An unapologetically manic and original novel about a drifter who heads for the Aleutian Islands in the 1980s.

Some Kind of Ending


Parks offers the postmodern adventures of an unlikely fisherman in this 20-year-old novel.

Bearing a 1995 copyright and set in President Ronald Reagan’s 1980s, the book erratically tells the story of a medley of down-and-out characters trying to earn some cash in the North Pacific fishing industry. Our hero (who, for a while, is simply known as “our hero”) wakes up in a field in Seattle, ready to live off the city’s accommodating hobo infrastructure. He soon learns that there’s money to be made farther north fishing the rough seas off the Aleutian Islands, where even vagabonds like him can find enough work to finance their debaucheries. But the riches of the sea attract other aimless wanderers: an assortment of characters (many similar to him) descends upon the Emerald City, looking for the American dream on the nation’s final, and quickly shrinking, frontier. The sea may seem a romantic place for a wayward soul, but the reality of the ocean proves to be something quite different. Chopped into shapeless chapters and illustrated with photocopied pictures reminiscent of self-published zines, the postmodern prose skips from image to image with little regard for readers’ comfort: “Heathens and carnies abounded everywhere, large dogs lounged casually, pool balls snapped back and forth at one another; a frenetic atmosphere was thus our hero inundated with.” The plot lurches forward with a drunken logic and an addict’s awareness of the passage of time. Its characters are drifters, hobos, sailors, transients: people for whom nothing matters so much as the next meal, high, or sexual encounter. Characters become difficult to distinguish, settings meld together, the point of view shifts without warning, and yet the writing dances on with such verve and loquacious joy that readers will be happy to keep turning the pages. This gonzo version of Moby-Dick turns out to be an engaging, idiosyncratic time capsule from the pre-Internet age: an era when the world, for both writers and tramps, was as expansive as they needed it to be.

An unapologetically manic and original novel about a drifter who heads for the Aleutian Islands in the 1980s. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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