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The Cold Millions: A Novel por Jess Walter
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The Cold Millions: A Novel (edição 2020)

por Jess Walter (Autor)

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2712073,102 (4.29)32
"Orphans Gig and Rye Dolan don't have a penny to their names. The brothers work grueling, odd jobs each day just to secure a meal, and spend nights sleeping wherever they can with other day laborers. Twenty-three-year-old Gig is a passionate union man, fighting for fair pay and calling out the corrupt employers who exploit the working class. Eager to emulate his older brother, Rye follows suit, though he can't quite muster Gig's passion for the cause. But when Rye's turn on the soap box catches the eye of well-known activist and suffragette Elizabeth Gurley, he is swept into the world of labor activism-and dirty business. With his brother's life on the line, Rye must evade the barbaric police force, maneuver his way out of the clutches of a wealthy businessman-and figure out for himself what he truly stands for. The Cold Millions is a stunning portrait of class division and familial bonds. In this masterful historical take on the enduring saga of America's economic divide, Jess Walter delivers nothing less than another "literary miracle" (NPR)"--… (mais)
Membro:whitefieldpl
Título:The Cold Millions: A Novel
Autores:Jess Walter (Autor)
Informação:Harper (2020), Edition: 1st, 352 pages
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The Cold Millions por Jess Walter

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After reading Jess Walter’s newest novel, The Cold Millions, you will not be surprised to learn that he lives in Spokane, Washington and knows well its rich labor history. This book has an engaging and clever story, some wildly colorful characters, and it all moves through Spokane’s oftentimes violent labor history of the early 1900s. This was when the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies to many) flooded the streets—and eventually the jails—in an attempt to break a corrupt system of kickbacks between employment agencies and crew bosses, a system where everyone fed like hogs at the trough of graft, while workers got rough jobs for a short time.

The novel’s characters use every larger-than-life nuance of that word character. The Dolan brothers, Gig and Rye, come from Montana and are very different from each other. The sixteen-year-old Rye is looking for a steady income and a home as he figures out who he is. The older brother, Gig, chases women, enjoys the tenderloin district, while also fighting for union men getting a fair shake, as they battle the corrupt police and the big money controlling things from behind the scenes. Gig has read just enough Nietzsche and Rousseau to be dangerous.

When the two brothers are arrested, Rye’s young age becomes public knowledge, and efforts are made to eventually free him. Along the way, Rye becomes drawn to a nineteen-year-old feminist and activist, the fearless Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who butts heads with most everyone and got him freed. (Flynn was an actual rabblerousing historic figure, a communist, and eventually one of the founders of the A.C.L.U.) There’s also the dramatic Ursula the Great who’s a vaudeville singer who performs with a cougar in a cage. I loved the side story of how the once-ferocious bear she once performed with ruined the act when it fell in love with Ursula. Ursula introduces the brothers to something much more dangerous than her cougar, a mining magnate who’s got his fingers into everything. One last character, Del Dalveaux, is a detective working for that magnate, and Walter cleverly weaves him throughout the storyline.

The book is about conflict and the harder edge of life. Sullivan, the head of the police, is a major factor when it comes to knocking heads together and attempting to keep things from constantly boiling over and threatening the status quo, as the working man and the moneyed interests are battling. Though certainly not original, a question that really struck me in this book of magnates, socialists, communists, corruption, and idealists, was the following question. Is it enough to win the occasional battle, even if you cannot win the war? Social progress is always frustrating, but it’s fundamental to what many of us aspire to be.

With this book, Walter has blended actual historical events and people with his novel, and it’s a curious work. I don’t mean the fictional side is shortchanged whatsoever, the novel’s characters are completely fleshed out and very engaging as they struggle with their lives. Though I’ve always been drawn to stories of class warfare, I found myself split between the loves and losses of the main characters, and the history itself, but the ending was both very clever and stunning. Altogether, this novel wasn’t as satisfying as his previous novel, Beautiful Ruins, was to me, but very few books are. ( )
  jphamilton | Feb 25, 2021 |
“All people, except this rich cream, living and scraping and fighting and dying, and for what, nothing, the cold millions with no chance in this world.”

The Cold Millions is a sweeping historical novel set at the beginning of the labor union movement in Spokane, Washington, focusing on two brothers, Gregory and Ryan Dolan. At 21, Gig is a charming, surprisingly articulate young man, Rye, only 16, is his brother’s shadow. Orphaned, they have joined the mass of itinerant workers, tramps riding the freight trains in search of work where they can find it. While Rye’s one wish is simple - a job, a home, a family; Gig gets wrapped up in the energy and chaos of the Free Speech Riots as The Industrial Workers of the World, aka Wobblies, fight for change. When the brothers are arrested during a riot, their paths diverge. While Gig endures a brutal incarceration, Rye is quickly released and is determined to free his brother. Soon he too is bound up in the cause, and is courted by a man set on stopping it.

Told with acumen, compassion, wit, and a hint of nostalgia, this story is ambitious in scope. Walter explores a dramatic period of social change and its issues - wealth vs poverty, ownership vs labour, rights vs responsibilities, nationalists vs immigrants, arguments that have still not been resolved in the US a century later. Yet this is also a coming-of-age story, an intimate tale of brotherhood, love, friendship, loyalty and betrayal, and even a murder mystery.

While Rye is the story’s anchor, there is a large cast of characters. Walter draws real historical figures into the novel including Police Chief John T. Sullivan who was a strict enforcer of law, and a vigorous defender of Spokane against the Wobblies, and their activities; the ‘redoubtable, estimable, formidable’ Elizabeth Gurley Flynn a young activist and orator, and takes inspiration from others to create a distinct, colourful cast. Brief vignettes from the perspectives of people who cross paths with the brothers interrupt the linear narrative, but also enrich it.

I feel Walters has been influenced by several classic American novels, particularly those by John Steinbeck, and perhaps Mark Twain and others, with similarities found in themes and characters.

While I don’t feel the connection with the history in the way an American might, The Cold Millions is an entertaining, fascinating, and unexpectedly timely novel. ( )
  shelleyraec | Feb 25, 2021 |
Wobblies in Washington
Review of the Harper Books hardcover edition (Oct. 2020)

The Cold Millions is an epic family saga that mostly takes place in the years 1909-1911 in Spokane, Washington State, USA. That time period may sound limiting for an 'epic', but there is a closing epilogue that takes it much further into the 20th century.

The story centres around the brother duo of Gig and Ryan Dolan, two orphaned Irish immigrant sons on the tramp in the western United States. 24-year old elder brother Gig is bedeviled by his wandering ways and a predilection for alcohol. 16-year-old Ryan is protective of his brother and hopes to somehow make a life for them both. The brothers are swept up in the Spokane Free Speech Movement in November 1909 organized by the Industrial Workers of the World, also known by their nickname The Wobblies.

Author Jess Walter does an excellent job of incorporating the true-life story of the Wobblies in Washington and introduces several fictionalized real-life characters into the plot, with the teenaged worker organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn chief among them. Various fictional mining millionaires, police, wobblies, detectives and anarchists fill in the cast. There is a major plot twist about half-way through which turns things quite murderous and suspenseful.

I read The Cold Millions as part of a Book of the Month subscription to Parnassus Books First Editions Club. My continued thanks to Liisa, Martin and family for that excellent gift! ( )
  alanteder | Feb 7, 2021 |
The writing was fine, but I didn't care for the storytelling approach, given some characters are historical figures. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Jan 19, 2021 |
Jess Walter is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of his books and he never fails to entertain. His prose is excellent, he creates memorable characters, and he does it in a page turning manner. In this book you can add historical fiction. Walter, who is from Spokane , uses the 1909 free speech labor riots in Spokane as the back drop to the novel. The main characters are Rye and Gig Dolan(16 and 24 year olds) who are orphans from Montana who go from town to town living the hobo, day laborer life. The story shows them caught up in the riots. Walter creates great characters: crooked politicians, good and bad police, rich owners, labor leaders and great minor characters real and fiction. One the main real characters is Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a 19 year old firebrand who works hard to expose corruption and try to help the plight of the exploited workers. She actually ended up founding the ACLU and was part of the labor movement for her entire life. Walter brings her to life with his portrayal. You really are able to connect with the plight of people in those times and many of the issues we are currently facing in 2021 were on display in Spokane in 1909. A great way to learn about an area of history that we need to know more about as we consider what kind of society we want in our country. If you have never read a book by Walter then this is a great place to start. ( )
1 vote nivramkoorb | Jan 17, 2021 |
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"Orphans Gig and Rye Dolan don't have a penny to their names. The brothers work grueling, odd jobs each day just to secure a meal, and spend nights sleeping wherever they can with other day laborers. Twenty-three-year-old Gig is a passionate union man, fighting for fair pay and calling out the corrupt employers who exploit the working class. Eager to emulate his older brother, Rye follows suit, though he can't quite muster Gig's passion for the cause. But when Rye's turn on the soap box catches the eye of well-known activist and suffragette Elizabeth Gurley, he is swept into the world of labor activism-and dirty business. With his brother's life on the line, Rye must evade the barbaric police force, maneuver his way out of the clutches of a wealthy businessman-and figure out for himself what he truly stands for. The Cold Millions is a stunning portrait of class division and familial bonds. In this masterful historical take on the enduring saga of America's economic divide, Jess Walter delivers nothing less than another "literary miracle" (NPR)"--

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