Read Nickel Mountain by John Gardner Online

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John Gardner's most poignant novel of improbable love.At the heart of John Gardner's Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells—who is pregnant with the child of a local boy—it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradualJohn Gardner's most poignant novel of improbable love.At the heart of John Gardner's Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells—who is pregnant with the child of a local boy—it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, isolation, forgiveness, work, and death in a small Catskill community in the 1950s. The plot turns on tragic events—they might be accidents or they might be acts of will—involving a cast of rural eccentrics that includes a lonely amputee veteran, a religious hysteric (thought by some to be the devil himself) and an itinerant "Goat Lady." Questions of guilt, innocence, and even murder are eclipsed by deeds of compassion, humility, and redemption, and ultimately by Henry Soames' quiet discovery of grace.Novelist William H. Gass, a friend and colleague of the author, has written an introduction that shines new light on the work and career of the much praised but often misunderstood John Gardner....

Title : Nickel Mountain
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780394488837
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Nickel Mountain Reviews

  • David
    2019-03-26 10:04

    I visited an old friend recently – John Gardner’s Nickel Mountain. I’ve been growing old waiting for the Gardner revival (the deceased literary novelist not likely to be confused with the living spy novelist John Gardner, although it bears mentioning), and was pleased to see October Light come back into print – a brilliant meta-novel fit to hold its own among the Lethems and Franzens and Safran Foers of today. Okay publishers: now it is time to reprint Nickel Mountain: A Pastoral Novel, a more subdued, realistic turn from the protean Gardner, and one of my favorite books of all time. Hell, it should be granted American Classic status by Modern Library or Everyman. (Gardner burned brightly indeed – it is astonishing to think that this novel was published in the same year as his Jason and Medeia – a classical verse epic set in a contemporary frame, and another fave of mine). Henry Soames runs the Stop-Off diner in the Catskills, on the dark edge of mortality. Morbidly obese, Soames has already had one heart attack and is just one heartbeat away from the void, which - combined with the stark isolation and treacherous indifference of the twisting mountain road and its hairpin car wreck deaths - has him thinking about what it all adds up to. Soames’s meditations and dialogs with the cynical George Loomis are wonderfully rich and thought provoking, as his conscience struggles with the transience, weaknesses and follies of himself and others, and the absurdity of existence. (Gardner is one of the few writers that really warrant pulling out a word like ‘existence,’ and yet he is very accessible, for all that). One other major note in Gardner’s rich polyphony is Soames’s relationship with young, vulnerable, pregnant waitress Callie, (wasn’t it fitting that the young saleslady at the used bookstore where I went to get a fresh reading copy was disarmingly beautiful in that unstudied, Lena Grove sort of way?), but that speaks for itself, as does the rest of the book, which deserves to be read and re-read, and will certainly please fans of Richard Russo, E. Annie Proulx, and just good meaty writers in general.

  • S. G. R.
    2019-03-26 11:55

    Perhaps our postmodern treasure hunter Nathan "N.R" Gaddis can explain to me what it is in me that makes me discard volume 22 of A Dance to the Music of Time, four charmingly comic and light volumes away from major literary street cred, to start consuming the moldering and clotted corpus of John Gardner? I seem to have the same affliction as him, a love for the obscure writers of the 20th century, the suspicion they are virtuoso somehow so virtuosic they somehow can't ascend into everyone's bookshelves - but for the opposite set of forgotten authors, the aesthetic conservatives, the realists. Seriously - put before me a signed copy of Frederick Barthelme's Moon Deluxe and a signed copy of Updike's short fiction, but for financial considerations, I'll take the Barthelme. Give me Yvor Winters, Louise Bogan...give me Henry Green...But this is a review of Nickel Mountain. Nickel Mountain, I'll be straight, probably should be either twice as long, or a quarter as long. To make a case for the latter, the first quarter of the book - Henry Soames minding his diner, gas-station combo, musing on his obesity induced heart condition and memories of his families, until his habits are interrupted by a young waitress hired at the request of a friend - is some of the most accurate writing I've read describing loneliness. There's the nihilism you come to in it, the self-absorption, the strange sentimentality - and when you lose it, the sudden realization you also liked it. Callie's pregnancy induced marriage, written judiciously in Callie's perspective, followed by the birth of the child and the emotional consequences of that, form the natural conclusion, reckless loneliness abolished and replaced with responsibility and companionship. The wedding itself is the high point of the book's writing, hitting what I've come to think of as the F. Scott Fitzgerald-ratio of lyricism to realism. It's some of the best writing, period, I've read. I don't want to say much about it: pick up the book and read until it's over then put it down when the baby's born. You won't be disappointed. But after that, the book starts to wander. (How many great short stories, I wonder, are locked inside wandering books?) Compared to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Under The Volcano, etc, it never really digs into the problems that lie under Soame's eating addiction. It's just "a demon." There are a few crackling conversations that go at it, which are wonderful, but which aren't up to the task of a novel. The novel never really gets at the suffering of living with an addict, despite having Callie's perspective at its disposal.It doesn't, alternatively, and like another obscure realist, Frederick Barthelme, dig into the marriage. Barthelme's odd virtue is his ability to set up a problem and then meander through daily life until it, somehow, through minute adjustments of feeling and through the simple passage of time, come to a conclusion. Here, everyday life is merely elided in expositionary descriptions. Henry changed this way over time... I'm spoiled by Barthelme. I would love more of the marriage. I'm interested in Callie and Soames' love. Their circumstance, half-necessity, has a lot to teach and to interest. How to behave in such a situation, how it doubt flickers in it, would help teach us "values that sustain" as Garnder cries out for in his critical work. Instead what the book does it start to wander into the lives of people who come into the diner. Soames' best friend, George Loomis, a baptist Soames takes in, The Goat Lady. This feels amateur. Addition instead of multiplication of what's already potential in the novel. One wonders if Gardner wasn't ready to confront his own thoughts on marriage, or on addiction. (Divorced twice, killed in an alcohol related biking accident.) The added story-lines DO add up. There is a sort of thematic statement about chance at the end of the novel. But it feels underdone. Each of these storylines themselves could have been extended, the view Gardner tries to paint made broad enough to stun with true sublimity. There could have been a topical novel or a thematic novel much greater. Nevertheless, I'm going to be reading more of Garner. The potential of this proves his ability. I have high hopes for Mickelsson's Ghosts, which promises to dig, and The Sunlight Dialogues, which promises to sweep. But I'm going to start with the popular one, Grendel.

  • Robert Rhodes
    2019-04-03 03:53

    When I first read this book, as a college freshman in 1982, it moved me very deeply for reasons I still don't understand. Little did I know that at the very same time I was reading this book, its author died in a motorcycle crash. I went on to read Gardner's other fiction, as well as his two books on writing fiction, and appreciated all of them. Looking back, I probably read Nickel Mountain because it was by the same author as Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf that Gardner wrote from the point of the view of the monster. We read Grendel as college freshmen and Gardner really got me to thinking about my own writing at the time. Anwyay, I picked this up again recently and started reading it again. Twenty-six years later, it's still haunting.

  • Adam
    2019-03-27 07:44

    Henry Soames--the morbidly obese owner of a truckstop diner in the Catskills, an angelic but tragically inarticulate soul--proposes marriage to his pregnant, teen waitress when the girl's boyfriend leaves town. Gardner was a medievalist and philosopher at heart, and this story represents perhaps his most successful blending of those passions with his high ideals about the modern novel. Must love always evolve into a decision--or could the decision, and a grotesque pairing, ever reverse that dynamic?

  • Quo
    2019-04-07 06:59

    Over the years, I've encountered references to the late John Gardner & have had a copy of Nickel Mountain gathering dust for ages. In attempting to cull my shelves of surplus books, I began reading his novel & found it alternately quite interesting but also at times not so very well-developed. In reading about the author's life, I began to sense that some of the issues touched on within the tale and some of the characters he employed to tell the story might have been rather too close to home for comfort. Gardner spent well over a decade fine-tuning the novel, while also teaching & working on other stories but with the result that Nickel Mountain at times still resembled a work-in-progress, at least for me. What Gardner does quite well is to frame the story, set in a combination small-town Catskills diner with a gas pump outside & a lean-to add-on as living quarters to the rear for Henry Soames, the proprietor. Henry is lonely, weary, obese & has a bad heart, a forlorn character who feels "old as the world" & who might have been lifted from some Edward Hopper painting, with the Stop-Off diner the only thing providing his life with any meaning. However, improbably the 45 year old Henry hires a 16 year old girl, Callie Wells, who appears at the diner "as if by magic, like a crocus where yesterday there had been snow", even though he requires no help at the down-at-the-heels place he manages. The diner becomes a kind of lifeline for both Callie & Henry and learning that Callie is pregnant by a boy who has gone off to college, Henry decides to marry her in spite of a 25 year age difference. I once heard of a town described as being "on the far margins of yesterday" and that would seem to describe the 1954 hardscrabble setting for Nickel Mountain, with the town 50 miles from Utica.I felt that Gardner seemed unable to develop the emotional underpinning that might have made the characters more palpable, something Edward Hopper was not called upon to do. Interestingly, I also kept thinking of various Harry Chapin songs, many of which seemed like parables, sung by someone who lived not so very far from John Gardner's roots & who often identified with similar down & out folks in his ballads. The comparison may not be completely apt but I felt that Chapin could have animated the woebegone characters in Nickel Mountain, including George Loomis who was injured by machinery ages ago & frequently limps into Henry's diner but who lives in a darkened 15 room house, someone whose seemingly ominous background story is alluded to but never really illuminated. There is also Simon Bale, A fire-breathing Jehovah's Witness who also frequents the diner but who few take seriously, except that later in the novel, his spirit becomes a kind of specter haunting the area. Most of all however, we are faced with interpreting the relationship between Henry Soames & his young wife Callie, someone who finds Henry "gross" but who also is said to love him, perhaps because he rescued her, or as they used to phrase it "made an honest woman of her". Meanwhile, a bit like Ben Bulben, prevailing over the County Sligo town where W.B. Yeats grew up, Nickel Mountain looms in the background of the diner, almost like a character whose force is felt but never really delineated. There seemed too many pieces that failed to connect, not that they do completely in anyone's life. For example, there is the mysterious "Goat Lady" who seems to emerge from the shadows & then disappears without a trace, though there is a suggestion that she met an untimely death, perhaps at the hands of George Loomis. In time, Callie does become more of a force, causing Henry Soames to enlarge & upgrade the diner, renaming it "The Maples". And, unlike the novels of Richard Russo, also set in upstate New York, there is a complete absence of humor, a quality that might have served to make at least one of Gardner's characters more tangible. However, what moved me to give the novel 4 stars & to follow Nickel Mountain to its endpoint was the quality of so much of the writing. Here is just one sample:They sat like people precariously balanced over a chasm & everything depended on what George decided. Henry sat blankly, pulling at the fat below his chin, not eating the cookie he held in his left hand. George Loomis stared at his cigarette. He could tell them & be free but then he would never be free again, because there would be someone else who knew his guilt, shame, embarrassment, whatever it was. Except that maybe that was what it was to be free: to abandon all shame, all dignity, real or imagined. At last George said (speaking of the Goat Lady), "No, I never saw her." Henry looked at him, pitying him, George Loomis no more free than a river or a wind, & as if unaware that he was doing it, Henry broke the cookie in his hand & let the pieces fall. Callie realized with a start that it was final: George had saved them after all. The room was suddenly filled with ghosts...John Gardner was definitely a master literary craftsman & there are other very memorable passages in Nickel Mountain. In reconsidering the novel, perhaps much more difficult than painting a canvas with broad strokes, is to somehow convey words that go unspoken, the occasional unbridgeable chasms within relationships and even within each of us. *Included within Gardner's novel are some very atmospheric etchings by Thomas O'Donohue.

  • Tyler Jones
    2019-04-17 08:59

    Believing that a novel should speak for itself, I usually recommend skipping introductions, however the William H. Gass introduction to Nickel Mountain is such a perfect gateway to both the book and its creator that I’d like to give it an additional five stars, for a total of ten. In a mere ten pages Gass has made me feel like I personally knew John Gardner and better understand the rather dogmatic times he had to create in. Gass writes of Gardner: He caused to rise up like an enveloping vision a fictional world that would help us live better in the real one. Having read Nickel Mountain, I agree. This novel, black and dark as a Faulkner in the Catskills, has a kind of beautiful optimism to it. In fact if Faulkner had the kind of loving understanding of the human heart that a writer like William Maxwell did, then the result might have been something like this. The backwoods characters embody many ugly traits and many terrible things happen but Gardner floats above his creation like a gentle and forgiving God, casting honor and meaning on people I would never have otherwise thought twice about. I think this one of the great American novels. Having visited this fictional world I feel better able to live in the real one.

  • Phillip Kay
    2019-04-12 10:50

    I've just finished Nickel Mountain by John Gardner, one of those books where 'nothing' happens, just imagination at play on the characters' emotions. It's set in the Catskills which reads as very beautiful. Gardner is supposed to be one of those 'good' writers who are hard to read. I really like his prose, and this novel was accessible, like a soap opera with soul. It was particularly good on the difficult, compromised, disappointed and yet fulfilling ways in which people relate to one another. Another book by him I liked was The Wreckage of Agathon, based on the totally imaginary memories of one of the great ancient Greek dramatists. That was sooo different, a rambunctious freeform excursion into metaphysics and memory. A third book I read but couldn't finish was Grendel, the story of the monster from Beowulf. His best know work I believe is The Sunlight Dialogues.

  • Tracie
    2019-04-11 11:59

    The language of Nickel Mountain by John Gardner is absolutely beautiful, but if you're looking for a book with a plot, skip this one. Obese, middle aged Henry Soames is content in his life running a diner in the Catskills until he hires 17 year old Callie to help him. Callie is in a doomed affair and winds up pregnant. Henry marries her. I have seen Nickel Mountain touted as a love story, but I don't see much love in it, except perhaps for the love both Henry and Callie have for the child. Henry offers Callie security, but she offers no love in return. Some interesting accidents happen in the story, but there is no follow up. Some interesting characters are introduced, but they fade away as I'm sure this book will from my memory.

  • David Rush
    2019-04-15 09:01

    From the title page...NICKEL MOUNTAIN A Pastoral NovelA different book, a pastoral novel inded, but my review brings me back to my own bucket of reviewer cliches. I love this book, but I could see how others would think it slow, stupid and plain silly, or that the people not realistic..I understand, I guess. But dang it, if you feel that way about this book, what is the point of living? OK, I may be exaggerating, but it is for a good cause.Consider these quotes from the book (another of my reviewer cliches)... Drunk. Maybe they were right. Not drunk from whiskey, but drunk from something else, maybe. Drunk from the huge, stupid Love of Man that moved through his mind on its heels, empty and meaningless as fog...Pg. 31“anything you make at all has got to be finding out what you want to make. I mean, finding out what you are…..- I don’t know. I mean it’s love, it’s like every kind of love you ever felt and the sum total of every love you ever felt. It’s what poor old Kuzitski used to say: It’s finding something to be crucified for. That’s what a man has to have. I mean it. Crucifixion.” His voice cracked – stupid sentimental. Pg. 42I adore this, but if you are not so emotionally inclined I bet you think it is just plain dumb.So again I wonder “why does this author so different from me, seem to be addressing all my emotional , psychological and spiritual longings?” Well, he just does.Henry Soames is an over weight, sentimental, sometimes angry, always questioning, often confused middle aged man...Hey wait, maybe I now realized why this novel speaks to me so much.Anyway, this is the story of his, and mine, and your, redemption.Jumping to the end of the book…He had grown mystical, or, as Callie said, odd. He had no words for his thoughts; the very separateness of words was contrary to what he seemed to know. Pg. 301This reminds me of a saying about Zen"do not establish words and letters", attributed in this period to Bodhidharma The thing is Henry had discovered the connected-ness of all creation and by trying to talk about it you apply abstract concepts. Sort of like killing something to dissect it. This is of course me just pulling an opinion out of somewhere.An analogy might be from looking at paintings. You can look and any classic representational painting, renaissance maybe, or perhaps even impressionism, and you see the story and are often moved by the concepts you see presented so well.But some can look at something more abstract or maybe Rothko paintings where emotions can scream at you from the canvas (again if you are so emotionally inclined), but others see just messy blocks of colors. My point is Gardner is somewhere in-between that Michelangelo – Rothko range in a literary sense. Well that was a messy way of saying it. Not accurate. I should just cut my losses and shut up.

  • Sondra Wolferman
    2019-03-28 09:52

    The plot is almost non-existent, and the characters failed to sustain my interest until the very end---in the interior monologues of George Loomis and William Freund---but by then it was too late. The relationship between Henry Soames and his teenage bride is never fully explored, even though the first half of the book is preoccupied almost exclusively with these two characters. The novel is set in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York which is one of the most scenic places in the eastern United States, and yet the author somehow manages to make the setting seem as drab as his characters' lives. Every now and then the morbidly obese 'hero' goes out of his home to shoot small animals such as rabbits and squirrels with a high-powered rifle. Whether he does this for food, sport, or simply to compensate for his own inadequacies, is never made clear, but it does nothing to make the character more interesting or more sympathetic. Having said that, the author's impeccable prose shines through it all, and there are many beautifully written passages within the novel.

  • Wwalztoni
    2019-04-03 10:06

    While his writing is superb at painting mental pictures and flushing out total characterizations, the plot plods so slowly it is tough to stay with it without breezing past paragraph after paragraph in an attempt to keep up your concentration. It would be better to just read parts of it aloud,let the beauty of the descriptions soak in, and let it go at that.

  • 40 Forte
    2019-04-02 04:49

    I didn't enjoy it as much as Mickelsson's Ghosts, but that's no slight to this work.A character piece of the highest quality, I don't know why more people don't know/appreciate Gardner's work.Human realtionships of all kinds are potrayed poignantly, and sometimes absurdly-but they always feel real.-40

  • Robert Jacoby
    2019-04-09 12:09

    This is another 5-star book in my shelf.Gardner not only preached superior writing but also excelled at the practice. I read this work with awe and wonder at what Mr. Gardner achieved with his prose. I agree with the Chicago Sun-Times reviewer who wrote: "There is enough life here for several novels." Mr. Gardner's prose is full of life. This is a wonderful American work by an American master.

  • Jillian Owens
    2019-04-20 07:00

    Anticlimactic, boring, rambling...there was hardly any story in this super long book. I could skip an entire page and not have missed a thing. The author is obviously very skillful with words and colorful descriptions, but that alone doesn't make a good book. This was a waste of a week.

  • Monica
    2019-03-31 11:51

    I liked Nickel Mountain better than Grendel which was too odd a modern fairytale for me at the time. Nickel Mountain was closer in spirit to The Sunlight Dialogues.

  • R.K. Cowles
    2019-04-12 12:07

    3 1/2 stars

  • Marianna
    2019-04-09 07:45

    I would have given this book a 4 or 5 but there are times that it seriously lags and could have used some cutting. The story is simply beautiful.

  • Ian
    2019-04-24 10:10

    In Nickel Mountain, published in 1973 when John Gardner was forty but written much earlier, the author's genius is on full display. This is the story of Henry Soames, 42, who runs the Stop-Off, a diner situated along a highway in the mountainous Catskills in southeastern New York State. Henry—obese, timid, thoughtful, unambitious—waits for whatever life brings his way, much as he waits for customers to darken the door of the Stop-Off. Grossly overweight (a trait inherited from his gentle father) and with a bad heart, he is living on borrowed time and knows it, but is content to let things continue on as they are because he is simply unable to envision how his life might be different. When a neighbour asks if Henry will let his daughter work at the diner, though he fears and resents changes to his routine, he relents rather than annoy the man. Thus teenage Callie Wells enters Henry’s life, and though neither of them have any reason to think this is anything but a temporary arrangement, she stays. Henry’s passive and accepting approach to being alive means that he is little more than a spectator to his own fate, and yet we come to care deeply for him. Callie is a wisp of a girl who speaks her mind, makes mistakes and often acts rashly and ill-advisedly, and yet we grieve for her when her lover takes off and she is forced to a decision that changes her life. Gardner populates the community around the diner with a clutch of grotesques, misfits and eccentrics who—be they narrow-minded, pigheaded, brain-addled, misanthropic or some combination of the four—are always interesting. The action and setting are vividly rendered. The natural world, especially the forest, with its suggestion of things beyond our knowing and its threat of chaos, is a pervasive if murky and mysterious presence that informs the narrative at all levels. Nickel Mountain, remarkable for these reasons and more, demonstrates that even for someone like Henry Soames, life is an adventure that can lead anywhere. A major novel by one of America’s best writers.

  • Nickolas Jarosh
    2019-04-03 05:59

    This was an incredibly interesting read. Gardner's novel Grendel is my favorite of all time and even inspired a tattoo of mine. With this in mind, I ventured into Nickel Mountain. I must caution anyone going to read this, it's not the happiest or easiest read around. The plot feels slightly pointless depending on how you look at it, and there's nothing fantastical about it. This is a very realistic novel in how it goes about things.All that being said, I absolutely adore Nickel Mountain. First off, it's some of the most engrossing prose and descriptions I've ever read. Nickel Mountain isn't about fantasy, or crime, or intense mystery, or scandal, or even scandalous romance. Instead, Nickel Mountain is about LIFE. It's about drudgery, and we see a situation where it looks like a man who is just taking pity or something to that effect, comes to develop a genuine loving relationship. Multiple different, some seemingly unrelated or pointless, events occur throughout the novel and through the guise of Gardner's prose, we get to see real honest reactions to those situations. Some aren't the nicest reactions. Depression isn't pretty, but it's real. Nickel Mountain isn't cutesy. It isn't a "fun adventure." However, it is amazingly well written and thought provoking prose about how the people in this time in the Catskills Mountains go about their lives and how it affects them.Again, this is not a book for everyone. However, if it sounds up your alley, it may turn out to be an instant classic and favorite of yours like it did for me.

  • Beckie Elgin
    2019-04-23 03:59

    What a wonderful story! This book moves slowly and thoughtfully, as Henry Soames the protagonist does. The relationships Gardner develops in Nickel Mountain are realistic and unsentimental, but rich and full of their own kind of love. This is a novel I come back to over and over again and am never disappointed.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-29 10:48

    This is a very unique book that starts out beautifully and the prose carries through right to the last page. At first it appears to have no plot but then I feel because it is character driven, the plot is not important in this case. There are many themes present such as longing and pain from lost opportunities, grief, death and impending death. There is a slathering of allegory throughout and don't expect to understand the intention of the author, read and discover it. Allow the story to unfold and let it carry you to the end and don't form any ideas of why or what because it is simply a story to feel right to the end. It is beneficial to read a short bio on the author because this story is slightly influenced by his experiences.

  • Andy
    2019-04-20 10:50

    The writing is excellent. My introduction to Gardner's work was through his Becoming a Novelist book and then Grendel. Gardner's writing make me think.The story of Henry Soames and Callie is so plain, and yet they live in a majestic setting. I suppose that's part of the point: look at the grandness of the world around these characters who really do not live lives worth noting. But don't most of us have such lives? And when we come to be at peace with ourselves (as Henry and Callie strive to do) we become part of the background that people expect to find when they're "not from here".I read the book in little parts over 3 weeks, which is too long for a short book. I need to reread it. The last two chapters, which I read in larger chunks was much more satisfying.

  • Joe
    2019-03-31 06:48

    I found this most disappointing. It was worthy and well-intentioned, but dull, reasonably predictable and not engaging. Some of main character Henry Soames actions are so stupid as to lose sympathy, and other characters are sketches rather than people. The story arc was hard to believe, and the pacing was off, with too much emphasis on some sections and not enough on others. It had the feel of having been rushed and not cafrefully edited. Fell very short of Gardner’s other novels, such as Sunlight Dialogues, Grendel and The Wreckage Of Agathon.

  • Tom
    2019-03-26 04:11

    Henry Soames is a confirmed bachelor who keeps adopting strays. An abandoned pregnant teen-ager he marries to legitimize (it’s the 50’s when single motherhood wasn’t an option) and a slightly crazy Jehovah’s Witness whose wife dies in an arson fire. He is surrounded by people who see the world as meaningless, and in the end, so does Henry. But Henry is saved from despair, cynicism, and/or anger by his tender-hearted view of those he shares his life with.

  • Don
    2019-04-13 11:11

    A simple, poignant story of two people, an obese, middle aged owner of a diner and a young woman who drifts into his lift and stays. As they weave their way through life, Gardner reveals what they mean to each other. With a cast of lively characters, catchy dialog, and philosophical musings, this novel brings the reader along for an amusing, thoughtful, and heart warming journey. Gardner is a masterful story teller.

  • Jake
    2019-04-09 09:06

    After reading "On Becoming a Novelist", I was ready to snatch up anything Garnder had written. This was my first, and it just wasn't for me.The story is a good one, but I think there is a lot of purple prose and wasted characters. The diner, while being an intricate center of the story, never really takes shape for me. It never moves past being just the diner, instead of this spot for out-of-towners and lost hope. Whatever, just not for me.

  • Kayla
    2019-04-23 12:09

    I found a lot of Buddhist undertones in this beautifully written tale about an obese hero, his desperate wife, and the gritty characters who become more of who they are destined to become. Is their destiny karma? Does Henry transcend his mortal life and attain an enlightened state?I think so but like real enlightenment, it is a slog through the mud to get there....or so I've heard:)

  • Gary
    2019-04-06 06:43

    Gardner is a favorite author of mine, as he is many, many others. NICKEL MTN has a wealth of interesting elements but struggled to keep my interest throughout. I don't think Gardner ever wrote anything poorly or anything bad, but some are better than others. For me, this came in as a fleshed out sketch rather than a finished book.

  • Laura
    2019-03-26 10:06

    I gave this a three star because I I love John Gardner's prose and attention to detail, but this one was a bastard to finish. It's a bad sign when you're rolling your eyes and trying to skip ahead in the last two chapters. In the end I felt like this was merely sentimental, with nothing to take from it except the usual "oh we suffer, and suffering is beautiful" cliche. I was disappointed.

  • Becky
    2019-04-09 06:43

    A good read - I 'found' this book while searching for something to meet the criteria of this challenge so I like finding something that hadn't been on my radar screen. Gardner is an excellent writer. It felt a little like short stories to me and was just a little short on plot to advance it along, but I can see why it was a bestseller when it came out.