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In the Country of the Blind: A Novel Hardcover – November 1, 2016
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Edward Hoagland’s quiet, emotionally complex novel . . . not to mention his creator’s searching and abundant writings over a 60-year career, [is] well worth the ride.”--The New York Times Book Review
"Does anyone write better than Edward Hoagland? I doubt it, and this is one of his best novels--taut, tender, and true." --Phillip Lopate
"His twenty-fifth and best book to date...More than any writer since Thoreau, Edward Hoagland has spent a lifetime celebrating the world we live in for all its tattered glory, and our own." -- Burlington Free Press
Touching but unsentimental, the narrative evokes the whole of a man with the gentle, thoughtful, and precise words that epitomize Hoagland’s writing. Fine reading and essential for fans of the author’s oeuvre.” --Library Journal
"A treasure on multiple levels, the novel leads us into its protagonist's sensory world with such ease, intimacy, and humor the 83-year-old Hoaglandwho is going blind himselfseems to be in our thoughts as much as we are in his. Taking leave of Press is no easy task.The incomparable Hoagland's 25th book is not only one of the most rewarding novels of the year, it's also one of the sexiest." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Exquisite . . . a masterful work” -- Booklist
Praise for Devil's Tub :
"Edward Hoagland’s collected stories are dazzling. The characters are sometimes in the spotlight (not always; sometimes the light is very dim, indeed): fancy cowboys and competitive motorcycle racers that light a harsh one, except for the modulations, the perfect pitch, the empathy and real-world-awareness the writer puts on display. I’m not the most likely audience for stories about fighters and men on the run from bears, but you know what? The writer cornered me and dragged me into this glorious, furious, believable, yet incredible mess. I’m on the sidelines, totally involved, eating my heart out with admiration. Every story has its own intrinsic logic, every conclusion its understated and elegant power punch. Read this book, please." --Ann Beattie
Praise for Children Are Diamonds:
The ferocious lucidity of Hoagland’s language and the depth of his characters as they navigate political complexity, hellish violence, endless fear, persistent desire, and desperate calculations of survival make for a shattering tale of epic suffering, bitter irony, and miraculous flashes of beauty.”Booklist
A gritty cinematic story wrapped in brilliant African detail, mesmerizing, from the unforgettable opening scene, on to the end. Quite simply, a masterpiece.”Garrison Keillor
Edward Hoagland has long been both a resolute explorer and a preternaturally versatile writer. He’s written more nonfiction than fiction, but what he brings to this terrifying novelI mean, in addition to his humane vision and exquisite craftis everything he has learned (as Graham Greene learned) from the world. The range and depth of Hoagland’s travel books, and of his many remarkable essays, are on display in this novel set in Africa, where killing and sexual brutality are juxtaposed with humanitarian care. Hoagland’s aid workers are damaged souls, but they haven’t quit. In a world of unbearable inhumanity, what comes across in this intrepid novel is the power of doing the right thingeven, or especially, in a moral outback.”John Irving
Children Are Diamonds is the latest addition to a remarkable collection of books about the war in southern Sudan that evokes the time and place with haunting imagery. Hoagland aptly captures the lives of Western do-gooders and opportunists lured by the adrenaline rush of Africa, evoking the closeness, and the randomness, of death in a war zone.”New York Times
Praise for Edward Hoagland:
Hoagland is our wild world’s literary virtuoso.” Annie Proulx
One of the very best writers of his generation.” Saul Bellow
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At 47, Press is losing his sight. Due to his loss of sight, he has already lost his job as a stockbroker and his wife, who doesn't want to care for him. He moves to a cabin in Vermont, near a couple helpful neighbors, a hippy commune, and, apparently, drug runners, while he, rather aimlessly, tries to figure out how to live the rest of his life. Carol, an artist and hippy who lives nearby takes an interest in Press and shows up unannounced and visits, takes him to the commune, entertains him, cooks and eats with him, teases him, and provides sex. Melba, a local woman comes to clean his cabin and provides conversation. And random stuff happens.
At age 83, Hoagland, himself, is going blind, which provides some buzz about his novel. It does allow him to describe the loss of sight and the challenges facing Press, but that doesn't seem to be enough to carry the whole novel. Press comes across as a foolish man who is purposefully choosing to be oblivious to certain facts and is making odd, rather self-destructive choices. Additionally, all the characters seem to speak in the same, hesitant voice which results in the conversations all feeling awkward, which were already awkward due to the content.
Even with some parts that were beautifully descriptive, this novel just never hit the right note for me. I finished it feeling dejected and desiring a better novel, or at least one with a plot and more focus.
Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.