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Slouching Towards Kalamazoo (Phoenix Fiction) Paperback – June 1, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"With luck, a writer capable of producing both Slouching Towards Kalamazoo and The Blood of the Lamb will not remain unappreciated for long."

(Adam Kirsch New York Sun)

"The fine cutting edge of his comic vision comes, as always, from the sense that there is hell to pay."
(Paul Gray Time)

"Anyone who has never read him could perhaps find no better place to start than with [Slouching towards Kalamazoo]. . . . It is vintage De Vries."
(Thomas Meehan New York Times)

“De Vries was an editor at Poetry magazine, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and the author of some two dozen of the wittiest novels you’ll ever read, including the masterworks The Blood of the Lamb and Slouching Toward Kalamazoo, as well as The Tunnel of Love and Reuben, Reuben, just resurrected in handsome paperback by the University of Chicago Press. . . . Only those with a consummate lack of cleverness wield the word ‘clever’ as an insult, and De Vries demonstrates just how much can be done with a creative intelligence charged by the clever and satirical and ironic. Let us now praise those saints at the University of Chicago Press who possess the smarts and good taste to return to print a peerless American maestro of wit.”
(William Giraldi The Millions)

About the Author

Peter De Vries (1910–1993), the man responsible for contributing to the cultural vernacular such witticisms as "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be" and "Deep down, he's shallow," was, according to Kingsley Amis, "the funniest serious writer to be found on either side of the Atlantic." But De Vries's life and work was informed as much by sorrow as by wit, and that dynamic is nowhere better seen than in his classics Slouching Towards Kalamazoo and The Blood of the Lamb. First published in 1982 and 1965, respectively, these novels reemerge with their sharp satire and biting pain undiluted by time.
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Fiction
  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226143899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226143897
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished this book. I could not put it down. Peter De Vries is a brillaint comic writer. I put him up there with Woody Allen. His characters were so void of common sense yet "book smart". The situation with Tony getting his teacher pregnant in one passionate moment was the funniest thing I ever read. It never struck me as "dirty" or off color. The way the two of them handled the "delicate situation" was side splittingly funny. I have to say that when Tony starting reciting the "chief products of Venezuela" I almost fell on the floor laughing. I was also very taken by his father and the way the author described how he would read from books to his wife and Tony. The expression he would use in his voice could almost be "heard" by me because the author described it so well. My favorite line from the book was in the beginning. Tony's teacher had assigned "The Scarlet letter". The mayor being a "percursor to todays Moral Majority" said,"We're gonna tighten our Bible Belt! "We're gonna show'em we're the buckle of the belt". I live in a very conservative state and it would be something I just might hear and have to giggle. I highly recommend this book. It is a winner.
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By A Customer on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book kept me laughing out loud all the way through. Even on re-reading, it's still funny. Very witting, very erudite. Great fun for anybody who's a bit on the bookish side. Without giving too much of the plot away -- an affair between an English teacher and a student, and they keep correcting each other's grammar & vocabulary & epigrams during intimate moments. Fun book!
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Format: Paperback
Man, why is this guy out of print? This stuff is great! A truly humorous, satirical novel, this surpasses almost anything written in the last twentyt yuears that I have read in its wit and uncanny shenanigans.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As I've stated before, to anyone who'd listen, Peter De Vries deserves much wider recognition, but perhaps more than any of his other novels, "Slouching Towards Kalamazoo" illustrates why he's often difficult to recommend. A brief synopsis including the fact that a middle school teacher becomes pregnant by a student, and that that book includes some of the funniest lines ever written would seem incongruous at the very least. Someone reading on an ereader would be at a distinct advantage, as this novel requires a trip to the dictionery at least once a page.

All the above notwithstanding, certain discerning readers will be richly rewarded. More than that, I will not say, as the great Peter De Vries does not need my defense.
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Format: Paperback
This is a funny book, and it's late, even minor, De Vries. More major works include:

Comfort Me With Apples is a masterpiece. There are brilliant lines and turns of phrases on almost every page. That's De Vries at his sunny best. The Tunnel of Love, too. It was a popular play and movie. His work got darker before he re-grouped in later career. I'd also recommend Let Me Count the Ways (more '60s absurdist) and The Vale of Laughter (black humor). The fictionalized account of the death of his daughter by childhood leukemia, The Blood of the Lamb, serves as a turning point. Half farce and half tragedy, it's schizophrenia is wrenching. His dark humor probably peaked with The Cat's Pajamas & Witch's Milk, two novellas. After that he got more light-hearted. Mrs. Wallop is a case in point--his answer to Portnoy's Complaint's mother-bashing. And earlier novel, The Mackerel Plaza, is unusual in that its about the romantic travails of a minister of a church.
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Format: Paperback
What a find ! This is one of the funniest and wittiest books I've read in years. How can it languish in such obscurity-4 reviews ! Tragic !
I've highlighted so many quotables I'm going to have to buy the Library another copy. ( I can't help it !) IE: " When you greeted him with "Hi, how are you ? " his answer was invariably "Extant.", That's as high as he would put it." I think I see where Padgett Powell got some of his chops. And if you haven't read him you must follow this with Powell's "Aliens of Affection", "A Woman Named Drown", or "Typical". But only if you appreciate this hue of cynical dry wit. Who couldn't appreciate an author who can laugh in the face of his own existential dread-that's how we survive,thank you. They're, perhaps, busy reading the next James Patterson? I can't wait to get some more De Vries ( He wrote over 20 novels !). Enjoy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book tested my vocabulary like no other. I didn't get through a single page without the desire to fully understand the definition of several words....truly a challenge to read. I usually do not enjoy a book that tests me with every page.......but I sure did enjoy Slouching Toward Kalamazoo!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Its been a while since I've read such a playfully intelligent novel. Throughout the advancing narrative runs the gauntlet with an impressive array of literary allusions. A reminder of what can be achieved with the written tongue. Fun to read and most significantly, optimistic.
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