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Paperback The End of the Road Book

ISBN: 0553242768

ISBN13: 9780553242768

The End of the Road

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good


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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. As young Jake Horner s mind became an increasingly paralyzing cobweb of dark thoughts, he turned for help to an extraordinary doctor part saint, part evil-genius, a weird combination of faith healer,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Barth 102: An Introduction to the Master, continued

"The End of the Road" shares a central plot element (a love triangle) with Barth's first novel, "The Floating Opera", but in TEOTR the relationship is about as far from consensual as can be, and as a result TEOTR is a very different, even more powerful story. Barth crams a lot of substance into TEOTR, and it succeeds on multiple levels: as a compelling story with much for the reader to ponder, as a political statement (John Irving appears to me to have been inspired by the ending of TEOTR in his acclaimed "Cider House Rules"), and as applied philosophy, with religious undertones. "In a sense, I am Jacob Horner," states Jacob Horner, the Barthian hero/anti-hero of TEOTR, at the very beginning of the story, but who is Jacob Horner (or whom does he represent)? Jacob Horner may represent the ultimate modern man, a person who rejects objective, absolute truths in favor of relativism, and who is so imbued with knowledge that he can see all sides of any argument, contradiction or paradox. At times Horner is completely paralyzed from acting, and at almost all other times his actions are timid to the extreme, such that he relies on "the Doctor", who prescribes nonsensical therapies to get Horner to take action, any action. Horner's thought process has many parallels in today's society, especially leaders who can't make up their minds and waffle on the issues. Horner suggests he may be the devil, but his logical thought process (his ability to see and accept opposite qualities in others, as in a love/hate relationship) suggests the "shades of gray", fuzzy logic thinking prevalent at all levels of modern society.Joe Morgan, Horner's colleague, also believes only in relative values, and has even more formal education than Horner, but he has devised a philosophy which he believes tells him how to act in all situations. Morgan, whom Horner suggests may be God, is the "black and white" thinker in contrast to Horner's gray, but his philosophy has holes that become obvious to all but him at the end.TEOTR, while not Barth's greatest work, is everything a great piece of literature should be. Barth creates fascinating characters drawn from the fabric of modern society, puts them through episodes of high drama, and produces outcomes that provide the fodder for debate about just what it all means.

Barth roars out of the starting gate

When you pick the book up you think to yourself, "There's no way this is John Barth" after all after holding the book for several minutes, your muscles aren't aching at all from the weight. Heck the novel is almost pocket sized. Yes, kids, early on Barth was reasonable concise in length (not that I don't like his longer stuff), at least for his first two novels (I think his third was the Sot-Weed Factor) so this makes a good place for novices lacking the stamina to jump right in. And actually for a first effort this is remarkably good and remarkably daring, considering that it was published in the late fifties. It's the story of Jake Horner, a young guy recently hired to teach grammar at a small college, and the infidelity he gets involved in with one of the other professor's wives and what happens because of that. The fairly standard story is completely changed by Horner's narration though. Cynical and uncaring, but somehow oddly admirable, Barth manages to make him seem almost likeable, even when his behavior verges on being that of a total monster (emotionally at least). His verbal sparring with his fellow professor Joe, who's outlook on life is equally extreme as Horner's is nonexistant (you could probably make a case and say that the story is existential in nature but I don't know enough about the philosophy to say for sure). But while the story remains at its heart a tale of infidelity, toward the end it takes a decidedly dark turn as Barth shows that everything has consequences. If the tone and nature of the story was daring for its time, its unsparingly frank view of abortion must have been absolutely shocking and even today is probably enough to turn people off. It shouldn't. While not his best book, it shows a master beginning to stretch his muscles (or at least realize he had muscles to stretch) and announced the entrance of a new literary talent with a voice that could be both uproariously funny and starkly grim all in the same story.

A moral essay on personal responsibility

This book is oddly melancholic. It tells all of the failings of human beings in conducting relationships. This book was written in a time when one could still be deemed responsible of his or her errors: see the crucial passage when the protagonist thinks he's got away whit adultery...and he discovers he did not. From the times when "I did not want to do this (meaning the Devil,genes,society,Life,the Universe and Everything made me do this)" was not accepted as an excuse.

NOT Hyperbole! The FUNNIEST Book I've ever read

This Book was required reading for class, and I am so grateful it was! That was nearly 6 years ago, and I still read this book almost every 2 months, or whenever I feel down--It ALWAYS cheers me up. My only complaint is that it is so hard to find. My original copy fell apart because I read it so many times, and I had a heck of a time finding a new copy. I Wholeheartedly recommend this book. IT's a treasure.

An excellent book

This Tom Bodett book ought to be an American treasure and an instant classic. Perhaps the only obstructions to this happening are a lack of good distribution and increasing apathy towards reading. This collection of stories outshines the cassette version with its completeness and the liberty that it affords readers in portraying the characters as they wish to see them. Tom Bodett's reading is top notch, but his writing is even better. His stories are of small town people. Some have a clue, others don't have so much as a prayer of getting a clue, but they all hold your attention while shedding new light on life, love, happiness, and the ever present confusion that goes along with them.
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