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Burnt Toast: A novel Hardcover – 1971

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394469488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394469485
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,630,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like Trout Fishing in America, but sweeter and more poingant. I've been looking for this book since 1976. I am anxious to read it again with adult eyes. You can't go home again, but some reads take you close. The combination of the rustic and ordinary with the surreal in this tale, and the original characters, made this a memorable reading experience. The only book I've read since then that stayed with me this long was Song of Solomon.
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Format: Hardcover
I met the man whom Baba Ram Das Alpert called the Black Christ in Cambridge (MA) in the mid-70s: Karmu. He was a car mechanic by day and a healer (as googling his name will show) after hours. [I was privileged for 6 months to be his gofur/assistant mechanic at the shop.] One of the hundreds of young wanderers who had spent time there was Mr. Gould; indeed I first encountered the book at the Green St. house, but never Gould himself. The Gould tale is magical surrealism based on the hippie civilization/consciousness of the time (and Karmu's place)-- but transported from the city to Vermont, where the wise "Kamoo" does auto body work. The attitudes and the dictums of Kamoo are right from the Cambridge guru; one gets a potpourri of the best and less-than best of that culture, presented at the outset with the semi-tragic perspective: "when the two were one". No one could recall why they had become two. A good read for today's young, and a great trip, with pathos, for those who were, in any way, "there."
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Format: Hardcover
Haven't read this book in 20 years, it still haunts me. Like "In Watermelon Sugar", the story is of passages with friends through a dream-like ordinariness of mystery. I lived in the country at the time, and liked to sit in an old weed-locked truck when it rained and read. This book made you feel like you might understand some message whispered through blowing fields, or see a future light filtered through the barn doors.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One Saturday afternoon in the winter of 1972 found me perusing new paperbacks in a Walden's bookstore situated in a mall in Kansas City, Kansas. Two novels in particular caught my attention: Tom Robbins' Another Roadside Attraction, and Burnt Toast, by Peter Gould. An advertisement for the former in Rolling Stone magazine had sufficiently intrigued me to hunt it down, while the back cover blurb of the latter piqued my interest, inasmuch as it hinted at Sixties counter-culture, a sensibility I also suspected at work in Robbins' book. Peeking into the contents of that paperback edition of Burnt Toast, my eyes lit upon the Incredible String Band lyrics which form part of its opening invocation, and I was sold: at age eighteen, I was already lamenting my lost youth, aching with nostalgia for the psychedelic culture I had observed from a distance at age fourteen. Most likely, it would be difficult for anyone not alive during that period to appreciate the immense and tumultuous changes that occurred between 1967 and 1972, or how, from the vantage point of `72, the late Sixties could seem so immeasurably distant, as though centuries, rather than years, had passed. At an embittered and disillusioned eighteen, the world of my early adolescence seemed a golden, prelapsarian age. And as both these novels seemed, at first glance, to emanate that era, I decided to put aside my post-modern library--Barth, Pynchon, et al--for the while and indulge.

If Sixties nostalgia is what I sought, it was certainly to be found in Roadside Attraction.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone born too late for the mellow fade of the 1960s into the early 1970s, there's no better way to experience from the inside just how mysteriously lovely & magical it felt than to read this half-memoir/half-novel. Interpreting the author's own life at that time through a kind of down-home Otherness, the story meanders & digresses as naturally as an old stream, with vivid colors & mythic overtones permeating the world. I won't bother to offer a synopsis, as what really matters here is the evocation of heartfelt feeling, a more rooted & even sacred way of living that's sadly missed & sorely needed today. I don't want to make it sound overly profound & ponderous, though -- there's plenty of warm humor here, and an easy lightness that makes the actual depth of the story all the more moving.

Comparisons to Richard Brautigan's "In Watermelon Sugar" are apt -- but this is no mere imitation of that better-known work. In fact, it stands quite well on its own. It has the dreamlike quality of a late summer day that's more even rapturous in memories -- and the nights are filled with stars, a fat old moon, and a ghostly wonder that transfigures the most seemingly mundane things. It's as if the reader has been walking along in this everyday world & somehow taken a side path to a timeless & more meaningful alternative world ... but the alternative is one of perception & mindset. I might even make a comparison to John Crowley's "Little, Big" as well -- it has the same interweaving of the everyday world with a separate reality that's very much taken for granted ... and is it really so separate after all?
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