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Whompyjawed Hardcover – August, 1999

8 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Texas Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Willy Keeler, a na?ve but occasionally prescient high school senior and star football player, comes of age in Cullin's debut novel, revealing the injustices of his small hometown of Claude, Tex., while seemingly unconscious of his own sensitivity. Willy is fielding offers from college football teams, and he follows the process obediently: when his coach gives him a list of stock responses for a newspaper interview (including "you're learning," "you're improving" and "you play with emotion"), he blurts them all out for the Amarillo Daily News reporter. He dates Hanna, a gorgeous, academically serious girl whose father intends to steer the couple apart. Then Willy meets Ramona, a sexually seasoned older woman from Amarillo, who promises more illicit fun than the prudish Hanna. Being with Ramona proves to be more complicated than it first seems, however, when Willy encounters a group of thugs who are her entourage. Because perpetually wide-eyed Willy narrates most of the book in a guileless tone, readers must read the irony into his misadventures and draw connections that he may not make himself. Suspension of disbelief is tested when Willy's brother summarizes "The Swimmer," the Cheever tale of suburban malaise. The sophistication of the reference seems forced, and the intended parallel between Willy and Cheever's protagonist falls flat. However, the novel is distinguished by its honesty, eliciting comparison to such precursors as Larry McMurtry, Erskine Caldwell or even Sherwood Anderson. A few missteps aside, Cullin's evocation of small-town Texas and his skill in rendering Willy's vernacular country-boy voice mark him as a writer with potential. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In his first novel, Cullin takes a look at rural Texas and creates a voice in Willy Keeler that both defies and typifies stereotypes. Willy is a star football player in the one-sport town of Claude, TXAand he knows that this is his ticket out. Although troubled by his family life, Willy tries to create normalcy and comfort for his younger brother, Joel. Idolized by his coach, his girlfriend, and the townspeople, Willy shares his modest dreams with only his best friends, Eric and Sammy. Adolescent life is often whompyjawed, or askew, and serves as a time of open doors and disappointments. Readers will not, however, be disappointed with this genuinely talented new writer, who has said that he strives to "write more and talk less." Recommended for young adult and general readers alike.AShannon Haddock, Bellsouth Corporate Lib. & Business Research Ctr., Birmingham, AL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Press (NY); First Edition edition (August 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157962023X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579620233
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,328,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is quite a hoot, and well written too. I enjoyed the fluidity of the language, not to mention the loose narrative style of Whompyjawed. There's much to praise about Mitch Cullin's first novel, but I'll simply say that it is funny, honest, and at times very tender. And I was glad that it wasn't all about football!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lex Marcus on July 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Told with from the perspective of a high school football player, Whompyjawed is an honest, engaging, and truthful account of teenage angst, confusion, and questioning. Rather than gloss over or play down the multitude of conflicting feelings young men feel, the author displays them without making excuses. Overall, it is a funny, sometimes sad, and good novel with characters that are finely drawn and believable. I recommend this book to both teenagers and high school teachers, as it gives some needed insight to the problems young men are facing in this uncertain age.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Wasser on August 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Written with a unique voice and evocative sense of place, Mitch Cullin's debut novel, "Whompyjawed," is a complete triumph. The novel focuses on the inchoate and often inarticulatge yearnings and existential questioning of its protagonist, Willy Keeler, whose prowess in high-school football affords him the opportunity to escape the prospects of a dead-end life in Claude, Texas. "Whompyjawed" gains its stature from its reliance on the compelling, believable and authentic voice of its protagonist; Willy not only plays a great game on the gridiron, he speaks a great game as well, whether it be through his many internal monologues or external conversations with a series of memorable secondary characters who help compose the texture of his life. Cullin's memorable description of Claude, once fefined as the "real ass of nowhere," could well be compared with the atmosphere established in Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show," Kent Haruf's "Plainsong" or Larry Watson's "Montana, 1948."
It would be all to easy to caricaturize Willy Keeler's life: star football player, dates the gorgeous but virginal daughter of a repressive high-school principal, reluctant victim of paternal abandonment, observer of family disintegration, unknowing pawn of his football coach who is simultaneously paternalistic and cynically manipulative. These truths, however, grossly simplify the complexity and depth of the protagonist's life. Keeler, despite every inducement to play it safe, constantly questions his actions and tries to invent acceptable understandings of his life's direction. Football, Texas style, becomes a powerful metaphor of competition, deception and self-definition.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jack on February 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this read. It's light yet insightful. With a lauguage of its own, Mr. Cullin captured the essence of the small town and the lonliness of growing up with great sensitivity, humor, and above all, honesty. Like "This Boy's Life" and "Catcher in the Rye", this is a must read.
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