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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Stories about an Island Paradise, April 1, 2012
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars cerebral melancoly, April 22, 2012
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This review is from: The Master Blaster: A Novel (Hardcover)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Saipan Serenade, April 16, 2012
This review is from: The Master Blaster: A Novel (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. There lives connect, always against the backdrop of Saipan's geography- beaches and cliffs, hotels and nightclubs, swindlers and prostitutes, tourists and natives.

This is the first book I've read by Kluge; I'm eager to read others.
[...], author: On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy's Ride Across America
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hell is People, October 30, 2014
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Having been on island I can relate to the goings on in Saipan. Many of the situations Kluge outlines are only too true. There is always a hustle going on, money is being paid for favours (which are rarely returned).
What seems like a paradise on first sampling, never is. Hell is people.
The characters in the Master Blaster cover the gamut of people one sees on the island. Interesting that the "alien worker" is the one still standing.They don't have too many options.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel about Saipan., June 19, 2014
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Mikel Schwab (Agana, Guam USA) - See all my reviews
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This book gives you a good taste of the flavor of life on the island of Saipan, -the newest entrant to the American family (the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) . Some of the characters are painfully real and their situations are close to things that really did happen (and are happening). Americans should learn more about life at the outer edges of the US reach. There are lessons here that can be applied throughout the land. Saipan is a place where race, culture, history and dreams all blend into a drama that is all the more interesting because of the tropical island backdrop. This is useful fiction and a pleasure to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Book About an Amazing Island - Saipan, January 3, 2014
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I lived on Saipan for most of my adult life; over 25 years. This book does a great job of capturing the flavor of the place; the locales, the personalities, the attitudes, the reality of living on an island that never ever feels very real. I congratulate Kluge on his ability to fit all this into a fast paced novel with an engaging and amusing plot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book about Saipan, November 11, 2013
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Lots of information about the culture of Saipan. Very entertaining characters. Not as good as Biggest Elvis but worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A walk down memory lane..., June 11, 2013
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Amazon Customer (Lacey, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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I lived on Saipan 1990 to 1992 and this book was a bit of nostalgia for me. It takes place after I left and many things have changed. There were no fast food places except a KFC that served red rice instead of mashed potatoes and gravy and there were no stop lights or big box stores when I lived there. It was fun to imagine being there as places: Capitol Hill, Suicide Cliff, Hamilton's, the farmer's market, Lau Lau beach, are mentioned. I haven't finished the book yet so I'm still hoping that a few other places will be mentioned: the hospital (I worked there), Navy Hill (I lived there), Pau Pau Beach (I snorkled there). I can definitely relate to the feelings of the characters in the book. I had the same love it/hate it relationship with the island. But mostly loved it, missed it when I went off island, and was so happy when I landed at the airport and saw the beautiful sunset upon arrival. The sunsets and rainbows that I watched from my balcony on Navy Hill were the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Enough nostalgia. The book is well written and I'm very much enjoying the characters as they go about their lives. I just wish the book was longer or maybe that there will be a sequel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I was especially interested in this one...I lived on Saipan for 11 years and though ficitional, many of the Characters are real., May 18, 2013
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P.F. Kuge does an excellent job of prortraying the look and feel of Saipan. It is a place like fo other. I was a resident there from 1988 to 2000 and can state, with some experience, that the characters, and the situations they find themselves in are totally typical and believable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars P.F. Kluge Has Another Winner!, March 18, 2013
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I like anything written by P.F. Kluge and this book is no exception. The price for his latest work was exceptional from Amazon. Thank you for carrying his books.
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The Master Blaster: A Novel
The Master Blaster: A Novel by P. F. Kluge (Hardcover - March 29, 2012)
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