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Downtown Owl: A Novel Paperback – June 23, 2009
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"It's tempting to compare this novel with Sherwood Anderson's classic portrait of small-town American life, Winesburg, Ohio. But no one in Winesburg listened to Ozzy Osbourne. And Klosterman is much funnier than Anderson." -- The Washington Post
Top Customer Reviews
People--myself included--are fast to rave about Klosterman's work, and one previous review even said that the writer `wouldn't have known it was Klosterman had the name not been listed on the cover. Really? The mentioning of obscure eighties rock songs, deep debate over the creative merits of the Rolling Stones, and Black Sabbath/heavy metal references didn't remind you of any certain author's favorite topics? To me it was obvious, but I confess that it didn't bother me. That's who Klosterman is and it's natural to think that some of his music essay writings would bleed into his fictional work. In my opinion, it doesn't discredit the work at all--in fact I welcome it--but to say it doesn't exist is ridiculous.
Downtown Owl's most powerful feature may be Klosterman's characters and their introspective dialogue. Such self-reflective accounts allow readers to develop a connection to each one, even if they are have nothing in common. Also, the pace of the book--though this may be idiotic to say--sort of mirrors the pace of life in small towns like Owl. Life moves a bit slower there, and the pace of the book stays congruent with that.
The main flaw of the book, in my opinion, is the latter part of the book where the storm begins to move in. Mitch, for example, is blown backwards--with apparently no idea of what just hit him.Read more ›
After I saw an advertisement for a Klosterman event calling him "the next Hunter S. Thompson," I got very upset because, Klosterman, Hunter S. Thompson, you are not. I suddenly had a very irrational hatred for Klosterman. I thought Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs was pretty good. I didn't always agree with him, but at least when he was wrong, he was entertainingly wrong. Suddenly I hated that book and thought he was incredibly stupid and not very clever at all in retrospect. This novel, Downtown Owl, changed my mind. Klosterman is cool once more.
Downtown Owl reminds me in tone and texture of a Mark Haddon novel or David Mitchell's Black Swan Green. It has the same humor as Franzen's The Corrections with less resolution. Chuck does an amazing job with the small-town Midwest and most amazingly - he somehow writes the early-to-mid 80's without seeming nostalgic or silly or even dated. Chuck displays his encyclopedic knowledge of film and music throughout but manages to make the release of E.T. seem current. The real trick, the real page-turner is that the struggles of his characters are as universal today as they were over twenty years ago. Downtown Owl lacks the rough edges and narrative mistakes of many first novels and rolls heavy with both wit and tragedy.
The one critique I see coming for this novel is that it could be argued that there is a lack of plot.Read more ›
If I could give this book & the audio production more than 5 stars, I would. I don't know if it resonated so strongly with me because I grew up in a town not much larger than Owl. I don't know if the author was trying to make social commentary about life in rural small towns or human nature. All I know is that I started the final disc in my car on the way to a party an hour's drive out into the country and was so absorbed by and emotionally involved in the unfolding events that I worried I'd arrive before the book was done. Then I'd have to decide whether or not to sit in the car and finish the book as my friends waited inside.
The audio production is excellent. The story is told through the lives of several residents of Owl. The three main characters, Mitch Hrlicka (a high school junior), Julia Rabia (a young schoolteacher new to Owl), and Horace Jones (a 73-year old widower and lifelong resident of Owl). Each of these characters has its own narrator. This is one of the best aspects of the production. The different narrators make it easier for the listener to remember whose chapter it is and, more importantly, to connect with the character as a person. The voices seemed to suit the characters very well. At first I was annoyed by the Horace narrator's voice because his reading was very sibilant, much like an old preacher I had whose teeth didn't fit well. After a while, I realized that voice fit Horace perfectly. A couple other people have small sections either narrated by different people or by one of the other narrators using a different vocal inflection. The author also reads some parts.
The book starts with a news clipping about a blizzard in early February, 1984.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a crazy book for me, I absolutely loved Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs so after finishing this novel I was completely unimpressed. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Justin Schmidt
This was my first read of Klosterman's fiction. Based on Downtown Owl, I quite prefer his non-fic pop-cult analysis.Published 12 months ago by Robb
I wonder if someone from a big city can relate to the really funny parts of this book. I think one who knows small rural towns will find this book to be phenomenal. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Warren Granfor
This was not my favorite book of the year, although it was an excellent portrayal of small town life. Read morePublished 19 months ago by slh
I'm a huge fan of Klosterman. I like how he develops characters with descriptions that really hit home. Read morePublished 19 months ago by DrunkleNick
It was a slow read. Just didn't really care for the writing.Published 21 months ago by Paula J Adamerovich
Prior to the conclusion, I was resigned to rate this 2 stars. However, it finished with a flurry of activity. Throughout I struggled to relate to the characters and the story.Published on January 12, 2014 by Andy