on January 11, 2003
I enjoyed reading Powell's first collection of short stories entitled "Typical" and looked forward to reading this one, once I got the chance.
Powell has a really great ear for the way people speak, but more to the point, he can really get inside the minds of the down-and-out, somewhat crazy men and women he portrays. The 3 linked stories grouped under the title "All Along the Watchtower" are reminiscent of many of Samuel Beckett's works. (I thought most of "Molloy" and "Malone Dies.") He also has shadings of Flann O'Brien, who is quoted as the Frontispiece to this volume.
For me a hallmark of really great writing is that I find myself reading it aloud, and I was vocalizing muchos veces during this read. The writing can go from downright hilarious to heart-rendingly poignant to deeply troubling with ease. A very great read!
on June 14, 2000
Padgett Powell weaves an imaginative South that's as rich as Lady Baltimore cake. Losers and drunkards compete for the attentions of women with big hair and bigger secrets. Powell seems to know them all, and he hints at something darker and more mysterious in the American character, but with a quirky, hysterical style that can take a reader's breath away, and leave him jealous of a writer with so much natural talent. Even his weakest stories are better than almost anyone's else strongest ones.