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Mule: A Novel of Moving Weight Paperback – September 27, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An acutely detailed page-turner..."
Entertainment Weekly

"[D'Souza's] authorial voice is sharp and crisp, eschewing flowery prose for a hard-hitting narrative style that perfectly suits the page-turning, drugfueled tale. Fans of Toby Young and Max Barry and those who follow D’Souza’s magazine work will greatly enjoy the timely, witty, fast-paced Mule."
Booklist

"A smart and bracing ground-level exploration of the drug trade."
Kirkus

"Mule is the sort of novel I love: it solves nothing but explains everything. It also, thanks to its wicked style and pacing, lets me forget I’m reading serious literature while I follow its terrifying story into the land of the all-American damned."
—Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air

"Mule is swift, taut, and relentless, both a rip-roaring drug tale and a fascinating portrait of a decent human being whose morals slowly disintegrate under unbearable financial strain. Tony D'Souza proves, yet again, that he is an immensely clever storyteller with plenty of talent to spare."
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

"With adrenaline-infused sentences and a seat-gripping storyline, Tony D’Souza has written one of the first great novels to emerge from our perplexing, endless recession. A heartfelt tale of one family’s freefall, Mule is a novel that illuminates contemporary American desperation, both its dangerous precipices and its thrilling, overwhelming freedom."
—Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness

From the Back Cover

“Thanks to its wicked style and pacing, Mule lets me forget I’m reading serious literature while I follow its terrifying story into the land of the all-American damned.” — Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air

Mule is swift, taut, and relentless, both a rip-roaring drug tale and a fascinating portrait of a decent human being whose morals slowly disintegrate under unbearable financial strain.” — Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do. A friend in California’s Siskiyou County grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months. And so begins the life of a mule.
      A page-turning, Zeitgeist-capturing novel that plunges us into the criminal underworld with little chance to take a breath, Mule is about young people trying to make do in a moment when the American Dream they never had to believe in — because it was handed to them, fully wrapped and ready to go at the takeout window — suddenly vanishes from the menu.

“With adrenaline-infused sentences and a seat-gripping story line, Mule is a novel that illuminates contemporary American desperation, both its dangerous precipices and its thrilling, overwhelming freedom.” — Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness


Tony D’Souza is the author of two novels, including the award-winning Whiteman. He has contributed to numerous magazines, includ¬ing The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Granta, and McSweeney’s.

www.tonydsouza.com

Look for the reader’s guide at www.marinerreadersguides.com

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 Original edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547576714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547576718
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harkius VINE VOICE on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a really strange book. For all the world, despite the clear label on the front of "Novel", it didn't feel like one. It felt like a novelization of real-life events. For any number of reasons.

That said, I am a bit ambivalent about it. For example, the beginning of the book is incredibly rushed, especially as compared to the rest of the book. Life is good, everything is going well, economic crisis, and in fifteen pages, suddenly they have no money and no jobs.

A little more setup would have been nice, if only to give us some insight into the characters. Myself, I found the wife truly obnoxious, largely due to the portrayal, and the husband a grievous, useless lout. Generally, the characters are thoroughly unlikable. Fortunately, many bad things happen to them. That kind of makes up for some of the aforementioned negativism.

The plot was a bit predictable, although it wrapped up a bit nicely for a novelization. If it is based on a real story, I'd suspect that the mule flipped, and is in WitSec somewhere in rural Pennsylvania or something. Again, I am ambivalent about it. It ended concisely and completely, with all of the loose ends tied up, albeit a bit deus ex machinacally.

I can't, in good conscience, tell everyone (or really almost anyone) that they should read this book. That said, I can't tell them that they shouldn't, either. It's a quick read, I polished it off in about six hours, but it isn't something I will probably ever read again. I wasn't very impressed, since the author won an O. Henry award.

Grade: C-

Harkius
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Format: Paperback
James Lasseter and his soon-to-be-wife Kate are living the good life in Austin when Kate, newly pregnant, is fired from her job. The economy has gone south and James, a freelance writer, can't get an assignment. James and Kate move to a mountain in Northern California where they can stretch their meager savings while deciding what to do next. As Kate shares a joint with a friend from Austin who raves about its quality, James soon realizes that he can earn serious cash by selling NoCal weed in Austin and elsewhere. Thus begins James' career as a mule: a runner of drugs between California and Florida.

For a bright guy, James does some remarkably stupid things, like continually booking one way flights from Florida to California and renting cars for the return trip. He might as well have stamped DRUG MULE on his forehead. He also does a deal that screams "trouble." I suppose the moral is "Greed will make you do stupid things." True enough, but that tale has been told many times before, often more convincingly than D'Souza tells it here.

Had this been a true story, a memoir of a life of crime, I would probably have found it more interesting. As a work of fiction, it lacks pizzazz. Tony D'Souza's writing style is bland and part one of the story he tells is surprisingly dull. James speaks of feeling both nervous and elated while driving drugs cross-country, but D'Souza failed to make me feel James' emotions (to his credit, that changed in part two). When a fairly predictable moment of drama finally arrives (about midway through the novel, toward the end of part one), the dramatic boost it gives to the story is too little, too late.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The economy turns south and James and Kate, young up and comers are both laid off. They head west with no money. soon James gains work as a drug mule driving west to east and later north to south. The account is told from his perspective.

The novel reads like a memoir or a fictionalization of a real life. This is both good and bad. It makes the account tremendously realistic, but it also makes it a bit dry. James recounts the building of his business and the seductiveness of the money. Soon it is apparent that all is about greed - his and Kate's. As he puts forward the facade of a family man, his drug business is stressing him to the point of causinng his beard to fall out. He knows he wants to get out some day, but he knows he loves the money and knows you can never leave this business alive.

The book marches onward as James gets deeper into the drug world while gaining profitability. The ending is a surprise and picks up the pace to a page turner.

This is a very good story that takes a look at the effects of greed on the "normal" people next door. James is haunting with his detached view of his life; the life of one seemingly in control but with knowledge that nothing is in his control. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about this book while listening to NPR back in September. I finally got around to reading it yesterday and couldn't put it down! For lack of a better term, this book is BANANAS. It is the first legitimately good book I've read in ages. It's fast paced, fairly unpredictable and a good commentary on the values in our society today.

I can see what some of the other reviewers meant when they said that there wasn't enough character development at the beginning of the book, but the book is called MULE. I wanted to read about that-not spend pages and pages reading about their life prior.

Bottom line, get this book!
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