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The Sabotage Cafe Hardcover – August 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375414320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414329
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,330,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After examining the lives of children in his well-received short story collection, Short People, Furst explores the pains and perils of adolescence in this first novel, with mixed results. Rebellious Cheryl, 15, slips into her Doc Martens one day and runs away from her stifling suburban home. She ends up squatting with a group of dead-end anarchist kids in a seedy section of downtown Minneapolis: music, drugs and sex follow. Furst strives diligently to convey the angst and confusion that go along with a conscientious young person growing up in an avaricious late-stage capitalist environment (the book's pretty explicit about that). There are headlong lyrical passages, but they sometimes collapse in melodrama: It was as though, drilling toward his pain, she'd tapped her own, and now they were bleeding together. Some of the infelicities may be intentional, however, and part of the book's unconventional conceit: Cheryl's mother, who narrates, has been diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder and seems to have a clairvoyance that allows her to monitor and chronicle her daughter's exploits, which are similar to what she went through around that age. Furst eventually clarifies and reconciles these issues in the end, but the payoff isn't as powerful, or as unexpected, as it needs to be. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Twenty-five years ago, Julia's life unraveled when her beloved sister was murdered in metropolitan Minnesota. Afterward, she descended into a self-destructive world of sex, violence, and recreational drugs. Now, the suburban mother (who tries to keep things on an even keel with a menu of mood-stabilizing pills) sees history repeating itself when her sullen teenage daughter, Cheryl, runs away from home. In her mind's eye, Julia sees Cheryl keeping company with a cadre of no-good nihilists at one of her decades-old haunts, an abandoned downtown building known as the Sabotage Café. Should Julia rescue her daughter from potential danger or let the young girl's rebellion run its course? Try as he might, Julia's well-meaning but milquetoast husband, Robert, is powerless against the manic, mercurial women in his life. Furst, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, renders more of the piercing, provocative prose that earned critical acclaim for his 2003 short story collection, Short People. But he covers little new ground in this tale of two generations of middle-class lives torn apart. Block, Allison
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jodi Chromey on September 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Sabotage Cafe is a great, great book. This tale of a punkrock runaway in Minneapolis grabs your attention from the first page and never lets it go.

If you've ever been that teen (or if you are) who thought music held the answer to everything and your parents didn't know the answer to anything, you should read this book. Really.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miss Creant on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The novel presents a fascinating view of today's punk counterculture. At the same time, it's really about the relationship between a rebellious teenager and her mentally unbalanced mother. In fact, the novel is told completely from the mother's perspective, which may or may not be reliable. (I'd say the odds are on NOT.)

The mother imagines the daughter's journey away from suburbia and into a punk demi-monde -- and Furst offers a critical and sometimes comical view of both worlds. The rupture in the bond between mother and daughter is ultimately heartbreaking. I found Furst's prose fluid and engaging, but emotionally he pulls no punches -- a soft glove, but clenched in a fist. Powerful stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grant Handsall on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sabotage Cafe is, simply, excellent. I just finished it this morning, and, though I rarely feel moved to review books, it was that good: a powerful account of a mother-daughter relationship, told by the mother. One might have thought Furst had bitten off more than he could chew - by making his narrator not only female but also diagnosed with a personality disorder - but it's all pulled off quite miraculously. I don't want to give anything away, but: great milieu, great characters, and bonus points also for a beautiful cover - peel off the dustwrapper and you'll see what I mean.
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