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The Lost Highway Hardcover – Nov 20 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 1st Edition edition (Nov. 20 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385664966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385664967
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #793,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Prize-winning Canadian author Richards (The Friends of Meager Fortune) spins a sad, thoughtful tale around Alex Chapman, a community-college ethics teacher living in a small Canadian town of English- and French-speaking whites and Micmac Indians. Alex's lifelong feud with his tyrannical great-uncle James drives him to desperation. At the opening of the novel, James has lost his paving business. He asks Alex to take his truck in to have the oil changed; Alex refuses. James vows that Alex won't inherit, and Alex is furious, though in fact it is he who contrived to make his uncle lose his biggest contract. When the mechanic, a simple man named Burton, gives James a lottery ticket worth thirteen million dollars, Alex decides to steal it. He blames his uncle for an old humiliation that caused him to refuse to admit his feelings for Minnie, the soft-spoken girl who loved him. The novel draws on a number of different perspectives including Burton, Minnie's daughter, Amy, and Leo Bourque, the schoolmate who bullied Alex when he was a child. Richards goes to unnecessary lengths to explain his characters' motivations, and this slows the narrative pace considerably. Still, the novel presents complicated ethical dilemmas and offers sharp insights into complex emotional motives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2007

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 16 2009
Format: Paperback
In "Lost Highway", the Acadian writer, David Adams Richards, has written a captivating story about interfamilial strife in the Mirachimi region of New Brunswick. There seems to be an uncanny parallel between this novel and Thomas Hardy's Wessex novels such as "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" and "Jude the Obscure", where the main characters are locked in a never-ending struggle with their consciences and their fellow beings. Richards' tale, as stated in other reviews, can be reduced to a basic plotline where Alex Chapman, an orphan, has gone to live with a cruel great-uncle who treats him in a demeaning and heartless fashion. By the time Alex reaches manhood, he is one very confused and maligned character, torn between wanting to do good by living an ethical life and fighting the demons of his past: sexual impotence, poor self-image, and the need for revenge. The hatred that Alex bears towards his relative, James Chapman, becomes the driving force of his life and works it out in a sinister plot to do him out of a large lottery winning. Even with all his formal religious training as a priest, Alex will still succumb to the forces of evil because he has conveniently learned to use it as a means of making things supposedly better in his life, and his friends and relatives know it. His newly acquired grasp of Aristotelian morals is no match for the wiliness and greed of the malevolent Leo. Besides presenting some interesting moral dilemmas in this novel, Richards provides a very colorful description of Arcadian culture that portrays the region as somewhat rustic, impoverished, backward, and quite isolated from the normal world of circumstantial ethics. But that innocence will change very quickly as the sophisticate Alex hatches his artful plans. "Lost Highway" is a story that certainly has as much to say about the complexities of culture as it does about he distortions of human behaviour under the worst of circumstances.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coach C TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 21 2008
Format: Paperback
A decent mystery thriller by David Adams Richards. If you've watched the film "A Simple Plan" with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, the plot for "The Lost Highway" is strikingly similar. Instead of a bag full or cash though, it's a $13 million lotto ticket.

The best part of the book is the character development. The protagonist is a fellow by the name of Alex Chapman. Richards does a great job showing us the dichotomous nature of Alex. He is an ethics professor who has a fetish for Stalin. He is kicked out of the Seminary because he steals. He is supposed to be the intellectual but is outsmarted by his loser friend Leo Bourque. The auxiliary characters in Minnie, Amy, Burton, James, and Markus Paul are all interesting and add a lot to the development of the story.

I think the plot starts out well, but gets strung out in the last third of the book when Markus is chasing down the mystery. Richards gets bogged down in the logistics of explaining who goes where and who does what and his characters flatline in their drama and development. I would've preferred if Richards simply cut out the twists and turns and got straight to the point and finished the book with more depth.

Overall, I think the book is a decent mystery thriller. It's not a gem, but certainly a good read for an afternoon or two.
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Format: Paperback
I count DAR's Mercy Among the Children as one of my top reads ever, so it's with grief I report just how excruciatingly heavy-handed and boring this novel is. While I appreciate the careful development of character, the meandering plot and page-by-page obsessing by Alex Chapman over his goodness versus every damn evil in the world was just TOO. MUCH. You might have to take a Xanax to get through this steaming heap.

Anyway, not good. Skip it. Do something worthwhile with your time, like reading Mercy Among the Children. Or playing the lotto.
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