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Middle Men: Stories Kindle Edition
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|Length: 257 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
What I like about these stories is that they feel autobiographical and "lived," yet they have been shaped the way a short story is shaped so there is an artistry and form as opposed to crude autobiography.
The themes and main characters in the stories are all similar. Young men are lost, saddled with spiritual depression and the lack of a moral compass. There are no role models or higher ideals to aspire to. In this regard, the collection is dark.
But the triumph of the writing is Gavin's humor and his ability to show the main characters' skepticism as they're faced with phonies, braggarts, ignoramuses, wannabe rock stars, misfits, sloths, and false prophets.
The first story "Play the Man" is about a sexually-repressed fifteen year old high school basketball player who eats Costco lasagna, listens to lame bromides from his basketball coach, and dips his acne-ridden face in his neighbor's pool so the chlorine will dry out his pimples. There are many David Sedaris moments in this story, which asks the question: What does it mean to "play the man"? What if there is no worthy model to emulate? Where do we go from there?
My favorite story, "Bermuda," is the most plot-driven.Read more ›
There's little plot in these stories, the notable exception being "Bermuda", arguably the stellar story here.
The journey in this collection is dark, but revealing, especially to those 35 and under who will be most able to use these stories to improve their paths. Nevertheless, I do recommend this to all, especially us guys and also career women.
Collectively, the protagonists in these stories are all young adult Californians, each circling in an orbit placing them somewhere between respectability and slackerdom. Jim Gavin lays out their lives in simple and non-judgmental terms, providing illumination with humor and surrounding the narrators with entertaining foils. I stopped dogging the ears of the pages with the best lines, because there were so many of them.
All of these stories are strong, but if you so pressed for time that you can't take on all seven: then start with "Play the Man", "Bermuda" and "Illuminati". Each presents central characters at intersections, and their choices are marvelously illustrated by the author.
Good, contemporary American fiction...
In all the stories, I get the sense of lives lived in "quiet desperation", a theme which runs throughout the book. Now if that was the author's aim, then it came off splendidly. In only one story was I able to connect with or empathize with any of the characters - "Bermuda" coming close to resembling a failed relationship of my youth - but even there, the narrative and dialogue came through as being flat.
So, if a flat landscape of action suffused with melancholy and depression was the author's intent, he succeeded admirably.
In the first story "Play the Man" we have a sixteen year old basketball player who is also starting his first job as a K Mart associate.
"Bermuda" is about a young man who works part time delivering meals for the elderly in LA, lives in a crowded apartment with aspiring band members and finds an older girlfriend who is a pianist. Said girlfriend moves to Bermuda to teach music.
ELEPHANT DOORS concerns a twenty something young man who works as an assistant on a JEOPARDY like quiz show by day and tries to make it as a comedian by night.
The main character in "ILLUMINATI" has sold his first screenplay though its production has stalled. He has an interesting relationship with his uncle who has made it big in Riverside County in the irrigation business.
A mentally unstable plumber and his female cousin who makes "six figures" working in the high tech industry are featured in "Bewildered Decisions in Times of Mercantile Terror" which is the story with the Northern California setting though the characters originated in the southern part of the state.
The title story "Middle Men" is the last and has two parts. The first is called "The Luau" and describes the life of a thirty year old man trying to make a career in the bewildering world of toilet sales. The second part "Costello" is about his sixty year old widowed father who is a "lifer" in the same field.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection of short stories is absolutely terrific. Beautifully written and filled with humor, specificity and an original and authentic voice. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Brian Bradley
I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. My initial thought when I finished was eh, and I moved on to my next book.Published 16 months ago by James Walsh
The following lines sum up this book beautifully: "He imagined the two versions of himself - the young fraud and the old pro - standing on either side of a dark chasm. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Eddie
Jim Gavin's stories are real and grimy and cool and fun to read. He's some sort of literary genius with his finger on the pulse. Also, funny & entertaining. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Captain Winter
This book was called to my attention by a Kindle Daily Deal. I ended up buying it in hardback as the price between the two was close. I thought it was a solid group of stories. Read morePublished on July 25, 2014 by Mad Man
I realize what this book is about, the middle men, but wow was it depressing. Anyone who wants to give up on life and just exist, then this is for you. Read morePublished on May 23, 2014 by Kindle Customer
It was a good read but was a little depressing in spots. I think my favorite story was the one about the guy working for a television quiz show host who was all ate up about... Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by Amazon Customer
I was hoping for mystery short stories and instead got a volume of depressing tales of losers at their worst. Read morePublished on May 2, 2014 by mysteryloverpeg
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