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World's End (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – July 20, 1990
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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T. Coraghessan Boyle, author of Water Music, a hilarious reinvention of the exploration of the Niger, returns to his native New York State with this darkly comic historical drama exploring several generations of families in the Hudson River Valley. Walter Van Brunt begins the book with a catastrophic motorcycle accident that sends him back on a historical investigation, eventually encompassing the frontier struggles of the late 1600s. Any book that opens with a three-page "list of principal characters" and includes chapters titled "The Last of the Kitchawanks," "The Dunderberg Imp," and "Hail, Arcadia!" promises a welcome tonic to the self-conscious inwardness of much contemporary fiction; World's End delivers and was rewarded with the PEN/Faulkner Award for 1988.
From Publishers Weekly
"A triumph; resonant, richly imagined and written with unfailing eloquence," exclaimed PW of this saga of the Van Wart and Van Brunt families, which limns and links the Hudson Valley's early Dutch settlers, the Indians they displaced, and their descendants in the McCarthyite 1940s and wild 1960s.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I think Boyle is as iconic and American writer as I can think of. His writing is completely centered on the USA, and whatever region or time period he is describing, he immerses the reader, he makes the place and/or time come alive and that's why he is my #1 favorite writer.
No book is as American as this one, it's practically a history book. That can, indeed be challenging. It also shows Boyle's typical view: Everyone is messed up, and some people at least try to do better, but we all fail. That is how he writes about individuals, and that is how he writes about America. Some people probably have a problem with that. But I love it.
My best friend is a lazy reader. I mean, he doesn't seek out books, he picks from the many books I read and refer to him. He never picks up books unless I recommend them, and he loved "Budding Prospects" but didn't like "World's End." I think because the structure of "World's End" is rather daunting. It is mentioned that there is a three-page list of characters, from three different time periods. That about sizes it up, I had to refer to this list over and over again while reading. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with all of these people and how they fit together. My friend did not. I imagine many a reader would be put off by the structure of World's End.
And that's fine. Boyle has written lots of straightforward books, (such as "East is East which is also excellent) and this is certainly the most convoluted. I also think that Boyle was, as another reviewer mentioned, rather more harsh than he is now. Nowadays, a character or two might actually get a somewhat happy ending. That doesn't happen in these older books.
But I don't feel it is dated. Again, I read this in the mid-2000s but it certainly didn't feel dated to me. I give five stars but I also caution that this is not his most accessible work,so it isn't for everyone. I also like movies that don't seem to make that much sense for a long time, and then everything starts coming together. That is how I feel about this book.