Cover image for July, July
Title:
July, July
Author:
O'Brien, Tim, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Physical Description:
322 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780618039692
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Tim O'Brien is widely acclaimed as our finest chronicler of the Vietnam War and its afermath. In his ambitious, compassionate, and terrifically compelling new novel, this American master returns to his signature themes -- passion, memory, and yearning -- in a brilliant ensemble piece. July, July tells the heart-rending and often hilarious story of a group of men and women who came into adulthood at a moment when American ideals and innocence began to fade. Their lives will ring familiar toanyone who has dreamed big dreams, suffered disappointment, and still struggled toward a happy ending.
At the thirtieth reunion of Minnesota's Darton Hall College class of 1969, ten old friends join their classmates for a July weekend of dancing, drinking, flirting, reminiscing, regretting. The three decades since their graduation have seen marriage and divorce, children and careers, hopes deferred and abandoned. Two best friends toast their ex-husbands with vodka and set out for a good time. A damaged war veteran opens his soul to a Republican trophy wife recovering from a radical mastectomy. An overweight mop manufacturer with a large yet failing heart reignites his passion for a hyperkinetic housewife. And whispering in the background is the elusive Johnny Ever, part cynical angel, part conscience, the cosmic soul of ages past and of ages future.
Winner of the National Book Award for his classic novel Going After Cacciato, Tim O'Brien once again strikes at the emotional nerve center of our lives. With humor and a sense of wistful hope, July, July speaks directly to our unique American character, and to our unique resilience.


Author Notes

Tim O'Brien was born on October 1, 1946 in Austin, Minnesota. He graduated from Macalester College in 1968 and was immediately drafted into the U. S. Army, serving from 1969 to 1970 and receiving a Purple Heart.

Three years later, his memoirs of the Vietnam War were published as If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. Later works include Northern Lights (1975), Going After Cacciato (1978, winner of the National Book Award), and The Things They Carried (1990, winner of the Melcher Book Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"What Went Wrong," the deadpan title of one O'Brien's chapters, could be the slogan for the class of 1969, gathered in July, July for their 40th reunion. There's drinking, dancing, and groping, but the cheer is false; what's real is divorce, addiction, dashed hopes, boredom, mental illness, and failing bodies. The revelers' dialogue is witty, but their youthful contempt for any sort of spirituality has not aged well. They seem shallow and, bereft even of their good looks, irrelevant. A few have children but take no pride in them. They have no social conscience. They aren't worried about global warming. In fact, there is little of interest to say about the reunion, but thankfully, O'Brien breaks off from the festivities to flesh out individual lives. There's the lonely senior center activities director in Tucson, whose repressed lust draws her into a mawkish but effective horror story south of the border. One of O'Brien's most attractive characters steps from the pages of his now classic The Things They Carried: a Vietnam vet--and amputee--who tries to silence the voices he hears with drugs. There's the bored suburban wife who flies away for an affair and then must deal with her lover's death; and the couple on their honeymoon, who hit a lucky streak at a casino, only to discover they aren't even slightly in love. In fact, July, July is a terrific story collection, but as a novel, while it is not exactly a failure, it disappoints. Maybe that's because the mirror O'Brien holds up to these folks in their fifties reveals only narcissists. --John Mort


Publisher's Weekly Review

Like The Big Chill, National Book Award winner O'Brien's latest novel is about a group of college students from the radical days of the late 1960s. Assembled years later, the friends and acquaintances go through the usual motions of reminiscing, regretting, lusting, laughing and crying. Unlike the gang from that 1983 movie, though, this group is not brought together to mourn the death of a mutual friend but rather a 30-year class reunion. Yet they're still mourning, lamenting their lost youth, vibrancy, ideals, looks and health. Among the ruins, however, they find old friends, common struggles and rekindled passions. Although this is more a group of interwoven short stories or character studies than a traditional novel, O'Brien (The Things They Carried) fully fleshes out each character with aplomb. Actor and experienced audiobook reader Sanders offers a smooth and knowing delivery. His cynical, dry, yet humorous tone perfectly matches O'Brien's prose. The surface of this comic tale seems jaded and despairing, but sympathy, camaraderie, solidarity and love run deeply throughout. Simultaneous release with the Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Forecasts, July 1). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The 30th reunion of Darton Hall College gives O'Brien the chance to play with a host of troubled characters. If you think you've seen this before, you're right: it was excerpted in The New Yorker and Esquire. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Class of 69 The reunion dance had started only an hour ago, but already a good many of the dancers were tipsy, and most others were well along, and now the gossip was flowing and confessions were under way and old flames were being extinguished and rekindled under cardboard stars in the Darton Hall College gymnasium. Amy Robinson was telling Jan Huebner, a former roommate, about the murder last year of Karen Burns, another former roommate. "Its such a Karen sort of thing," Amy said. "Getting killed like that. Nobody else. Only Karen." "Right," Jan said. She waited a moment. "Move your tongue, sugar. Details." Amy made a weary, dispirited movement with her shoulders. "Nothing new, Im afraid. Same old Karen story, naive as a valentine. Trust the world. Get squished." "Poor girl," Jan said. "Poor woman," said Amy. Jan winced and said, "Woman, corpse, whatever. Still single, I suppose? Karen?" "Naturally." "And some guy -?" "Naturally." "God," Jan said. "Yeah, yeah," said Amy. Earlier in the evening, they had liberated a bottle of Darton Hall vodka, which was now almost gone, and both of them were feeling the sting of strong spirits and misplaced sentiment. They were fifty-three years old. They were drunk. They were divorced. Time and heartbreak had exacted a toll. Amy Robinson still had her boyish figure, her button nose and freckles, but collegiate perkiness had been replaced by something taut and haggard. Jan Huebner had never been perky. Shed never been pretty, or cute, or even passable, and at the moment her bleached hair and plucked eyebrows and Midnight Plum lipstick offered only the most dubious correctives. "What I love about men," Jan was saying, "is their basic overall cockiness. That much I adore. Follow me?" "I do," said Amy. "Take away that, what the heck have you got?" "Youve got zero." "Ha!" said Jan. "Cheers," said Amy. "Pricks," said Jan. They fell quiet then, sipping vodka, watching the class of 69 rediscover itself on a polished gymnasium dance floor. Unofficially, this was a thirtieth reunion - one year tardy due to someones oversight, an irony that had been much discussed over cocktails that evening, and much joked about, though not yet entirely deciphered. Still, it made them feel special. And so, too, did the fact that they were convening on a deserted campus, in the heart of summer, more than a month after the standard graduation-day gatherings. The school had a forlorn, haunted feel to it, many memories, many ghosts, which seemed appropriate. "Well," Jan Huebner finally said. "Bad news, of course - Karens dead. But heres some good news. Gal never went through a divorce." "Thats a fact," said Amy. "I mean, ouch." "Ouch is accurate," Amy said. Jan nodded. "Twenty-nine years, almost thirty, and guess what? That slick ex-hubby of mine, Richard the Oily, he grins and waves at me and strolls out the door. Doesnt walk, doesnt run. Strolls. Talk about mu Excerpted from July, July: A Novel by Tim O'Brien All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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