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Universal Harvester (2017)

por John Darnielle

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9886121,243 (3.3)50
Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It's a small town in the center of the state-the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It's good enough for Jeremy: it's a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets-an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store-she has an odd complaint: "There's something on it," she says, but doesn't elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it's not defective, exactly, but altered: "There's another movie on this tape." Jeremy doesn't want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation-the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing- but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town. So begins John Darnielle's haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester: the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The audiobook will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain. This program is read by the author and includes original music.… (mais)
  1. 00
    The Last Days of Video por Jeremy Hawkins (sturlington)
    sturlington: These books are not at all alike except that they both feature small-town video stores, they are both by North Carolina writers, and they are both good reads.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 61 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
This book, much like its rural Iowa setting, is at once wide and, at points, empty. Darnielle has a story to tell, but from time to time, his story is muddied by a number of postmodern writing tricks and wandering descriptions of scenery. The story reads like a mystery, at times poking at the idea of horror, but I felt that Darnielle didn't allow for the intrigue and suspense to mature to a point that had me hungry for answers. Instead, he seemed to linger too long on clever images that detracted from the novel’s pace. Overall, Darnielle has a masterful control of words, even if a focus on what are powerful sentences and even paragraphs are not enough to bring me, as a reader, the emotional response that he brought me through his debut novel or the higher points of his songwriting. "Universal Harvester" is an enjoyable read, but I don't think it has the staying power that I had hoped for when I first cracked open the cover. ( )
  GDBrown | Feb 15, 2024 |
Not at all what I expected or wanted. ( )
  sweetimpact | Jan 18, 2024 |
As stated in other reviews, this book isn't what it seems. I was very disappointed by that, despite the excellent writing. It just left me with questions. So, so many questions. ( )
  Carnal.Butterfly | Jan 3, 2024 |
Not a horror novel but an attempt at a study of loss and grief with the superficial trappings of a horror novel. Which is fine, but it never wholly delivers on either. I read another review somewhere suggesting that Darnielle has too much compassion for his characters; it's true, he neither digs deep enough into the grime of their souls nor puts them through a convincing wringer. The result is a book that never quite earns its ominous atmosphere. ( )
  ethorwitz | Jan 3, 2024 |
Jeremy works at a video store in small town Iowa when customers begin returning videos complaining that strange footage has been spliced into the standard Hollywood movie they had rented. The inserted footage is different in each video, and is bizarre, dark and vaguely sinister. The scenes appear to be local, and Jeremy decides to investigate--who could have done this, and why?

And then, the narrative goes off in a few different unexpected directions. I remember vaguely liking this book, but also, vaguely, having problems with it. It seems to be a sort of literary thriller, and then it seems it's not. It was strange, but very readable. Some reviewers, including Oprah magazine, found it similar to David Lynch ("Twin Peaks"). I was in the end vaguely dissatisfied, because there doesn't seem to be much of a resolution of any of the issues raised, and I usually like my books neatly tied up by the end. But if this seems like something you would enjoy, it's well-written, and by all means go for it.

3 stars

ETA I see I've used iterations of the word "vague" a fair number of times in this review. Not sure if that means anything. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Nov 21, 2023 |
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People usually didn't say anything when they returned their tapes to the Video Hut: in a single and somewhat graceful movement, they'd approach the counter, slide the tape toward whoever was stationed behind the register, and wheel back toward the door.
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That’s what pictures are for, after all: to stand in place of the things that weren’t left behind, to bear witness to people and places and things that might otherwise go unnoticed.
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Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It's a small town in the center of the state-the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It's good enough for Jeremy: it's a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets-an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store-she has an odd complaint: "There's something on it," she says, but doesn't elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it's not defective, exactly, but altered: "There's another movie on this tape." Jeremy doesn't want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation-the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing- but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town. So begins John Darnielle's haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester: the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The audiobook will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain. This program is read by the author and includes original music.

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