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The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody Paperback – September 27, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CLARENCE ODBODY:

"John Jughead Pierson's strength as an artist is his seemingly endless ability to find new worlds of meaning in the simplest, most familiar ingredients--it used to be three chords and an attitude; in this new book, it is a plot we all think we know and are sick to death of--and, thanks to his passion, humor, and soul, make it all seem utterly fresh, absolutely vital, and like something we cannot live without. It was a joy to read." — Jim DeRogatis, rock critic, author, co-host, Sound Opinions

"I've always loved John's mind. Almost more than John himself. It's a mind that you can trust and be fdascinated by what it makes his mouth say and his body do. You won't be disappointed by this fascinating piece of work." — Dino Stamatopolous, writer for Mr. Show, Morel Orel, Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, and NBC's Community


PRAISE FOR INCOMPLETE PHILOSOPHY OF HOPE AND NONTHINGS:

"A fiendishly smart writer...intelligent and provocative." — The Chicago Tribune

"Like the best plays of Ionesco, Albee, and Pirandello, Ian Pierce merely hints at the deepest level of truth." — Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

"Pierce is determined to fashion dense, cryptic works that confound as much as they enlighten us." — Nick Green, Chicago Reader


PRAISE FOR WEASELS IN A BOX:

"Reading Weasels In A Box is time well spent in the company of the quirky, intelligent, funny, talented, eccentric man who plays a mean underwater guitar. You won’t regret or forget it. Trust me." — Graham Rae, The New Review

"Weasels in a Box is revealing, compelling, and a flat out fun time for all to enjoy." — Denis Sheehan, Askew Reviews
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hope and Nonthings (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098156433X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981564333
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,757,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lulubella on February 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am probably one of the few celebrators of Christmas who does not religiously watch It's A Wonderful Life every holiday. It's always seems too cloying, too tidy, too precious. I know it's darker than it appears, but it seems that most people gloss over the darkness and focus on the happy ending. The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody, on the other hand, dives right into that darkness and explores the what-ifs of the film. What if George didn't survive his suicide attempt? Would the life that Clarence predicted for the town come to pass? It's a gutsy idea, to take on one of America's most beloved films, but Pierson is equal to it. He tells a story that is both heartbreaking and uplifting, and writes like he himself has earned his wings.

This book is both a pager-turner, and a serious piece of literary fiction. It is, quite simply, the best thing I've read in a long, long time.
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Format: Paperback
So John Jughead has really done it this time. You might think that if an author, as the opening of his novel, took one of the most beloved films of all time and changed the ending from happy to tragic, that those who love the film would get very angry at him, right? You probably think it could never work. But it does, and then some. As a lover of Frank Capra's 1947 It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a movie I, and many others, grew up watching affectionately each year at Christmas-time, I can safely say Pierson's book, although not quite as innocent as the film, is just as delightful. Written in straightforward yet artful prose, the novel stretches forth its ideas - about interconnectedness and causality, about appearances and attitudes - and frames them in a story peopled with characters, some from the movie, some not, but all well-rounded, believable, and, for the most part, likeable. The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody provokes thought but, above all, following the tradition of its source, has a heart. Thus, though an alteration of the film, simultaneously, a tribute. Its details are complex and layered, but, by novel's close, fit together neatly like a puzzle. Many years ago in Chicago, when I was fortunate enough to catch a production of one of Mr. Pierson's early plays, I knew he was a talented writer, but he's really outdone himself here. Read it, especially if you love the film, but even if you don't. You won't regret it.
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Format: Paperback
A fresh take on an old classic: the author takes a familiar cultural icon and turns it on its head in spellbinding fashion. Marvelous food for thought, remarkably inventive, quite a ride! You've never given so much thought to so many characters' backstories in your life, guaranteed. Utterly fascinating!
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Format: Paperback
This book shouldn't exist. It does and I'm very glad for it and you should be too and I'll get to that, but again it really shouldn't be here. There is a place book ideas are born, cosmically, and it might not be the place where the author resides. I don't know who wrote "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," but in my mind the idea was born in a dorm room, cinderblock construction, dirty clothes a foot deep in all directions, Call of Duty # whatever on pause, and an oily english lit student seated at a Target computer desk (covered in bowls of half eaten ramen and comic books) reading Jane Austin, looking up and saying, "dude, this would be so much better with zombies."

"The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody's" cosmic birthplace is a VA hospital common room on Christmas Eve, 1968. There, 3 or 4 lonely veterans, their family and friends lost or too far away, gather around a 19" Zenith, some in chairs, some in wheeled chairs, some with arms, some without, utilitarian hospital clothes and utilitarian cigarette smoke, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and feeling like it was the greatest lie ever told. Feeling like they were the proof. This is the place where someone could be in the proper mindset to watch Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart milk the Americana cow of human kindness and think to themselves, "you know what, everyone would be better off if George Bailey was dead." It is a place of despair.

And this is where the brilliant mind of John Pierson works best.

Because John Pierson recognizes that the point of despair is the point where you have nothing and thus everything is possible because there is nothing to weigh you down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was intrigued by the premise of this book, based on the beloved "It's a Wonderful Life", a movie that I have watched every Christmas for years now. Part of the charm of the film for me is the escape into a different time and and place. But the film has its dark side--and its complexities--that make it more interesting to me than some of the sappier Christmas fare from the same era, and I suspect the author was intrigued by that dark side as well.

Though this book is fairly well written, it just tries too hard for my taste. It takes the reader rather swiftly out of the WWII era Bedford falls, and into an alternate reality of failed lives, flying "F" bombs that felt bizarrely jarring, and a rather labored metaphysical exploration of unintended outcomes that becomes unnecessarily convoluted as the story winds to a close. Towards the end, I had the uneasy feeling that the author had trapped himself in a corner, and ended up using Clarence to narrate his theories on random consequences and the relationship between good and evil.
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