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The Vast Fields of Ordinary Hardcover – May 14, 2009
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"Burd takes a familiar plot and makes it fresh...an author to watch."
"A fascinating and dreamy first novel.'"
--New York Times
"...a refreshingly honest, sometimes funny, and often tender novel."
--School Library Journal, starred review
"Burd breathes new life into the old coming-out formula...One of the best in a new generation of LGBTQ novels, it can stand alongside Peter Cameron's and Brian Sloan's."
--Kirkus, starred review
“Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary is bold. Engaging. Heartbreaking. A book worthy of attention.”
"The Vast Fields of Ordinary is a wonderfully engaging and satisfying book about all kinds of growing: growing up, growing together, growing apart. Dade Hamilton and his family and friends (and enemies) are all vividly and complexly imagined and realized, and I loved spending time with them. Nick Burd's extremely accomplished and beautifully detailed prose reanimates the usually moribund American suburban wasteland, like an alchemist, he finds the wonder in the ordinary."
--Peter Cameron, author of SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU
"Nick Burd's debut novel unfolds like the summer vacation it chronicles: in the beginning the vista seems limitless, but as the pages turn and the days pass the plot thickens and the end comes way before you're ready to put it down. This is a mysterious, funny, wise, generous story, and its main character is someone you need to know, and you'll never forget."
--Dale Peck, author of MARTING & JOHN and SPROUT
"Who can resist a kid who survives his senior year of high school despite having been given the nickname Vagisil? Not I... Dade Hamilton's coming-of-age tale with a Midwest twist is devastatingly real, but it's also funny, touching, and ultimately quite hopeful."
--T Cooper, author of LIPSHITZ SIX, OR TWO ANGRY
"A brilliant account of alienation and angst in the heartland."
About the Author
Nick Burd attended the University of Iowa and received his MFA from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Vast Fields of Ordinary is his first novel.
Top customer reviews
Reason #1: Dade is such a hard character to understand. His mood swings wildly. He says something and then contradicts himself the very next chapter. He has such a hot and cold relationship with his parents that I feel more sorry for THEM than I do for him. His interactions with everyone, friend and enemy, leave me confused and wondering what Dade is so angsty about. He brings on most of his own problems and then the things he seems to care about more than anything in the world just get written off a few pages later. His relationships with Pablo and Alex are never fully fleshed out or made to feel "real". More like plot devices that are put in place so Dade can sabotage himself.
Reason #2: For an alienated young gay teen in Iowa he really doesn't have a lot to be writing bad poetry over or drinking his "problems" away. He has two parents who are trying to make their relationship work for him. He has not one but two guys (plus a girl) all pining for him throughout the book. He has a cool Lesbian friend who helps him ease his way into gayness, even taking him to a local gay bar which don't exist in small Iowa towns (not to nitpick... We also have very few below-ground pools). High School sucked but we don't hear hardly anything about high school. Instead we hear that in the few months since High School Dade meets at least four people who become his friends and don't seem to want anything from him in return besides love and friendship. He lives in the 'Burbs which has become such a tired cliche of middle-class imprisonment over the years.
The whole book just felt kind of stunted. Like an unfinished sentence. Nick Burd obviously is doing something right in that this book made a connection with so many people. I was sadly not one of them. Having gotten the easy part (the complaining) out of the way the descriptive writing and some of the romantic scenes in the book were very well done! I found myself continuing to read despite all the problems I listed above mostly for these reasons. I cared enough about the flawed characters and liked the style of the writing enough to finish a book and for that it deserves a 3rd star from me. I'm just still not quite sure what it all means?