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The Post-War Dream: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 18, 2008


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1 edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385513291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385513296
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,554,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cullins's sterile eighth novel is the bleak dirge of Korean War vet Hollis Adams as he revisits the nightmarish past he has spent his life avoiding. The novel opens at Hollis's home in a golfing community in snow-covered Arizona, where Hollis dreams of processions of cattle and nomads wearing gas masks. Despite this surreal start, the book quickly becomes mired in the mundane: Hollis's wife, Debra, is ill with ovarian cancer and asks him to tell me about us, occasioning a reluctant retrospective of Hollis's time in Korea [...] Unfortunately, the narrative spends little time exploring Hollis and Debra's lives together or the other self that haunts Hollis, instead focusing largely on Hollis's retiree routines. Flashbacks to Korea provide welcome reprieve, but the reader never connects with Hollis or Debra, so their suffering feels muted, even as the narrative dives into stark tragedy. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

A finalist for the California Book Award in fiction!

“If you haven't read any of Mitch Cullin's seven previous works of fiction, which include unnerving tales of gothic, even grotesque strangeness, you may be puzzled by this novel's almost offhanded salting of the ordinary with the inexplicable. The book begins with Hollis' eerie, sporadically recurring dream of a post-apocalyptic world. This is followed by a tally of disorienting waking visions in which he confronts his double, ‘an apparition of himself’ who over the years looks much worse for wear than Hollis does, as though his ‘disquieting doppelgänger’ reflected the true nature of his battered soul. Cullin intimates that ‘the imperturbable, calm world’ his protagonist creates and clings to is an antidote for war wounds far deeper than the snaking scar on Hollis' left leg, an injury that still pains him nearly 50 years after he was hit by a North Korean sniper.
Yet Hollis' disturbing dream and encounters with his mysterious double soon fade away as Cullin eschews the rampaging weirdness of his earlier books for a more covert approach to the dark and chaotic side of the human condition, represented in this psychologically acute novel by war and cancer....
Cullin writes with inordinate empathy about a close, insular marriage rooted in a lie and put to the ultimate test…. The story shuttles between Hollis' haunting war recollections and shockingly specific accounts of the battleground that Debra becomes as ovarian cancer wreaks havoc on her body…. Cullin's detailed descriptions are excruciating…. [His] feat in writing a cancer novel positively useful in its candor is all the more remarkable.
Cullin is equally forthright and purposeful in his rendering of the monstrousness of war. Not only the explosive violence, but also the romanticism, confusion, terror, hate, rage and lies that fuel its beastly machine of war….Hollis' scouring memories of war are dramatic and evocative, to be sure, but it's the little things, like Hollis' unearthing green plastic toy soldiers in his cactus garden, or a session with a blind Asian masseur, that give one shivers….
In this exacting, suspenseful, elegiac yet life-embracing novel, Cullin reminds us that no boundaries separate the personal and communal, the past and present, the false and true.”
Los Angeles Times

“Mitch Cullin, one of this country's most talented young writers, is back with a must-read book…. It's a shame that such popular writers as John Grisham easily make it to the top of the best-seller lists, and the Mitch Cullins of the world struggle with much less recognition. Grisham may have sizzling plots, but Cullin's wording is beautiful and inspirational. The research and care he puts into a novel should elevate him to the highest ranks of writers….Watch out for this author. Each book is worth waiting for. A reader doesn't flip through the pages; each one is worth savoring like fine wine or coffee.”
The Oklahoman

“Cullin’s brilliantly clear descriptions of both emotions and landscape give this story a near-mystical feel.”
Booklist

“Cullin followers will recognize the same sharp psychologist who meditated on deterioration in his previous novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“This touching, quintessentially American story of marriage, aging, and the fading Greatest Generation is enhanced by poetic prose, vivid accounts of war, and sympathetic characters whom many of us will find familiar.”
Library Journal

"Mitch Cullin's fine novel The Post-War Dream is as much about love as it is about coming to terms with memories.... A sensitively told, finely crafted story."
Denver Post

“Mitch Cullin is the kind of writer whom you can savor for the beauty of his prose…. As with Cullen's work in general, it is the language that makes the book worth your effort. The fact that he is able to weave such a gripping story as well is a bonus for the reader.”
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star

“Cullin has a naturally poetic style, which tends toward revelatory moments and memorable sensory descriptions…. The novel ends with a satisfying twist that ultimately renders it a tender-hearted and moving…examination of love and loss.”
The L Magazine

“After Cullin reveals the deep bond binding husband and wife, he summons a devastatingly powerful ending.”
Palm Beach Post

“Mitch Cullin is a tremendous storyteller and writer…. The story is an emotional rollercoaster, so grab your heart and a box of tissues and give it a good read. Cullin’s writing will be a gift to you.”
–ArmchairInterviews.com

Praise for A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND

“Cullin is an unusually sophisticated theorist of human nature. . . As the conclusion of this beautiful novel makes plain, lives aren't like cases or, for that matter, like narratives. They are never solved or resolved: they just one day come to an end."
–Dan Chiasson, New York Times Book Review

"This is a lovely, tenderhearted book, full of reserve, good manners, elegance of feeling. It's what a novel should be. You don't read it to be improved but for the plain joy of seeing what the language can do in the hands of an affectionate, very accomplished writer."
–Carolyn See, The Washington Post

"A multi-faceted, sympathetic portrait of a great man, the kind of memoir that any of us would be honored to have–and it doesn't matter at all that Sherlock Holmes was never a real person. The psyche and its lessons are all the same, and Cullin has captured them brilliantly."
Detroit Free Press

"Cullin's compassionate work happily reveals the detective to be a man after all. In short, while the book wears the garb of another Holmes adventure, Cullin's tale is a wise and touching examination of the human condition."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Conan Doyle used to complain, perhaps with some degree of jealousy, that most people believed Holmes was a real person and he was only the stenographer. Cullin, a gifted poet and novelist, takes that confusion and turns it into the highest level of art."
Chicago Tribune

"[A] wonderfully written and heartbreaking study of the detective at 93 as he wrestles with the gradual fading of his memory and mental powers."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Cullin ends this perfectly conceived and executed narrative with a compelling picture of the ultimate rationalist, a stranger and afraid, alone in a fragmenting world he is powerless to remake. It's a haunting variation on the image of Holmes approaching retirement that lends an autumnal glow to the later Conan Doyle stories, and it makes for an exquisite, immensely satisfying novel."
The Washington Times

More About the Author

Born in New Mexico during the "crossfire hurricane" year of 1968 , Mitch Cullin is the author of eight books of fiction, including the novel-in-verse BRANCHES, THE COSMOLOGY OF BING, UNDERSURFACE, and the globe-spanning story collection FROM THE PLACE IN THE VALLEY DEEP IN THE FOREST. To date, his books have been translated into 14 languages.

A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND, his revisionist account of an elderly Sherlock Holmes in retirement, is currently in pre-production with Focus Features. The film adaptation of his novel TIDELAND was directed and co-scripted by former Monty Pythoner Terry Gilliam, produced by Jeremy Thomas, and starred Jeff Bridges, Janet McTeer, and Jennifer Tilly. Besides slowly loosing his hair and writing novels in increasingly smaller and expensive dwellings throughout southwestern America, he continues to collaborate in all things with his long-term partner Peter I. Chang.

With Chang as director/editor, he produced I WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA, a documentary about the street musician Hisao Shinagawa that premiered at the 2006 Atlanta Underground Film Festival and went on to have multiple screenings at the 2006 Santa Fe Film Festival. In 2009, a second Chang-Cullin documentary feature, TOKYO IS DREAMING, had its premier at the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival in the U.K., and features a soundtrack by Calexico's John Convertino.

He continues to write novels in decreasing spurts and increasing sputters, but usually he can be found ambling around his garden in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on April 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book ends with "...a sudden understanding that all things born are fated to move toward their end." That describes life and this book.

I have such mixed feelings about The Post-War Dream. I was glad when I finished because much of the story was so painful to read-and at the same time wished it went on forever. Mitch Cullin is a tremendous storyteller and writer who knows how to choose the right word for the right place. For example, he describes sunrises, sunset and weather in such effective detail that the sun didn't just set¬, it did it with such flare of words.

The painful emotions came from reading about a 1950's 18-year-old guy named Hollis who feels unloved at home so runs away and joins the army. Too quickly he is fighting in the Korean War. We live the fighting, loss, inhumanities and friendships right along with Hollis.

We also learn about the then-unnamed post-traumatic stress syndrome and how it affected Hollis all his life as memories and ghosts that haunted him.

The love Hollis and Debra have for each other is so well told you know this couple and really feel their pain. In their long love story, they believe they'll be together forever, having met when Debra was in high school and Hollis was just out of the army because his severe leg wound.

Throughout the book we are moved forward to the present and then backward to Korea and Hollis' younger days. Long-married Hollis and Debra now live in an Arizona retirement community. Life is good-until Debra is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For two years she receives both traditional and experimental treatments. As Debra's illness progresses, she asks Hollis, "tell me about us"-and Hollis does, telling most but omitting some.
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