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Deadwood [Paperback]

Pete Dexter
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 12 2005 Vintage Contemporaries
DEADWOOD, DAKOTA TERRITORIES, 1876: Legendary gunman Wild Bill Hickcock and his friend Charlie Utter have come to the Black Hills town of Deadwood fresh from Cheyenne, fleeing an ungrateful populace. Bill, aging and sick but still able to best any man in a fair gunfight, just wants to be left alone to drink and play cards. But in this town of played-out miners, bounty hunters, upstairs girls, Chinese immigrants, and various other entrepeneurs and miscreants, he finds himself pursued by a vicious sheriff, a perverse whore man bent on revenge, and a besotted Calamity Jane. Fueled by liquor, sex, and violence, this is the real wild west, unlike anything portrayed in the dime novels that first told its story.

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From Library Journal

In 1876 William "[Buffalo] Bill" [Hickok] and Charley Utter rode into Deadwood, a hellish frontier settlement in the Black Hills. Bill died there, victim of a possibly demented assassin. Fortunately, this is mostly the story of his constant companion, Charley, a man of sapient insight and, though less famous than his friend, of extensive and varied experience. Charley, Bill, their acquaintance the Bottle Fiend, and later Bill's widow Agnes and mourner Calamity Jane saw some remarkable things in Deadwood and raised considerable Cain. By turns heroic, ludicrous, vicious, pathetic, and infuriating, the exotic citizens of Deadwood grab the reader's interest immediately and never let go. Highly recommended for its deadpan, offbeat, credible frontier anarchy. Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army TRALINET Ctr., Fort Monroe, Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“If you want to call Deadwood a Western, you might as well call The House of Mirth chick lit. Dexter looked at the dark, twisted, ridiculous doings of Bill Hickok and company, said to himself, ‘I recognize that! and gave us a world-class entertainment.” —Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections“Unpredictable, hyperbolic and, page after page, uproarious; a joshing book written in high spirits and a raw appreciation of the past.” --The New York Times Book Review“Splendid. . . . Rumor put straight. . . . A carefully researched knitting of events into their most dazzling fabric.” --The Philadelphia InquirerDeadwood may well be the best western ever written.” —The Washington Post Book World"What deepens and darkens [Dexter's] writing, so that art is the precise word to describe it, is a powerful understanding that character rules, that we live with our weaknesses and die of our strengths." --Time"Dexter is a master of colloquial poetry, of moods revealed through gestures and settings." --Playboy "One of the greatest American writers... a storyteller who cuts straight to the nerve." --Scott L. Turow"Dexter's strongest suit is his exquisite understanding of the finely meshed engines of greed, appetite, and interest." --The New York Times Book Review"Great, eccentric characters....Dexter's writing is a living thing." --USA Today

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I read this book after becoming interested in Deadwood via HBO's series of that name. Since Deadwood is a real place, and since both the book and the television series are based on the real place, many of the characters are common to both. They do not, however, have much more in common besides their names and some shared historic events. Pete Dexter is a fine writer, and in Deadwood he has written a particularly fine novel. Much of the novel centers on the relationship between Wild Bill and his friend Charlie Utter. Other characters whose stories are explored include Charlie's friend, the soft-brained, Bottle Fiend, Wild Bill's widow Agnes Lake, Sheriff Seth Bullock and his partner Sol Star, a beautiful and tragic Chinese singer and prostitute named China Doll, and the always surprising Calamity Jane. Well worth reading, whether or not you like Deadwood, the TV series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate, with beautifully drawn characters Nov. 11 2008
Dexter's ability to marry character and language is delightful. He is one of those rare writers who can portray deep emotion without slipping into the sentimental. Yes, the book might be subtitled, "Camp Crusty" due to profanity and sexual content, but it's also extremely funny and full of compassion. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Weak eyes and pink gin Dec 1 2001
A great book. It gives such a human dimension to Wild Bill--his blindness at dawn or dusk, his troublesome prostate problems, and his obscession with pink gin. His murder is not the true focus of the book. It is his character, and that of his assassin and Calamidy Jane. It was really good to visit the man behind the myth. In his last days at the No.10 saloon. A very well written book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pin Drop May 13 2001
... How come the Wild West is so ...calm in this novel, you ask? Simple. Dexter chooses Charlie Utter as the central character, Bill Hickok's stoic, aloof partner, and it is he and his restrained wit that serves as backbone to this wonderful novel.
The book is split into four parts: Bill, The China Doll (a beautiful Chinese ..), Agnes (Lake, Bill’s wife), and Jane (Calamity). Bill is gone by the end of his section, which surprised me because I thought this book was about Wild Bill. It is and it isn’t. He isn’t physically around after the first part, but his legend is everywhere, and it runs through the book.
I’ve read Paris Trout and Brotherly Love from Pete Dexter before, and enjoyed this one the most, for it is the funniest. Sometimes it’s ha-ha funny; other times it’s more reflective. It’s a fine book, one that makes me wish Dexter will go back to novel writing soon.
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Dexter makes an 1870's frontier mining town come alive. His cast of hapless and miscreant characters are a hoot. You'll certainly enjoy your visit to Deadwood!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pete Dexter's Best? May 23 2000
If you're a fan of Pete Dexter you've no doubt read everything the man has written. However, if you are unfamiliar with this superb writer and in dire need of something with more substance than your average N.Y Times bestseller list fare, please jump in. Regardless of whether you're a "western" aficinado or not this is a stunning work. Mr. Dexter's abilities with language and character place him in the highest echelon of current authors. If someone (Mr. D.?) could lovingly transcribe this into a multi-part television movie a la "Lonesome Dove" I could die happy.
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