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Elysiana

por Chris Knopf

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5421485,699 (3.02)10
Gwendalynn Anders, a mid western girl who's never seen the ocean, wonders what was in that joint she smoked a week before waking up on Elysiana and why it feels like the trip will last the entire summer of 1969. Jack Halcyon, living atop an abandoned twenty-story hotel, wonders how he's able to ponder the incongruities of life after leaving a big chunk of his brain at the scene of an accident. Borough Council President Norman Harlan wonders what cruel God put him on an equal footing with Avery Volpe, the fearsome captain of the beach patrol. Twelve miles long and a mile wide, Elysiana is an island off the coast of New Jersey sitting astride the convergence of powerful fault lines, social, political, and existential. It's a place of beauty and insanity, shared by the angelic and profane, where cops, criminals, prodigies, and the promiscuous find themselves at the haphazard mercy of a lunatic providence. Other players include a globe-trotting whiz kid, an Italo-Hispanic crime boss, a surfing aesthete and his vulgar roommate, a career car-stereo thief, and a seven-year-old girl who's probably spent too much time with the dead bodies in the dunes. This is a story that could have only happened on the Jersey Shore during the summer of '69, a time when the social fabric was tearing apart, in a place where that fabric had never been very well knit together. Elysiana is both a fabulist's look at a lost time and place and a hurtling thriller. It's a tale of two types of transition: the personal and the grand, all played out within the isolated magic of a barrier island.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 21 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I don't know what to think. It says "thriller" on the jacket, but didn't exactly have the break-neck pace I usually associate with thrillers. It meandered quite a bit. All of the characters were quirky. The two the author expects you to root for live relatively happily ever after. I did like Jack's musings on what it was like to be in a coma and come out of it. ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
The blurb on the back cover of this bound galley intrigued me: "...both a hurtling thriller and postmodernist jaunt through the summer of 1969..." After making a valiant effort (I put it down and came back to it three times), I'm here to tell you this novel may be postmodern, whatever that may mean, but it is definitely not hurtling, and not a thriller.

Let me tell you the good things. The novel opens with great promise and one of the best introductions to a character I've ever read: Gwendalynn's arrival in the coastal community of Elysiana, a semi-conscious passenger in the back of a convertible, flashing the truckers as she comes down from a three-day high. I liked her right off the bat. Sadly, she is one of only three characters I actually gave a damn about. The other two were Sweetie, a charming and independent 10-year-old with a penchant for wandering; and Jack, a coma survivor who lives in the rundown grand hotel once run by his family. Everyone else inhabiting this fictional island either annoyed the fire out of me, or engendered great dislike, or both. I can read a story when a couple/three characters are actively unpleasant, but a novel peopled almost entirely with folks I can't stand? Not happening.

It's too bad, too, because Chris Knopf can turn a phrase. He has a good ear for dialogue, like the following exchange:

"I have everything I need in my backpack."
"Do you have cruelty in there?"
"I have a horsehair shaving brush in the pack. It was cruel to take it from the horse."

Knopf's flair for description can make you hear the squabbling seagulls and feel the ocean breeze. Ultimately, though, he failed to keep my interest. At the end of chapter 9, at 118 pages, I still didn't know what this story was about and didn't care enough about the characters to keep reading and find out.

Regardless of my apathetic reaction to the novel itself, I appreciate The Permanent Press and LibraryThing's Early Reviewers giving me the opportunity to try a new author.

And the cover art is gorgeous. ( )
  avanta7 | Oct 25, 2010 |
The novel Elysiana is about the eponymous barrier island off the coast of South Jersey. Chris Knopf, known for the Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery novels, has written a self-contained novel set in the summer of 1969. It begins with Midwestern girl Gwendolynn Anders suffering a bad drug trip. Time loses coherence as Gwendolynn experiences memories and flashbacks, seeing herself at a party, and then finding herself in the back of car. She gradually regains control of her mental faculties and then realizes she is on Elysiana. The island, only twenty-five miles long and a mile wide, presents a microcosm of life. Following the temporal disorientation of Gwendolynn’s bad trip, the reader is introduced to other characters populating the tiny island.

Knopf fills the island with villains and oddballs. At the beginning, the characters seem more like an accumulation of quirks. Avery Volpe is the hard-as-nails captain of the beach patrol. Norm Harlan is the chubby wannabe authoritarian working as the borough president. Convinced of American moral decline, he is on a crusade to eradicate the island’s hippies and to gain more power. As the novel’s plot progresses, we find out how far Norm is willing to go to concentrate power in his hands. Gwendolynn meets Norm, his flighty wife Paula, and his daughter Sweetie who constantly gets lost. Due to Sweetie’s penchant for wandering off, the Harlans hire Gwendolynn as their au pair. Despite the cloying name, Sweetie remains of the few child characters that is not annoying or a caricature of cuteness. For living arrangements, Gwendolynn ends up staying with Jack Halycon, a brain-damaged oddball living in the Imperial Hotel. Both Halycon and the Imperial Hotel sport fascinating back-stories that tie into the labyrinthine relationships tying together the small island community.

Characters develop from quirky caricatures into fully formed beings when the plot begins to click into action. Classified as both a thriller and a fable, Knopf weaves a tale that involves power plays, bureaucratic in-fighting, and drug-running. Throwaway lines yield clues to bigger conspiracies. Norm Harlan, with the help of the Elysiana Police, sets himself on a mad quest to discover the big suppliers to the drug runners soiling his fine island. A mysterious female complicates the life of a lifeguard, finding himself in the crossfire between Avery Volpe’s love and Norm Harlan’s quest for political domination.

Setting the novel in the Sixties allows for a certain level of looseness, unexpected in a book billing itself as a thriller. However, the looseness provides room for the various relationships, personal and institutional, to slowly gel or fragment. The novel is reminiscent of early work by Tom Robbins, before his work devolved into cuteness and monotonous whimsy. It can be appreciated by those looking for a fun read and those looking for an innovative approach to the thriller genre.

http://driftlessareareview.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/elysiana-by-chris-knopf/ ( )
  kswolff | Sep 9, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
Set in the fictional resort town of Elysiana, New Jersey in 1969. Part mystery, part coming of age novel, Knopf has delivered a cast of characters that kept me engaged and a setting that felt like I've been there hundreds of times (being a yearly Jersey Shore vacationer). This is the first book I've read of his, but I will surely seek out more in the future. ( )
  Dutchfan | Jul 11, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
This is an early reviewer book. I liked several things about this book. The characters were quirky and while some were somewhat stereotypical, several were well-drawn and interesting and I cared about them. They were put in danger but not randomly disposed of, and there were very human interactions. Again these were mixed in with other totally cardboard ones. It seemed like he took some characters that he cared about and plopped them into a cardboard world.

There were a lot of characters and it was a little hard to remember some of them. The guy who is kind of a deus ex machina, who shows up and rescues people we care about & turns out to have a surprising connection, was introduced early in the book & then I don't think he reappeared for a long time & by then I kinda forgot who he was.

I would read this guys mystery series if I was reading mystery series books right now.
  franoscar | Jun 3, 2010 |
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Gwendalynn Anders, a mid western girl who's never seen the ocean, wonders what was in that joint she smoked a week before waking up on Elysiana and why it feels like the trip will last the entire summer of 1969. Jack Halcyon, living atop an abandoned twenty-story hotel, wonders how he's able to ponder the incongruities of life after leaving a big chunk of his brain at the scene of an accident. Borough Council President Norman Harlan wonders what cruel God put him on an equal footing with Avery Volpe, the fearsome captain of the beach patrol. Twelve miles long and a mile wide, Elysiana is an island off the coast of New Jersey sitting astride the convergence of powerful fault lines, social, political, and existential. It's a place of beauty and insanity, shared by the angelic and profane, where cops, criminals, prodigies, and the promiscuous find themselves at the haphazard mercy of a lunatic providence. Other players include a globe-trotting whiz kid, an Italo-Hispanic crime boss, a surfing aesthete and his vulgar roommate, a career car-stereo thief, and a seven-year-old girl who's probably spent too much time with the dead bodies in the dunes. This is a story that could have only happened on the Jersey Shore during the summer of '69, a time when the social fabric was tearing apart, in a place where that fabric had never been very well knit together. Elysiana is both a fabulist's look at a lost time and place and a hurtling thriller. It's a tale of two types of transition: the personal and the grand, all played out within the isolated magic of a barrier island.

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