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Union Dues: A Novel Paperback – December 21, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

If the U.S. were to boast one great independent film director, he would be John Sayles, a cult figure among his admirers. Nominated for both an Academy Award for scriptwriting and a National Book Award, Sayles has written screenplays, teleplays, short stories, and novels and has worked as a script doctor for a virtual who's who of Hollywood film and television talent.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Reprint edition (December 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156025730X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560257301
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
John Sayles is better known as a film maker, but he's an even better novelist. This book is the best example of why. If one flashback chapter can lead to a movie as good as "Matewan," imagine what the rest of the book is like. For a more playful story with equally serious themes, try "Pride of the Bimbos," too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MV on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
After reading Sayles most recent novel, A Moment in the Sun, I was eagerly anticipating going back to one of his first, Union Dues. Perhaps I had too high expectations because I was disappointed with Union Dues.
The story takes place in 1969 between the West Virginia mines and Boston focusing on the struggles of unions and job seekers. But, the story felt very didactic, more oriented toward teaching a lesson than developing complex characters.

The main characters are a dad, Hunter (mine worker), and his two sons, Dawson, a Vietnam vet and Hobie, a 17 year old football star who runs away to Boston. The focus is ostensibly Hunter journeying to Boston to find his son because he never really knew him and couldn't just let him leave (this kind of motive underlies the novel building its philosophical and moral lessons). In some ways the tone reminds me of Sinclair Lewis, very much a criticism of unions (this is not a pro union novel, but the criticism does not come from those who think unions ruin profit or capitalism but that the men who take over unions become power hunger manipulators and don't work for the common man).

Most of the novel takes place in Boston as Hobie joins a "revolutionary cell" to fight the capitalist pigs (there are mentions of the weathermen, etc), Hunter arrives and can't get a decent job and has to apply for unemployment which he finds despicable as he searches for Hobie, and Dawson lays around getting unemployment, doing nothing and wishing he hadn't done "such horrible things" in Vietnam. The characters are various levels of cliche. It's difficult to even understand why Hobie is in Boston--he says he's hunting for Dawson, but he doesn't do any hunting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fan of New Orleans music on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
... is some of the best writing I've ever come across. Thought so 30 years ago when I first read it -- and still think so.

Maybe it's a short story in the middle of a novel, maybe it's the jumping-off point for a screenplay -- either way, it's pretty damn good.
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