Lucky Joe: The Quest for Gold Kindle Edition
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The tale is somewhat episodic in nature, which is one of the hardest things to pull off. I gave The Road 3 stars for the same reason, and Pulitzer Prize winner or not, I thought I was being generous. Lucky Joe succeeds where the other fails (to my mind, and I may well be in a minority) because the characters (the leads especially, namely the narrator and Lucky Joe) are so entirely absorbing that living life moment by moment with them, which is just how they lived their lives, is an utter joy. And for the adventure loving who don’t want to know what’s around the next corner till they get there, arguably the narrative structure suits the material perfectly. A similar idea propelled Robinson Crusoe, after all; they crash on an island, and then what? They’re struggling on an island to survive for several hundred pages, and this is supposed to sustain my attention? Same idea here. The fact that the book works where others would have had to pull out far more stops to sustain interest testifies to the author’s talents.
The writer is not without many other clever narrative devices at his disposal. The chapter cliffhangers were strong and effective. And the evolving relationship dynamic between Lucky Joe and his friend, telling the story, is right up there with the engine driving some of the best Hollywood movies, which as mediums of fiction go, depends most on the character dynamics either between the leads or between the protagonist and antagonist. Lucky Joe is himself what we’d call a catalyst hero today; he doesn’t change much, but he transforms everyone around him that he comes in contact with for the better.
It’s a shame this title and others by the author became available only posthumously. But I imagine, as with the Robert Luis Stevenson books I continue to enjoy to this day, the author may well enjoy a celebrity, or at least a well-deserved immortality, in print thanks to our electronic age. I for one will be eagerly reading more from him.
Lucky Joe follows the adventures of Jimmie, a would-be thug that becomes a stowaway with Lucky Joe, a chance encounter that changes his life for the better. Lucky Joe is fearless, with a faith in God that gets the both of them through many life-threatening crises, and changes the lives of almost everyone they meet. The majority of the novel takes place at sea, with a small part being their adventures in the mountains beyond San Francisco, searching for gold.
This book will appeal to anyone looking for an authentic read about whaling, sailoring, and mining, originally written at the turn of the previous century. It will also appeal to anyone for an uplifting story about faith and overcoming adversity. Readers with an understanding of the dialect of sailors during this period will have an easier read, but it won't deter the average reader from enjoying it.