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Panhead Paperback – January 30, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Not since Anne Proulx's Heart Songs has a book taken me to this unique place in both geography, culture with such humor, respect and picturesque attention to the details of the life it shares. It is good to be back!
The construction of the principal character, Paul, by his family heritage and home in a hardscrapple northern Vermont countryside is so very true. The language (rendered with perfect pitch), anecdotes and descriptions of his passage will stay with me. This book is written with such respect for the rural Vermont farm experience of the recent past and often present day, that I came away angry at the stereotype "hick" Vermonter all too often portrayed in the media. Readers will eat at the table, farm the farm go to the schools and learn of life as the small family struggles to survive on a milk check.
The protagonists display the strength of their heritage (in this case French Canadian) and its value as a solid base for dealing with integrity in the "real" world outside Vermont and the folks from "away" who live in that world. In the end the writing explores with the purity of a tuning fork the inevitable consequences of the hard won self knowledge of the principal character. Paul is always true to himself as he discovers slowly who that is. These are the people we who live in rural Vermont know. They do not ask for much, because they have so much inside.
Bill captured me instantly with the references to nocturnal levitation, something I experienced quite frequently when I was younger, and on occasion in real time when my arse would part company with my Matchless 1942 350cc ex British Army bike with girder front forks, a tank that had to be strapped in place, and ignominiously blued exhaust pipe. This was my first of many bikes, acquired while in the RAF, and traded up when discharged to a more modern, sprung framed Matchless 350, then to a twin cylinder AJS 500 cc with "jampot" rear suspension. A Norton Commander followed, then a brief affair with a BMW, soon to be discarded for four wheels to enable getting laid in a more comfortable environment!
I always lusted for a Vincent Black Shadow, but, alas, by the time I could afford one, they wimped out into producing the motor assisted bicycle Fire Fly. What a sad end to a legend.
Memories still persist of the rhythmic throb of an AJS twin's exhaust, coupled with those of a Norton Commander's, and a BSA one lunger's, along with those of an Ariel Square Four, cruising along at dusk on the way to a Youth Hostel in the Scottish Border country. The exquisite pleasure of pints consumed at a country pub, cigarette smoke wafting under the nostrils, innocent of the threat of "second hand" smoke!
I had enough close calls, none life threatening, to make me a safer, but still speed hungry, rider. The RAF mandated helmet saved my skull on several occasions.
Bill's characterizations are hypnotic.Read more ›
Set on a 35-cow dairy farm in the remote Northeast Kingdom, the book is the coming-of-age story of Paul LeFèvre, whom the reader first meets as a four-year-old cradling a warm hen in his arms. Paul's world encompasses his self-sufficient parents; his sister and inseparable friend, Glenda; his schoolmate Tommy; and his undomesticated Uncle Theron, a retired logger who lives a cash-free existence at his remote deer camp.
There is no talking about feelings among these characters - their feelings are made known through deeds. After his grandfather's funeral, 10-year-old Paul heads to the barn and does his father's chores.
Paul fills his free time with puzzling out how to repair farm machinery, swimming with his sister in nearby ponds, roaming the woods, biking with Tommy and helping his Uncle Theron split firewood. Unlike Glenda, Paul finds school difficult - the abstract holds no attraction for him.
When Paul arrives at an out-of-state college, he confronts the values of a radically different world (his freshman roommate is the indulged son of a Mafioso) and an educational system designed to prepare him for a desk job.
The present is interwoven with the past by the book's inventive structure. Discussing the sections about the present would give away the plot, but they provide a wrenching counterpoint to the life Paul lived as a whole human being.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was interesting, although could have used some editing.....I found the ending quite sad and sudden.Published 9 months ago by Seashell
This book had me up late at night, unwilling to turn off the light.
The familiarity and cadence of siblings.
The tension of hospital waiting rooms. Read more
Here's the dramatic sequence for most stories: 1. Things are good. 2. Things get bad, 3. Things get worse, 4. Things get better.
Here's the sequence for Panhead: 1. Read more
The journey home, though rich with promise, is never easy. In this lovely new work by one of my favorite authors, the pain and pleasures of this passage are explored with a deft... Read morePublished on June 27, 2012 by soulofaword
Bill Schubart's latest book is filled with Vermont hardscrabble childhood events and adventures that are beautifully evoked. Read morePublished on June 26, 2012 by wall48