until things get better. All of a sudden, a train shows up in his mother's living room, picking him up and transporting him back in time where he has to revisit different events that have taken place in his life - mainly the events responsible for how he got into his current situation.

While on the train, James encounters other passengers going through their own "trip" on the train, along with a peculiar train conductor. Curiosity abounds as James and the fellow passengers explore the train and try to learn its real purpose and meaning. Unfortunately, too much time is spent trying to answer these questions and very little detail is revealed to James or to the reader by the end.

I also felt the events from James's past just weren't as awe-inspiring as I wanted them to be outside of the death of his father, but even it was an event he had missed when he left his father's bed side to take a shower. One would hope a book being described as "magical realism/fantasy" would have more elements to develop it outside the sole plot line of a train pulling up in someone's living room. While yes, that's a major part of the story, it's not enough to make up for where the rest of the story suffers.

One of the best attributes to the train is that it has a unique library of book that were never written like a part 2 to Treasure Island.
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More About the Author

I like to make things up, sometimes big things, sometimes small things. Always fun things and always stories. On rainy days I like to drink coffee, listen to jazz and imagine wonderful, dark and beautiful things. I like short stories and long stories. I like fantasy and science-fiction but not in the way you might think. I like horror stories, but not monsters and ghosts and people meeting grisly ends. I like the horror of the every day, the tragic that happens in an average day and the wonderful fantastic people who bravely confront that horror and make the world a better place. I think firemen and soldiers are heroes but I also think fathers, clergymen and women, mothers, grandmothers, peace makers and social workers are heroes. I studied Creative Writing at Eastern Washington University and I am happy for every moment of it.


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