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Cities of Men: A Novel Paperback – May 23, 2017
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“William Jensen’s compelling debut novel touches a central mystery of contemporary American life: How can a boy manage to become a man when all the models he has are numb, angry, damaged―or absent altogether?” ―John Benditt, PEN-nominated and National Jewish Book Award-winning author of The Boatmaker
“. . . deeply moving and complex . . . has an ear to the ground for what makes us fully human: our yearning for more than the world will give. CITIES OF MEN asks the big questions that all great novels do: Who are we? And how do we know? Jensen is a writer to watch.”―Scott Blackwood, PEN USA Award finalist and Whiting Writers’ Award-winning author
"William Jensen’s CITIES OF MEN manages the remarkable..."―Manhattan Book Review
About the Author
William Jensen grew up in California and Arizona. His short fiction has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, New Plains Review, The Texas Review, and various other journals and anthologies. Mr. Jensen now lives in Texas.
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The novel remains vivid and engaging all the way to the end, only gaining momentum with each chapter. Just when you think the resolution is surely coming, Jensen doubles down, making you squirm just long enough so that you feel what Coop is feeling. And this is the essential point, and what we should value in good fiction. Jensen makes us feel the pain of his characters. He doesn't shy away from hard moments, or try to direct to something easy or pretty; he takes Coop and his father to their breaking point and asks them to respond. This examination of emotional hurt and shame is where we see the heart in each character. The pain in a story is where everything takes shape—it's what produces change and explains actions even years down the road. Without feeling that pain, the story is flat, pointless, and not even worth reading. Fortunately for us, this story was crafted by a gifted storyteller. I'm excited to see what's next from William Jensen.
Cities of Men is a deep and heavy novel, perfect for readers like myself, who take great strides at finding such stories. But the value contained within its pages goes much further than pure entertainment. In fact, I think anybody who has yet to be a parent, but is considering such colossal undertaking, should carefully read this book. Being a good parent requires a massive amount of emotional and physical generosity. A good parent would be anything but selfish of these characteristics. And in Cities of Men, Mr. Jensen brilliantly illustrates just how powerful such "parental shortcomings" are to the mind of a young child. That alone was the clincher for me. Cities of Men -- an exceptional novel well worth reading.
Jensen's writing style is concise yet incredibly descriptive, making it easy feel like you are with the characters as they live through their struggles, not just simply observing the events from a distance. His attention to detail in the setting is impeccable, making the reader feel as if they live in the neighborhood with Cooper and could navigate the city streets on their own. The story draws readers in truly making them a part of the events as they unfold.
Cities of Men is a must read for anyone who has experienced the challenges of making an identity for themselves during their youth while trying to make sense of the world around them. It is easily the best book I've read this year.
Most recent customer reviews
The characterizations and tight prose in Cities of Men reminded me of early Richard...Read more