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Bonk on the Head Paperback – Jun 24 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Nightwood; 1st Edition edition (June 24 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0889712042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0889712041
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #182,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Hemingway, Mailer, Joseph Heller, Tobias Wolff -- Americans have a long rich tradition of writing about the military, but very few Canadians have picked up the torch. John-James Ford tackles the mysteries of the military in stunning style, and reveals the rage, the sex, the hazing, the hatred, and the physical transformation of young recruits at Royal Military College. Bonk on the Head is a tour of duty and a tour de force.
--Mark Anthony Jarman

[An] assured, often disturbing debut ... Ford negotiates the labyrinth of emotions with prose that enters the mind ... simply and powerfully, like all the things it evokes: volcanic anger, sorrow, aching regret ... Ford couldn't be more attuned to the tragic potential in petty resentments and the inability to express love.
--Jim Bartley, The Globe and Mail

Using a manic, hilarious, and cheerfully vulgar style, Ford recounts the coming-of-age of Verbal Kempt, the son of a well-known army colonel and grandson of a D-Day veteran ... Bonk on the Head is entertaining. Ultimately, Verbal Kempt learns that the price of living up to the expectations of the Kernel is that he must, in effect, become him. Readers must decide for themselves whether he goes through with it.
--K. Gordon Neufeld, The Calgary Herald

With its combination of warmth, humour and brutal honesty, Bonk on the Head is just the book to shake CanLit from its safety harness.
--Chris Robinson, Ottawa XPress

Verbal Kempt is Holden Caufield for a new generation.
--Ottawa Life

... delves deeply into the reality of a military education and, as such, is a finely drawn, often unsettling book.
--Andrew Armitage, The Sun-Times

... [B]eautifully and fully written ... Bonk on the Head would be enjoyable to those interested in military tales but equally enjoyable to those who prefer tales of the psyche ... a pleasure to read.
--Sondra Fowler, Reader Views

...a finely drawn, often unsettling book.
--Andrew Armitage, The Sun Times

Ford, a Foreign Service Officer, spins a debut novel ripe with genuine humour and horror, detailing the sordid history of a dysfunctional family and the viciousness of Military College through the eyes of a young man ... But the honesty and wit of [main character Verbal Kempt's] inevitable self-destruction carries and engages throughout Bonk on the Head, leaving the reader lingering on the questions of what exactly is a good solider.
--Aaron Tucker, The Danforth Review

[A]t its best the writing is hilarious, vivid, and moves with an energetic narrative thrust that makes for compulsive reading.
--Ian Colford, The Fiddlehead

From the Inside Flap

"Hemingway, Mailer, Joseph Heller, Tobias Wolfe—Americans have a long rich tradition of writing about the military, but very few Canadians have picked up the torch. John Ford tackles the mysteries of the military in stunning style, and reveals the rage, the sex, the hazing, the hatred, and the physical transformation of young recruits at RMC. Bonk on the Head is a tour of duty and a tour de force." —Mark Anthony Jarman

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J D on March 12 2006
With all due respect to Mr. Kinsella, he's made a name for himself flouting the write-what-you-know maxim and flirting with cultural appropriation (Dance Me Outside, anyone?), as any first year Canadian literature student knows. It's bad reviewing to leave out the legitimate mentionables like first-novel, fine in-your-face writing and style, hip, knowing dialogue and an insider's knowledge of the subject matter. I suppose he alludes to that last one by saying it is worth reading for its indictment of RMC. But this book is more than that. Verbal's struggles seem real and for all his actions, there's so much inaction that is part of his inner turmoil. Parts of this book are laugh-out-loud funny, others turn-away-shame-faced embarrassment by proxy. That's how into Verbal's plight you'll find yourself. And as for any sense of hyperbole, ask around: RMC holds some dark tales. None of this book seemed outrageous. Bring on book 2! Where is Verbal going next?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. Zelmer on Feb. 27 2006
I can't wait to read more of John Ford's work. Bonk on the Head was a riveting read that succeeded in doing what all great literature should do......make one think!
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By Sweetslacks on April 17 2013
It had been years since a book has held my attention to the end.I was pleasantly surprised. I read this book while on vacation and could not wait to get back to it when I had to put it down.The voice of Verbal is so strong and real, I felt I was with him or at times living and breathing him.The descriptive narrative and depth of emotion so compelling and raw.I was drawn in within the first couple pages and could not come out until I put the book down. Finding myself reflecting on what I had read every time I had to get back to "reality".A book like this needs to be read.I laughed out loud at times , found myself shocked,at times uncomfortable, angry and grief stricken...My emotions were bubbling to the surface, amazed the author was able to provoke such strong reaction with his words.
This book is a "tour de force" as said in review, it is a must read, and should have been more widely acclaimed.This is a hidden gem.Cannot wait to see what this author does next.Can I pre- order now?
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