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The Samaritan Hardcover – February 15, 2011

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Reading this was like finding an autobiography I forgot I d written. Like Venturini had access to all my secret thoughts. It was strange and wonderful, and I d pay to do it again. --Stephen Graham Jones, author of It Came from Del Rio

Fred Venturini is an awesomely talented writer, and he proves it on every page of The Samaritan. Stretching artfully from the shabbiness of life in a small Illinois town to the glitter and greed of Hollywood, this first novel about a shy, emotionally damaged loser with a bizarre but coveted ability to regenerate his vital parts is one of the most engaging and ultimately satisfying that I've had the pleasure to read in a long time. --Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff

A can t-get-laid coming-of-age tale takes a sharp turn into sci-fi territory when the main character, Dale Sampson, discovers he has the ability to regenerate his own organs and body parts. What ensues is much chopping off of fingers and toes, an obsessive romantic attachment to his dead girlfriend s twin sister, a mercenary relationship with a twisted doctor, and, ultimately, an Extreme Makeover-style reality television show in which Sampson donates organs to people in need. Author Fred Venturini keeps his focus on character development, so that Sampson seems real and probable. The Samaritan, the first book from Blank Slate Press, gives those of us who love well-crafted offbeat literature a reason to cheer. --Margareg Brown, Shelf Unbound

From the Back Cover

Dale Sampson is a nobody.  A small town geek with an ailing mother and a father who skipped town, Dale lives in the shadow of his best friend Mack, the high school baseball star.  While Mack racks up one female conquest after another, Dale can't even gather the courage to talk to a girl . . . and when he finally decides to take a chance, he loses everything. 

When he runs into the twin sister of the girl he loved and lost, Dale finds his calling--he will become a Samaritan.  Determined to rescue her from a violent marriage and redeem himself in the process, he decides to use the only weapon he has, besides a toaster.  This weapon, the inexplicable ability to regrow his limbs and organs, leads him to fame and fortune as the star of a blockbuster TV reality show.  But he will soon learn that being a Samaritan can be a heartbreaking affair, especially when the one person he wants to save doesn't want saving. 

The Samaritan is a brutally funny look at the dark side of human nature, laying bare the raw emotions and disappointments of small town life and best friends, of school bullies and first loves, of ruthless profiteers and self-aggrandizing promoters--and of having everything you know about human worth and frailty questioned under the harsh klieg lights of fame. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Blank Slate Press; 1st edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982880618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982880616
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,418,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Fred Venturini grew up in Patoka, Illinois. His short fiction has been published in the Booked Anthology, Noir at the Bar 2, and Surreal South '13. In 2014, his story "Gasoline" will be featured in Chuck Palahniuk's Burnt Tongues collection. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Covington on February 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The Samaritan is the story of Dale Sampson, an awkward, lonely, and loveless young man dealing with a life of tragedy while coming to terms with an unexplained power he discovers within himself. One part coming of age tale, one part twisted super hero-esque revenge drama, two parts Catcher in the Rye, The Samaritan does what too few novels these days are able - combine character and story into a thought provoking and highly entertaining read. Venturini has created a world that envelops, suspends disbelief, and most importantly rivets an emotional connection between character and reader. It's a gripping read.

The writing itself is great - concise and compact where it needs to be while still vividly descriptive when necessary. The voice of the main character is unique and heartbreaking, almost scary, and best of all, real. Oh so real.

Do yourself a favor and read this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What starts out as a young boy's coming of age story quickly turns bizarre in The Samaritan, a new release from Blank Slate Press.

Dale Sampson's best friend, Mac, gets all the girls, and Dale gets all the ridicule. But when suddenly he discovers his limbs regenerate after injury--like a salamander's--Dale's story jumps track and heads in directions that make The Samaritan hard to put down. And as improbable as the plot sounds, author Fred Venturini manages to somehow make it seem believable.

The legendary Samson of Biblical lore has inspired movies and books, yet I couldn't help but compare the guy who "slayed an army with the jawbone of an ass" to the fictional Dale Sampson (with a P) who slays his villain with a toaster. Both have extraordinary strength (as Venturini shows us repeatedly, first when Dale whacks baseballs out of the park and later when he knocks a tormenter out cold with one punch). Both men suffer personal tragedy. And both have a weakness for women--which doesn't end up well for either one of them.

Even as other characters throughout the story suggest Dale is just not likeable--or at least not memorable--I found him consistently one of the most sympathetic characters I've met between the pages of a book. I will admit that I wondered at first why young Sampson does not consider his special ability a gift, why he in fact often contemplates suicide. Who wouldn't want to know they could never become dismembered or permanently scarred or physically disabled?

With prose that reads like poetic expression, the young philospher explains:

"Aging is to embrace a slow hurt inside and out, to collect scars like rings on a tree, dark and weathered and sometimes only visible if someone cuts deep enough.
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Format: Kindle Edition
he Samaritan, by Fred Venturini, is a new publication from Blank Slate Press, a young publisher from the American Midwest. The book tells the story of Dale Sampson and his best friend, Mack. Dale is an extremely ordinary boy from a small Illinois town. He's smart but sad, badly-socialized and a little pathetic. When Mack, the cool baseball-playing hotshot, takes Dale under his wing, it changes his life. He's still a smart, badly-socialized, pathetic loser, but he's no longer sad - Dale has a friend, and that changes his outlook on everything.

This Disney delight comes to an abrupt end in high school.

While Mack is gleefully leaping on every girl in school, Dale's attention is focused on just one: Regina. It isn't love, it is that gut-wrenching, harmless-yet-terrifying obsession of which only adolescents are truly capable of achieving. Mr. Venturini shows the reader many horrors during the course of The Samaritan, but none of them might be as painful as Dale's unreciprocated crush on Regina.

Dale does get some attention in return - mostly from Regina's boyfriend, Clint. The thuggish bully puts Dale in the hospital. While there, Dale discovers something new - he heals. And by that, I mean heals.

Dale's amazing recuperative power is the science-fictional twist of The Samaritan. It seems that, no matter what you do to him, he comes back. Cut off toes - they regrow. Remove kidneys - they come back. Eyes, legs, skin, lungs... it doesn't matter. Dale's a human salamander with an infinite capacity to absorb punishment.

A chance encounter (at the Wal-Mart, no less) with another lost soul from his high school galvanizes Dale.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The novel starts off with a junior high aged Dale playing a game of "Blind Man" with the popular girls. The girls blindfold him and walk him into things on the playground. Dale goes along with this deception simply because he can't believe he's actually captured their attention when he's usually invisible to everyone. When they decide to run him into the most popular boy in their grade, just to capture the baseball star's attention, their trick backfires when Mack takes Dale under his wing and dismisses the girls.

Both products of one parent families, Dale and Mack find they can lean on each other when times get tough. They are best friends from that first incident on the playground throughout the rest of their lives. Just when Dale finally gets up enough nerve to talk to a girl, who just might like him back no less, tragedy strikes in one of the most devestating ways possible. And not long after, Dale's life takes another turn for the worse, leaving him alone and forgotten with a special gift that only he and his mother know about: he can regrow his limbs.

But his best friend hasn't forgotten him, even though they've been separated for a few years after high school while Dale wallows in self pity and isolation and Mack works with his father. As he lives a lonely existence and hits his lowest, Dale encounters his potential old flame's twin sister. Upon discovering the spousal abuse she endures, Dale decides he must save her. And that's when the deadly toaster comes into play.

When Dale needs his friend the most after he's found himself in too deep, Mack comes running to the rescue after receiving a text message cry for help.
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