Larry Baker The Flamingo Rising

ISBN 13: 9780375400506

The Flamingo Rising

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9780375400506: The Flamingo Rising
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A big, touching, hilarious debut novel about loving, feuding, fireworks--and your average extraordinary family whose home is the largest drive-in movie theatre in the world.

It's the 1960s in Jacksonville, Florida (where the sixties are still the fifties), and some of America's last sweet moments of innocence are unfolding out on the coastal highway at the Flamingo Drive-In Theatre, owned and operated by the Lee family.

Patriarch Hubert Lee has a spirit and ego to match the size of his drive-in: "The symbol of human power and aspiration, the stairway to heaven,"  he says, describing the gigantic screen tower. But his ego is at its most unforgiving in his dealings with Turner West. Turner owns the funeral home on land adjacent to the Flamingo and wants to put a cemetery on property that Hubert owns and will never, ever, under any circumstances sell!--his gleeful stubbornness spiking an already intense rivalry between them. So when Hubert's teenage son, Abe, develops his first full-blown adolescent crush, it makes perfect, devilish sense that the object of his desire should be Grace West, Turner's only daughter.

Abe Lee--earnest, devoted to his family, keenly and happily observant--is the perfect narrator for this beguiling tale. Especially since his star-crossed love for Grace becomes common knowledge, and he's suddenly the focus of everyone's attention. That is, when their attention isn't focused on something else: the often ballistic flare-ups between the feuding fathers; the shenanigans of the two young, seductive female Flamingo employees; the calm radiance of Abe's mother (behind which the secrets of her heart are well hidden); Abe's sister, Louise, blossoming with alarming speed into a stunning, willful young woman; the preternatural wisdom of Pete Maws, the retired railroad worker who pulls his caboose onto the Flamingo grounds one day and stays; Judge Lester, breathtakingly graceful when he's towing the Flamingo's banner behind his small plane, breathtakingly clumsy when his feet are on the ground; the canine rantings of an insane, beloved dog named Frank; the annual Fourth of July pyrotechnic extravaganzas that the Flamingo is famous for, and with which the Lees and their magnificent enterprise will find a permanent--not to mention brilliantly lit--place in local lore.

As Abe moves from adolescence toward adulthood--his love for Grace and his understanding of his family and his role in it maturing along with him--he leads us on a deliriously spirited tour of the hearts and minds, the dreams and desires, the foibles and eccentricities, of the whole Flamingo set. Along the way, we are reminded of who we were--and how we came to be who we are--with deep tenderness and insight, and glorious good cheer.

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From the Publisher:

Excerpts from reviews of Larry Baker's The Flamingo Rising

"A first novel that dares mix the Icarus, Oedipus and Earhart myths, risks
a Romeo and Juliet update, plunders Dante, references the Bible, rewrites
movie history and inside-outs the American past. Yet Baker's book is far
from pretentious. It's one of the more endearingly adept debuts to come
along in a while....A novel that is as fully realized as it is inventive,
humorous and heartaching."

--Los Angeles Times

"Like his flamingo, Baker never loses his footing."

--The Star Ledger

"[The Flamingo Rising] is an American original, as big and as full
of promise as a drive-in movie screen, formed out of the grist and gristle
of late 20th century fiction."

--Atlanta Constitution

"This is much more than a sum of memorable parts; it is a literary tour de
force, a study of barriers built and torn down."

--New Orleans Times-Picayune

"This pitch-perfect first novel is reminiscent of the best of John
Irving....Like the giant July 4th fireworks display toward which the story
builds, this engaging, moving novel sends up one sparkler after another on
its way to a crash-bang, heart-stopping ending."

--Publishers Weekly

"The coming of age story is done to a fine turn in Baker's absolutely
delightful first novel, which is also a clever spin on the Romeo and
Juliet theme."

--Booklist

"A truly affecting work, and an inventive one."

--Kirkus Reviews

"[Baker's] own sense of theatre is so grand that only after three hundred
pages does everything come joltingly into focus....Larry Baker is writing
for grownups but he remembers how it felt not to be one, and renders the
experiences in unforced, unshowy prose, neither folksy nor formal. The
result is a novel that's both modest and surprisingly seductive."

--The New Yorker

From the Back Cover:

"An American original, as big and as full of promise as a drive-in movie screen."
--Atlanta Journal & Constitution

"WONDROUS . . . HUMOROUS AND HEARTACHING . . . ONE OF THE MOST ENDEARINGLY ADEPT DEBUTS TO COME ALONG IN A WHILE."
--Los Angeles Times

"[A] WINNING FIRST NOVEL . . . Baker is writing for grown-ups, but he remembers how it felt to not be one, and renders the experience in unforced, unshowy prose, neither folksy nor formal. The result is a novel that's both modest and surprisingly seductive."
--The New Yorker

"Resonates with good humor, adolescent lust, complex love, and heartrending loss."
--Entertainment Weekly

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780345427021: The Flamingo Rising (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0345427025 ISBN 13:  9780345427021
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 1998
Softcover

9780517361580: The Flamingo Rising

Random..., 1999
Hardcover

9780517356869: The Flamingo Rising

Random..., 1999
Hardcover

9780316643597: The Flamingo Rising

Little..., 1998
Hardcover

9780316643634: The Flamingo Rising

Ballan..., 1998
Hardcover

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