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The Floodmakers Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 30, 2004

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 30, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Midway through Dressler's third novel (after The Medusa Tree and The Deadwood Beetle), narrator Harry Buelle, the frustrated gay son of Dee Buelle, a famous Southern playwright, recalls his own first production, a one-act play in graduate school: the actors rely on improvisation and "a current should be palpable between them," but is not. His father derides Harry's efforts as "a waste." This flashback is a snapshot of the Buelle family dynamicsâ€"and unfortunately, it also mirrors the lack of current between the novel's key players. Harry is summoned from his home in Houston by his stepmother, Jean, to make an appearance at his father's home on the Gulf Coast, where Dee is old and ailing. Harry's younger sister, Sarah (an epileptic filmmaker), is also arriving with her husband to finish her documentary on her illustrious father. The usual tensions arise: Dee expounds upon the "life of the artist" and criticizes his children; warm and competent Jean, a former golf champion, tends uncomplainingly to his needs; and both siblings harbor long-simmering resentments. Deep family secrets are revealed (often in flashback, diluting much of their effect), and sister Sarah has one big revenge fantasy to play outâ€"but somehow, this tightly wound group never quite comes to life. The narrative moves slowly, despite the brief chapters, and the spare style makes the blowups and revelations, when they come, seem implausible. Harry is a tortured soul trying to grapple with an odd family legacy, but Dressler's fans will find little here to grapple with themselves.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Dressler, author of The Deadwood Beetle (2001), has a penchant for imagining unusual family configurations and drastic family secrets, and in this mischievous tale of a family weekend from hell, she achieves a delicious level of drollery. Harry, the gay son of a famous southern playwright named Dee Buelle, is summoned to their shabby Gulf Coast home by his jaunty stepmother, Jeanie, formerly a professional golfer, who tells him that his father has stopped taking his heart medications. Harry's sister, Sarah, who suffers from epilepsy, and her annoying husband, Paul, also arrive, but they're on a mission: Sarah's making a documentary about their father. Dee and Jeanie, narcissistic and entwined, perform their shtick and their overly sensitive kids cringe while myriad resentments and rivalries surface, and thorny questions of love and ambition, family and inheritance, and life and death arise. Echoing Truman Capote in her gin-and-tonic humor and quirky charm, Dressler crafts hilariously poisonous dialogue and offers startling disclosures in a devilish little tale that could be titled, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • ISBN-10: 039915163X
  • ASIN: B000C4SNXA
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,638,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mylene Dressler is the critically acclaimed author of novels, novellas, and essays. She is a professor of writing and literature at Guilford College.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mylène Dressler's third novel (after THE MEDUSA TREE and THE DEADWOOD BEETLE) is a departure book. Unlike her first two, THE FLOODMAKERS is less concerned with the lyricism of introspection than with the dynamics of character and dialogue, and how they reveal the innermost workings of a family. Narrator Harry Buelle, a gay playwright who seems destined to live in the shadow of his famous playwright father, arrives at the family's Texas beach house at the request of his stepmother, Jean. His father Dee is suffering from heart failure, and has decided to halt all medication in a calculated move to clear his mind and face his imminent death. Rebellious sister Sarah and her wide-eyed Slavic husband Paul are also invited. There, hovering around a rescued brown booby with a broken foot and colliding with one another, the Buelle family and their darkest, most defining moments are revealed.
After a somewhat confusing start, this novel gets stronger with every page. The narrative, which is meant to have the feel of a play, reads like a cross between Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon, with melodrama and comedy mixed with a deeper sense of loss. Certain moments happen "off-stage" (as when Jean disappears into the bathroom and the reader "hears" an unexplained ruckus within) while others seem carefully orchestrated to show the awkward relationships this family fosters. Even the dialogue comes across as written for the stage. While the author's adherence to the idea of novel as play occasionally can be distancing, Dressler brings the reader closer through the use of Harry's first-person narration and flashbacks. The true nature of this creative, dysfunctional family is exposed through their interactions, and that, more than anything, is the strength of this novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Summoned back to the beach house on the Texas Gulf Coast where his family lived and vacationed many years ago, Harry Buelle, a struggling, experimental playwright, is forced to confront his parents' aging, their declining health, and the barely hidden resentments he and his sister have borne against their demanding father for most of their lives. Dee Buelle, the father, a highly successful playwright with an unbroken string of hits, was both physically and emotionally absent when the children were small, and is now a querulous and impatient man with major health problems, for which he is refusing his medication. Sarah Buelle, Harry's sister, is a cinematographer filming an interview with her father, its purpose and agenda unclear at the start of the reunion.
In the tradition of the theater which dominates the lives of father and son, the author reveals most of the information about family dynamics through dialogue. Instead of setting and describing scenes, Dressler brings the characters together and then lets them goad each other and bicker, creating clear, sharp moments of high tension as the children confront their parents and the reality of their family life. Each person's reminiscences develop the family's collective history for the reader and reveal relationships, past and present. The children's love and admiration for Jean, their stepmother, sets their problems with their father into sharp relief, while some ironically humorous scenes allow the author to control the pace and mood. Despite the burdens placed upon it, the dialogue moves along smartly and sets a natural, conversational tone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Octogenarian wealthy playwright Dee Buelle intimately has known death for seemingly ever. His parents died when he was a young boy and as if fate needed to punish him more his first wife passed away just after giving birth to their second child back in 1966. He met his second wife golf professional Jean who played with the real Babe (Zaharis) at an event. She helped raise his two children Harry and Sarah who call her mama.
Harry lives in New York trying to be a chip off the old block while Sarah with the help of her filmmaking husband wants to produce a documentary movie about her father. When Dee stops taking his heart medicine, Jean worries that he wants to die. Jean asks his two adult children to come to Texas for a family reunion, hoping that the two kids can motivate their dad into going back on his medicine. However, the children have agendas of their own leaving Jean to play unsuccessful peacemaker that is until a new revelation surfaces that leaves her jumping into the fracas with fists flying.
Although over the top with too many surprise shocking disclosures making it difficult for the reader to contend with, THE FLOODMAKERS remains an insightful family soap opera. Readers will appreciate the relational dynamics that dissolve into dysfunctional disarray as melodramatic moments continually surface. Fans of family crisis dramas will enjoy this saga of a unit seemingly one iota from disintegration.
Harriet Klausner
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Floodmakers is essentially a one-act play, dramatized on the stage of a cramped, damp and gritty beach house. The scene is intense and claustrophobic. Movements are repressed and there's a whole ocean of other meanng underneath the dialogue. It's like a Mike Leigh film. Dressler has brought together her characters and lets them loose to improvise their own lines. It's fascinating and often surprising to "watch."
This slice of life novel allows us a peak into the lives of these complex characters, giving us just enough history to create our own stories for them before and after this scene.
A deceptively simple novel which packs a whallop!
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