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Riven Rock Paperback – Jan 25 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (Jan. 25 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780140271669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140271669
  • ASIN: 014027166X
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #572,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
How his hand came into contact with her face-her sweet plump irritating little burr of a wifely face that found a place beside his each night on the connubial pillow-was as much a mystery to O'Kane as the scalloped shell of the sky and the rain that fell a Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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By BethDeHart on March 9 2005
Format: Paperback
RIVEN ROCK is not like anything you've ever read, but I'll attempt to relate it to something for the purposes of getting the point across. This book was a strange one. I couldn't help but think of Katherine Dunn as I was making my way through it. Although Boyle's theatrical restraint is much more developed than Ms. Dunn's. Its story of Stanley McCormick slowly going bananas isn't really all there is to it. He contrasts the themes of loyalty and infidelity, both taken to the extreme. I waited for a resolution or for a didactic ending, but it never came. I enjoyed this book. Great writing, great themes, and great execution, just like the writing of Jackson McCrae. Also would highly recommend McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER or the new collection by Munro titled RUNAWAY.
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Format: Paperback
If it were not for "having" to read it for bookclub, I never would have picked this downer book up..... and still wished that I did not!
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Format: Paperback
This book is a little slow to read but very well written. If you have ever worked in a psychiatric hospital, you will enjoy this book.
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By A Customer on June 13 2003
Format: Paperback
I had read "The Tortilla Curtain" with my book group and was intrigued by T.C. Boyle's style of writing. Riven Rock was such an adventure into the strange world and lives of the Stanley McCormick family. I loved how he wove two historical figures into this fictional story full of such a range of emotions. This book kept me totally captivated. I enjoyed each character and can't wait to read "The Road to Wellville" next!
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Format: Paperback
This story is not at all a quick read. This story has to be savoured, because it accomodates so much descriptive detail - both about characters and physical places or objects. But everything is carried out in a very quiet way. I mean, that the reader gets to know and absorb the beings along the book. Beings that ihabit various environments throghout their time, this also being layered in an absolutely natural way. The reader never gets the feeling, that Boyle wants to go a determined path. It just happens - and suddenly you notice you have been transported in some direction. And you accept it and you are glad. The wohle book is the evidence of this dexterity. It starts, where it should start and ends how it should end - full stop No redundancy in anything at all, related to the developement of the story. Boyles manner and style suits the contents perfecly well.
For me this capability is the synonim to rich writing.
About the story:
Reading other reviews or the publishers note is enough to be acquainted to the main idea. So I will skip the resumee and leap to make reference to the relationship between Stanley McCormick and his head nurse Eddie O`Kane.
For me the bondage between the two is the most fascinating aspect of the entire book. Stanley is cathatonic. And Eddie? If he is not, he certainly leads a similar life. Not in the pathological way, but in its contents. And perhaps,in order to understand Mr. McCormick, the only possibility you have, is to become as close to cathatonic as you can get and as Eddie does and did, profoundly, in the end.
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By Don E. Smith on March 21 2003
Format: Paperback
TC Boyle is my favorite author and Riven Rock was the only book of his I had not read (including his short story collections). I was very dissapointed in this work of his. There are no characters to which I was drawn, and it was one of the least compelling plots (was there one?) I have ever read. Great author -- terrible book.
Tortilla Curtain or Water Music would be much better choices.
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Format: Paperback
...[this book is] More about the absence of love, or all the spaces that people call love. Does Katherine really love Stanley just because she stayed married to him through all his years in the institution? She loves her companion Jane. She had something to prove to Stanley, or to his family. If you look at Katherine the book is somehow about frustration or misdirection, but certainly not about love.
Male sexuality? I certainly hope (being a heterosexual woman) that the book isn't about male sexuality. I don't believe that all women are frigid, castrating and repressive. And I don't believe that all men are aggressive, bestial and nasty. ...I suppose if this book, for me, was about anything it's about a kind of layer that people have between their feelings and their essential selves. In Stanley that layer was madness. In O'Kane it a kind of avoidance and obtuseness. In Katherine it's a dedication to causes that seems to replace any real awareness of self.
So what's well-written about this book? It's smart about people. Smart about history. It's textured and vivid and everything a book should be.
So what don't I like about it? It's grotty, somehow. I don't like the picture that it painted of people-- the dirt and the violence. There's no redemption here. ...
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Format: Paperback
3 and a half stars...
What is most interesting about Boyle's book, like "The Road to Wellville" is that it is based on true people in America's past. This particular foray into the past is about the mentally unbalanced son of the McCormick reaper fortune, whose illness pivots around his inability to get along in society with those of the opposite gender. Between his overbearing mother and his equally unbalanced and revealing older sister, Stanley's ideas of women are odd, to say the least.
While I read the book, I felt an urge to look up Stanley McCormick in the history books and find out how much is true about him. He is, however a rather flat character. Yet, Stanley's longtime nurse, Eddie O'Kane, who follows his wealthy employer to California, the land of promise, of orange groves, of unlimited wealth (supposedly), is a much more interesting character. We are allowed to see inside Eddie's thoughts and are privy to his equally distorted views of women's place in the world.
Boyle layers his novel in three overlapping and related narratives. First, there is the most "current" storyline, which begins with Stanley's departure from the east coast to the secluded family mansion ("Riven Rock") of Santa Barbara, California. This story unfolds before us, telling of the various doctors employed by Katherine, Stanley's still-young wife, who so badly wants to see her new husband well again, although to say "again" suggests that she has ever truly witnessed him in a sustained state of mental wellness.
Then, within this main storyline, is the background of the early years of Stanley and the unconventional courtship between himself and Katherine.
Finally, throughout the novel, including the first scene, we see events through O'Kane's eyes.
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