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The Master Blaster: A Novel Hardcover – March 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kluge paints an entertainingly sardonic portrait of the newest part of America, which he presents, more generally, as being emblematic of 'where America ends.'" — Library Journal



"This title is recommended for large popular collections for its interesting character development, plot twists, and 'gotcha' ending." — Booklist



"As the Master Blaster says of Saipan: 'Americans dream of islands. Islanders dream of America. This is where the dreams converge.' Delving deep into his rich setting, P.F. Kluge patiently lays out a tale of intrigue and ignorance worthy of Graham Greene." — Stewart O'Nan, author of Wish You Were Here



"When four lost souls arrive on the same night flight to Saipan, they wager who among them will last the longest. Fear, violence, sex, and money blow like trade winds across this Fantasy Island, a microscopic petri dish of greed and race sweltering in the American Pacific. Kluge is among our finest novelists, and he flexes his muscles over this postage stamp of territory. Like all the greats before him, he saves his best line for last, in this his greatest book." — Tony D'Souza, author of Mule

"The Master Blaster is one forced to struggle with the tension between his dreams of what might have been and the sordid reality of island life. Many of us, islanders and expats alike, should be able to recognize ourselves in the man . . . the drama is riveting. Why shouldn’t it be? Lots of us have lived it."
--Francis X. Hezel, author of Strangers in their Own Land and New Shape of Old Island Cultures

"That voice -- jaundiced, seasoned, amused and vibrant as it is -- gives The Master Blaster added allure. This is not a young man's book; it's the work of a writer who has seen the world, literally and figuratively, for a long time. "The Master Blaster" is tinged with thoughts of mortality, but they are offset by a bon vivant's occasional flash of gratitude and beauty."
--Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Kluge, a professor at Kenyon College, is knowing and skillful with the shifting story lines . . . The Master Blaster is an ode to our myth of the fresh start. It's also a sly history lesson about colonial powers and native misrule. It's an expose, seeded when Magellan discovered the archipelago in 1521. It's a love poem to Saipan disguising none of its warts."
--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The remote Pacific island of Saipan is the setting for this story of strangers adrift in a strange land full of twists and turns."
--Denver Post

"Kluge not only crafts a first-rate mystery, but also demystifies the ways our personal histories and ambitions seem inevitably to debunk even the noblest of our myths."
--Shelf Awareness

"[Kluge's] writing is right on the mark . . . highly imaginative." — Kirkus Reviews

"All of these characters along with the Master Blaster have their own narrative threads and Kluge's weaving is intricate and in many places brilliant. Prose and dialogue snap and crackle." — Boston Globe

"Kluge's novel follows an increasingly entangled plot as it alternates among the quartet's voices, with interruptions by diatribes from an anonymous local blogger, The Master Blaster, self-appointed guardian of the island's soul. From the often amusing clutter of all these voices, Kluge not only crafts a first-rate mystery, but also demystifies the ways our personal histories and ambitions seem inevitably to debunk even the noblest of our myths." — Shelf Awareness

"The Master Blaster is the operator of a bitterly critical blog based on a real site that calls Saipan America's biggest welfare client. The revelation of the bloggers identity is a book dropping stunner." — Akron Beacon Journal

About the Author

P.F. Kluge is Writer in Residence at Kenyon College. He is the author of Gone Tomorrow and A Call From Jersey, published by Overlook. Two films, Dog Day Afternoon and Eddie and the Cruisers, are based on his work.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; First Edition edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203224
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203224
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,698,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nona on April 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kluge's Master Blaster is a great story of complicated people in complicated places, both personally and geographically. Kluge follows a group of people arriving on a plane to Saipan, and through their adventures and misadventures we learn about them, and the island Commonwealth.

We follow a syndicated travel writer dreaming of writing less formulaic and more interesting work, and the compromises he must make to have the opportunity to tell his tale.

We follow a businessman, connected to an important Washington powerbroker, Jack Abramoff, in very thin disguise, and get to watch his efforts to build a for profit retirement home run into the roadblocks of corruption and the passive aggressive resistance of the natives.

We follow a smart and ambitious professor leaving a broken marriage and looking to improve the college which hires her. Her efforts and setbacks may be a metaphor for those who think Americans can parachute in and improve local institutions.

One of the most intriguing characters is a fixer named Big Ben, "the man you needed to know." "[A] lawyer who never appeared in court, a politician who never tried to get elected, a government big shot without an office, and, hell, they weren't even sure where he lived, which was an odd thing not to know on an island this small." According to the Master Blaster, Ben's goals are self interested and short term, but Kluge lets us imagine they may be the first but not the second.

And that is why I like this book. Everything is ambiguous, nothing is as it seems, and like life, there is no happy ending. But just like life, the journey can take us to some fascinating and enjoyable places and events, and this book is one of those excursions.

The individual stories keep moving forward, are entertaining and are easy to follow. This is a novel you won't want to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pierce scranton on April 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Master Blaster is not something you're going to want to rush through. Unlike much of today's frenetic, forced, fast-paced genre novels, Fred Kluge crafts richness of character and the soft colliding of fragile damaged personalities with unexpected outcomes. There are no building crescendos of "OMG!" moments, just subtle unexpected twists, that when caught delight and dismay: the macho Congressman who insists on returning to a battle site, only to discover the grenades he threw into a cave wiped out a group of Korean slave labourers - not Japanese soldiers. A teacher becomes the head of "University," only to discover its moving to a rusted out, decrepit shopping mall owned by the University Director. And so on. Its almost Newtonian: for every action there is an unexpected equal and opposite reaction. There are decaying empty palaces, factories, and malls, the destroyed dreams of faraway entrepreneurs who broke and crashed on the Saipan shore. So bring a sipping drink and a soft easy chair and sit back and savour The Master Blaster.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa K. Winkler on April 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"It all starts with a place. Where I've been is what 'I write about." P.F. Kluge's quote headlines his website. And place is the main character in his latest novel, The Master Blaster. I breezed through; its pacing as swift as an island storm.

Kluge divulges that he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Saipan in 1967-1969 He's returned a dozen times since then. His novel is a love song to a place loaded with history, corruption, diversity, and beauty.

One of the islands in the Marianas chain in the Western Pacific Ocean, Saipan is about 1,300 miles south of the Japanese islands. About five miles wide and 18 miles long, it's been subject to foreign invasion and the scene of major battles in both World Wars; its location ideal as a base for air and naval strikes. It became a US territory in 1975. Exempt from many US federal laws, including labor and immigration, the island's politics and development ran amok--garment factories hiring foreign laborers not subject to US safety and wage criteria. Minimum wage regulations were adapted in 2007 and immigration laws two years later.

Kluge `s novel focuses on the time before these laws, creating a picture of a "Wild West" lifestyle. The Master Blaster is a character- an anonymous writer on the island, who chronicles its corruption. His four protagonists meet upon arrival at the airport and wonder which one will be the first to leave and who will remain. There's George Griffin, a travel writer seeking adventure. There's Stephanie Warner, escaping a marriage and assuming a professorship at the island's college. There's Mel Brodie, an elderly businessman, hoping to capitalize on Saipan's vacant real estate and there's Khan, a Bangladeshi laborer, believing coming to Saipan means America.
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By George Richmond on November 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kluge might've done better to have written a straight-ahead piece of journalism about Saipan. The author was a reporter earlier in his career and clearly has an intense interest in this part of the world, but his plot acts as a handmaiden to his take on the culture and politics of this American territory. Still, it is a very interesting portrait of a very little known part of America's global reach. In an earlier novel, The Day That I Die, Kluge offers up a compelling drama set on another small south pacific island. He clearly can be a masterful novelist and one hopes he can move closer to a better balance between what he wants to say and the page-turning fiction he's capable of.
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