Reviews - What do customers think about Lucky Strike?
Carnival of Souls Sep 20, 2006
Feisty little Unbridled Books comes back with another winner, while readers share in the take.
Reading one of Unbridled Books is a political act all by itself for it is our way of saying, We will no longer bow down to the dictates of what New York publishing think we should be spoonfed. Instead it is an experiment in pure regionalism, with several fine books published each season--books you will never see on the New York Times Bestseller list, but which nevertheless get passed on, "hand-sold," by discriminating booksellers and reading guilds. Nancy Zafris must be used to being shelved on the very bottom shelf at the bookstore, but among savvy readers her name belongs high on the list of the very best non-New York writers. This book, set in the so-called "radium rush" of the 1950s, when people actually believed in a safer future through uranium, is a cunning period piece that manages to have a few things to say about our own world.
Zafris knows how to tell a story, not only through such obvious things as characterization, colorful names for all of her people, and quirky trademarks, so that you can instantly identify who's saying what thing without a "tag," but also by more subtle devices such as setting up triangular structures of conflict and engagement. Here, the story wouldn't have been half as gripping if Jean had gone into the desert with just one of her two children, Beth or Charlie, but she needed two so that the situation of the "family romance" can replicate itself: the heart of fiction.
Look for triangles everywhere in Zafris' work: people being torn between two things, such as, the need for a permanent home versus the lure of the open road; the promise of wealth versus the honesty of healthy poverty. The right and the wrong: how does the individual see himself (or herself) within this disparity. Zafris, fiction editor of the long-running, and originally Agrarian, literary magazine THE KENYON REVIEW, had a lock on insight. The woman who sold me this book said it was reminiscent of Billy Wilder's 1950s noir masterpiece ACE IN THE HOLE with Kirk Douglas, and you know what? She didn't steer me wrong. But it has more of a heart, too, and the characters are not all evil, but mixed, like in real life outside of New York.
Awful Aug 18, 2006
After reading the rave reviews on Lucky Strike I couldn't wait to start reading it. I was very dissappointed. I did not like the writing style. The story was boring. The characters were unlikable.
Fine fine writing Sep 19, 2005
This novel is equally satisfying intellectually and emotionally because Nancy Zafris, unlike many novelists, thinks as intensely and as powerfully as she feels. Through her unusual balance of intellectual rigor and emotional generosity, her equal respect for thought and feeling and how they interact in ever-surprising ways, she creates a tone that is deeply felt, intellectually exciting, and funny. But her greatest achievement is the way her prose recreates the movement of the mind, again both intellectually and emotionally. The success with which she captures the subtle, unexpected--and instantaneous--ways our minds move through thought and feeling makes you stop as a reader and go back over choice passages in wonder, asking yourself, "How did she do that?" All of which adds up to a satisfying, stimulating, wholly entertaining read. Zafris has moved artistically beyond what was an exciting first novel, offering the prospect of a very promising career--one well worth watching and enjoying for anyone who values fine writing.
Odd, lovable people May 15, 2005
As she did in "The Metal Shredders," Nancy Zafris has created a cast of characters that you will simultaneously pity, love, loathe, respect and want to tuck under your wing and nurture. What fresh personalities she brings to life! The book is also filled with succinct insights that are painfully and, oddly, comically true: "People with short, fat fingers were usually the life of the party." Though the reader may find the book sluggish in spots, he/she will be rewarded at the end with insights into humanity that are both salty and sweet.
L.S.M.F.R. (Lucky Strike Makes Fine Reading) Apr 22, 2005
I savored every bit of this book. One of principal characters is Utah (a state that looks like its name with its canyons and mesas.) It is so otherworldly; it has attracted its own religion, colors, threats and natural resources. The other characters are as bright and colorful as Utah. When most of the country in the 1950's was busy establishing the suburbs, these characters are wandering the desert, trying to stake claims on uranium, adventure, and memories. Everyone glows with their own distinctions, interior doubts and dreams. The author fully realizes each character's traits and makes them so genuine that it makes you smile with recognition. There is real humor punctuated with lovely observations. Each page holds beautifully rendered language. I was glad to have found this book and want to spread the good news.