With the humor, irony, and veteran story-telling that have made him one of America's most respected novelists, Thomas Berger has written a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. In his latest work, Thomas Berger takes us on an odyssey in the wilderness that becomes a mythic adventure. Robert Crews, middle-aged, alcoholic, his life in shambles, joins three pals on a fishing expeditionWith the humor, irony, and veteran story-telling that have made him one of America's most respected novelists, Thomas Berger has written a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. In his latest work, Thomas Berger takes us on an odyssey in the wilderness that becomes a mythic adventure. Robert Crews, middle-aged, alcoholic, his life in shambles, joins three pals on a fishing expedition that meets with catastrophe. The plane that was to take them to a northern fishing lodge crashes. Robert Crews is the sole survivor. In a wilderness for which he has no preparation, Crews must become Crusoe. Forced into sobriety, he must confront not only an alien environment, but all the specters of his past: his broken marriages, his aimlessness, his profound loneliness, his failed existence. As he taps into resources he didn't know he had, Crews gradually becomes, for the first time, committed to his survival - and, eventually, to the survival of his companion, Friday. The accidental encounter with Friday, who is on the run from her violent husband, elicits Crews's feelings of protectiveness and compassion, and also love. Through her, Crews discovers his competence and manhood. This is a tale of more than survival - it is about transformation, commitment, and the possibility of redemption....
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Robert Crews Reviews
Robert Crews re-imagines Robinson Crusoe as the sole survivor of a private plane crash into a lake in Canada or the northern US. During Crews’ solitary days in the wilderness Berger’s prose serves his theme admirably, telling the story directly without similes or metaphors. The telling of the tale emphasizes that recognizing things for what they are will be the key to survival. The few flashbacks contribute less to filling in character than they do to remind Crews and the reader that losing focus on the present is a potentially fatal mistake in the wild. A Crusoe demands a Friday, and once Crews is no longer alone in the woods, about halfway through the book, the story loses some of its focus. Berger sets up some situations that have become part of the “civilized man abandoned in the wild” formula, but, as he later was to do in Suspects, he rejects formulaic resolutions to these situations. However, the book doesn’t gain the energy or power that can come from a rejection of formula, while losing the satisfactions the formulaic resolutions have been developed to provide. Rather than providing a sense of hard-headed realism or taking a wild leap into the totally unexpected, the alternatives presented seem like the author saying, “Well, rather than following the path you’re expecting, here’s another way that this can be resolved without stretching anybody’s credulity.”
AudiobookIt's sad to say but I never completely read Robinson Crusoe, from which this book is loosely based. Maybe that book went into minute details of day to day life and this book copied that. With every event described in such detail, I found the book boring for about 9/10 of it with it finally getting better at the end. The ending was how the entire book in my opinion should have been written because then it wouldn't have been extremely boring. I bought this audiobook in a $5.00 a bag sale at the library. Thank goodness for that!This author also wrote Neighbors which I didn't read but watched the movie. That one I enjoyed more.
I might have given this a 3 (for little action and an inconclusive ending, it seemed at first) had that very ending and inaction not been lingering in my mind still, a sure sign of a good book. Chad and I are obsessed with Berger, the unsung master of American writing, and this book cemented that version of his identity for me. I think of it as an adult _Hatchet_, strangely enough. Very subtle, but truly documents a realistic and thorough transformation of a man via this ordeal in the wilderness. Not action-packed, but GOOD.
I had some problems with some of the story. Would an alcoholic who has just survived a plane crash in which others have died not guzzle down the half gallon of vodka he saved from the plane? Would he truly use a little as an antiseptic and then never think of it again? Scared straight? Well, maybe; but it sure seemed unrealistic to me. Tough to detail other things that didn't ring true for me without spoiling this for others. Friends-- I don't suggest you read this. If you want a north woods survival story, read Paulsen's Hatchet.
An enjoyable though light adventure story about an alcoholic stranded in the wilderness. The book is fun, engaging, and never boring, but Berger lets his character off the hook too easily for the scoundrel he is made out to be. He should have suffered more in the opening passages. Instead, he seems instantly to know what to do to survive. There is redemption of a sort in the closing chapters, but even then the climax seems abbreviated, as if Berger were in a rush to complete it.