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Between Panic and Desire (American Lives) Paperback – March 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this unconventional, nonsequential, generational autobiography, AKA cultural memoir, Moore, a professor of English at Ohio University, describes growing up as a child of the 1950s. Panic characterized his youth, as he watched the symbols of safety and security on television—Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best—while his real world fell apart. His mother had left his often-inebriated father, but couldn't handle raising the children herself. Paranoia was the theme of his teen years, as JFK and King were assassinated; the draft and the Vietnam War drove young men to extremes; and characters like Charlie Manson, Squeaky Fromme, Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley Jr. all took aim at public figures. Moore's own paranoia was only heightened by using LSD and smoking dope while tooling around in his VW Beetle. Miraculously, desire began to overtake panic; he discovered a passion for writing, which has focused him ever since. Moore lays all this out in a series of free-form, almost playful essays; only there's something serious here, too, as he realizes our history seems to repeat itself: the Patriot Act sounds like 1984 and Iraq feels like Vietnam all over again. In the end, Moore (The Accidental Buddhist) takes readers on a quirky, entertaining joyride. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The writing is frequently very funny; insightful, too, especially Moore's belief that humans are generally delusional when it comes to their expectations vs. what is realistically possible. . . . The narrative has its poignant moments, particularly in Moore's recollections of his father. And despite his fractured take on the world, his message is essentially hopeful. Moore, it seems, is moving on." -- Robert Kelly "Library Journal" (03/01/2008)

"This book is funny, funny, funny. It is an unconventional-some might say, experimental-collection of frolicsome and touching personal essays. . . . [T]he book is a rare example of how unusual form actually helps. It is the ideal display for Dinty's imagination. He daydreams. He fantasizes. He hallucinates. And this is nonfiction. For anyone who thinks the genre is nothing more than a retelling of facts, pick up a copy of Between Panic and Desire. . . . It is literary nonfiction with integrity. And it's fun." -- Neil White "Oxford Town" (02/28/2008)

"In intertwined, wildly inventive essays . . . Moore conjures up his, and our, past from a grab-bag of elements. . . . He doesn''t work through this crazy salad so much as play with it, using individual motifs as shiny mosaic stones to arrange in funny, intriguing shapes."-Athens News -- Jim Phillips "The Athens News" (03/06/2008)

Moore forges a brisk, incisive, funny, sometimes silly, yet stealthily affecting memoir in essays and skits, a generational autobiography, and good candid guy stuff. . . . Each anecdote, piece of pop-culture trivia, and frankly confessed panic and desire yields a chunk of irony and a sliver of wisdom.Donna Seaman, Booklist -- Donna Seaman "Booklist" (03/15/2008)

The writing is frequently very funny; insightful, too, especially Moores belief that humans are generally delusional when it comes to their expectations vs. what is realistically possible. . . . The narrative has its poignant moments, particularly in Moores recollections of his father. And despite his fractured take on the world, his message is essentially hopeful. Moore, it seems, is moving on.Robert Kelly, Library Journal -- Robert Kelly "Library Journal" (03/01/2008)

Between Panic and Desire is more autopsy than memoira strange new hybrid. It''s a fantasy of letting go of the things that have haunted Moore his entire life. These things do, in fact, float off the pages.Los Angeles Times -- Susan Salter Reynolds "Los Angeles Times" (03/02/2008)

This book is funny, funny, funny. It is an unconventionalsome might say, experimentalcollection of frolicsome and touching personal essays. . . . [T]he book is a rare example of how unusual form actually helps. It is the ideal display for Dintys imagination. He daydreams. He fantasizes. He hallucinates. And this is nonfiction. For anyone who thinks the genre is nothing more than a retelling of facts, pick up a copy of Between Panic and Desire. . . . It is literary nonfiction with integrity. And its fun.Oxford Town -- Neil White "Oxford Town" (02/28/2008)

"Moore forges a brisk, incisive, funny, sometimes silly, yet stealthily affecting memoir in essays and skits, a 'generational autobiography,' and good candid guy stuff. . . . Each anecdote, piece of pop-culture trivia, and frankly confessed panic and desire yields a chunk of irony and a sliver of wisdom." -- Donna Seaman "Booklist" (03/15/2008)

"Between Panic and Desire turns the memoir genre on its head as it deftly moves from essay to essay." -- Peter Grandbois "Review of Contemporary Fiction"

"Between Panic and Desire is more autopsy than memoir-a strange new hybrid. It''s a fantasy of letting go of the things that have haunted Moore his entire life. These things do, in fact, float off the pages." -- Susan Salter Reynolds "Los Angeles Times" (03/02/2008)
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Product Details

  • Series: American Lives
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803229828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803229822
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This really isn't a memoir in the conventional sense--and thank God for that. This sad-yet-funny montage provides a number of poignant glimpses into the life of a writer and a country: whether he's writing about Irish-Americana, 9/11, dropping acid, or dysfunctional fathers, Dinty Moore is poignant, honest and ultimately hopeful. No matter how much you think your country is screwed up, or how much you think you've screwed up, or how much you think your family screwed you up, read Panic and Desire. By the time you finish it you'll realize life is better than you thought.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't share a great deal in common with Dinty Moore. I didn't grow up watching TV or obsessed with Richard Nixon, I haven't done drugs, I haven't been searching for a father figure, and I don't have a name that causes people to ask "is that your real name?" for example. But I enjoyed this short and readable book.

Moore uses creative chapters (quizzes, lists, imaginary conversations and interviews - using real quotes, etc.) to think about the role of perception and memory in our lives. It is an interesting stew - sorry, had to do it - of pop culture, sociology, psychology, commentary, criticism, and memoir.

If you have ever wondered what creative non-fiction meant, Moore - who teaches it - offers a good example in his latest book.
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Format: Hardcover
Early in his completely original and frequently hilarious memoir Between Panic & Desire, writer Dinty W. Moore learns that he has double vision. As a boy, he had just seen two of everything pretty much all of the time. That was his normal. Lucky for us, because Moore's singular way of looking back on his world--from families and marijuana, to Richard Nixon and the number nine (my personal favorite, number and chapter)--lets us witness more than just his personal history. Somehow Moore seems to see, simultaneously, what is funny and sad, momentous and fleeting, then and now. Between Panic & Desire is a trip worth taking. And I'd highly recommend letting Dinty W. Moore drive.
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Format: Hardcover
I first met Dinty while reading The Accidental Buddhist and was captivated by his style. I bought Between Panic and Desire as soon as it came out and learned that he is living my life five years in the future. I'm looking forward to his next work to see how my life turns out.
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Format: Hardcover
This is simply an amazing book: funny, accessible, poignant, avant garde, and silly all at the same time. It is an easy read, as it is organized in short, punchy chapters. If you were born in the 1950s or 60s, the book will be even more meaningful for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Format: Hardcover
Or perhaps that should be "a gorgeously surprising memoir." Inventive in form, carefully beautiful in language, funny, unexpected, heartbreaking, amusing, filial, universal... this is not just a good read but a terrific choice for book groups or just sharing with a friend. If you've had a father, if you haven't had a father, if you are a father, or if you just know what it's like to be stuck between Panic and Desire (the real towns, or just the states of being), this is a book for you. Unreservedly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Dinty W. Moore has written a completely unexpected memoir. This series of linked essays (with a quiz thrown in here and there for good measure) follows the path of a single life through the cultural touchstones that that shaped all of us who are old enough to remember Nixon, Squeaky Fromme, and Mr. Greenjeans.

If you're not old enough to remember them, buy this for your father and write something on the inside flap like, "Thanks for not sending me hither and yon looking for a father figure, Dad!" Trust me. Next time you call home for money, you'll be glad that you did.
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Format: Hardcover
Moore, the master of literary nonfiction, brings the reader into the moments that make up a life (a memoir) and explodes the meaning of them from the inside out allowing readers to glimpse reflections of their own lives refracted in the shattered glimmering fallout of a story (structured in experiential, experimental segments) well told.
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