Literary Fiction Historical Fiction Category: Literary Fiction Historical Fiction. About Something to Be Desired In life Lucien Taylor has made several mistakes, but the two most grievous are as follows: Also in Vintage Contemporaries. Also by Thomas McGuane. See all books by Thomas McGuane.
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A Ladder to the Sky. The World According to Garp. Published April 12th by Vintage first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Something to Be Desired , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Something to Be Desired.
Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. A Thomas McGuane novel is like a hearty western breakfast on the range, except that the bacon portion is sliced from the gamey ass of a dead Sasquatch.
VINTAGE CONTEMPORARIES |
That probably doesn't make much sense unless you've read McGuane--and maybe still doesn't even if you have. McGuane's quirky sense of reality is so on-point that it somehow it all comes out seeming surreal. It's like Tom Bodett left the light on for Salvador Dali. What McGuane typically does--and I can say this now because I've read three of his al A Thomas McGuane novel is like a hearty western breakfast on the range, except that the bacon portion is sliced from the gamey ass of a dead Sasquatch. What McGuane typically does--and I can say this now because I've read three of his alternately frustrating and effervescent novels--is chronicle the maddening journey of male protagonists hell-bent on self-destruction.
McGuane's men long for lives that resemble a placid pool but who nonetheless run without breaking stride toward a jump into class-six rapids. They know that they're doing wrong, but the logic of the moment always seems to favor madness. McGuane's protagonists strive for redemption by taking the long, circuitous, arduous path of hedonism.
The path to the right is rarely certain, and, in McGuane's hands never preachy or moralistic. When McGuane picks up clay, he sculpts a subject beautifully perfect in its grotesquerie. The novel begins around on the Montana homestead of the Taylor clan. There, young Lucien Taylor tries to live the life of a normal American boy despite the dysfunctions in his parents' rocky marriage.
Not surprisingly, he grows to inherit many of his father's eccentricities and tendencies to ramble or follow his dick in the direction of the nearest willing snatch. This tendency proves nearly ruinous when he throws over the potentially idyllic family life with his beautiful patient wife, Suzanne, and their young son, James, in order to help an old flame in distress, Emily, a woman who may be even more erratic than himself in her habit of shooting down dead any man who crosses her. The unreliable Emily runs off again with a lover, in the process deeding over her Deadrock, Montana, ranch to the impoverished Lucien, who gets a brainstorm one day and turns it into a lucrative health resort built around a natural hot springs--the site of Lucien and Emily's first lovemaking.
In the complications that ensue, Lucien tries to bond with his estranged wife and son, and finds himself in an affair with a bored local housewife, Dee, whose husband manages to extort hush money from Lucien at shotgun point--and a promise to pay the cuckolded husband to install seamless gutters at the resort, a technological miracle that, of course, does not keep the leaves out of the gutters as promised.
The premise and story of this novel are slight in the extreme, but it's the beauty of McGuane's artfully hewn sentences and oddly humorous and sharp observational sense that give the reader such pleasure. He is one of the masters of enviromental description and the wry turn of phrase. Some of my favorite passages from the book: The town crouched in front of the terrific mountains to the south, great wildly irregular peaks that seemed to say to the little town, Don't try anything.
- Only the Gods Decide.
- Meddling Kids.
- Perfetta letizia (Italian Edition);
- TU MEJOR NEGOCIO (Spanish Edition).
The laughter and toasts that came from the house now seemed like a home team faithfully cheered for a bad loss. She cooked at the brandings and made eyes at the ropers. She read love comics and used her Chapstick as if it was a cigarette, and she was about as dumb as a stick. She lived at Parade Rest Trailer Park, which is no more than a breeding pen, and she was stick-ass dumb.
He had benign thoughts for the man, now doubtlessly gone, who had dreamed up those appalling flowers for the linoleum factory. Could he have known what a half century's muddy boots and all that domestic abrasion would do to his bright flowers? He drank as much coffee as fast as he could and watched a two-by-four opening at the end of the room where the young girls danced together to a jukebox.
Their movements were strange and formal, glassy and distant; and everything wonderful about their bodies was under twenty-four months old. He thought if dismounting were given the same importance in sex as it is in horsemanship, this would be a happier world. He walked along while the deep cold made a bas-relief map of his own skull, exposing bone through flesh and reminding him that cold, not heat, is the natural order. But he was growing calm; calm at first in defeat and in the drifting lethargy that defeat produces. Now he hated his feet, which were white paddles.
They were not the honest arched dusky feet of the world's real people. They were the splayed white paddes of the superfluous. Apart from the obvious, it had begun making two streams during urination, one for the bowl, the other filling his shoe or starting him upon an unwelcome dance; often, too, it saved a final spurt for when it had been returned to his pants The last ten percent of her looks were still there to extrapolate the loss from. He had seen hawks on the ground, graceless as extremely aged people, and he knew their world was sky. He'd seen old cowboys limp to their horses, then fly over the land, and he knew what their world was too.
He wanted his own life to be as plain. Virgins are bores, he thought, like people with overpriced houses. It seemed to Lucien that children took up great space when they were awake and then became so small when they fell asleep. Lucien Taylor's road to maturity is paved with hurled tampons, nannies with odd sexual proclivities and other sundry incident that you might find in a backwoods Montana resort town.
Something to Be Desired
Even as Lucien gets his shit together one is never sure up to the end of the book if he ever can or will, if he is fated to heedlessly make a muck of things, to forever knowingly commit stupidity as if drawn to it by some cosmic magnet. The book, at first, did not impress me, but as it moved along it enchanted me. McGuane is a magician, a master of language and creator of sentences that surprise you with a moonshine kick.
And he's not above throwing in the inside joke or two. In one scene, two cowboys are debating an incident in the Steve McQueen western Tom Horn , the screenplay of which was written by McGuane. McGuane, I think, is one of the greatest living writers, based on the three novels I've read by him so far, but if you want to see how crazy he can get, I'd direct you to Panama first.
Something to Be Desired is more genteel than that drug-addled book, but in its way is an excellent example of the author's art and craft. Jan 25, David B rated it liked it. This slim volume tells the story of Lucien Taylor, a man who walked away from his family and then tried to work his way back. It is sporadically effective in its representation of a self-destructive man and has an honest resolution, but its minimalist style distanced me from the characters.
At times, I also felt the Heavy Hand of Symbolism, as in the character of Emily, who is apparently meant to represent the lure of the dangerous unknown. Jun 15, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: McGuane almost had a novel here, but he soon got side-tracked by another effort. I found it to be the least compelling of all of his novels.
Again, it had its moments, but the moments were far between. Jun 15, John Benson rated it it was ok. I have heard of Montana author, Thomas McGuane, for many years but have never read any of his books before. The novel is about a man named Lucien, a man who at times becomes very successful, but also fails miserably too, possibly due to his huge sex drive.
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While written in fun and earthy language, the story didn't hold together that well. I think this will also be the last book I will read by this author. Sep 27, Jeffrey rated it liked it. A lost soul and his wandering dick walks away from his beautiful family for an old flame who is a murderous slut. Mostly unbelievable and wanting.
Not my favorite McGuane - but decent. Aug 26, A. Lucien Taylor, a State Department diplomat working in the Caribbean, leaves his wife and returns home to Montana to bail out a former lover, who is accused of murder.