Fiction, Modern Ethan Coen Gates of Eden

ISBN 13: 9780385334389

Gates of Eden

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9780385334389: Gates of Eden

A middle-aged man beheads his wife, then calmly explains how she drove him to it . . . A fat little mafioso is going to war--in the clean, well-mannered streets of Minneapolis . . . A Jewish boy watches with wonder the rise and fall of a Hebrew school rebel--and sees the sadness at the heart of his own family. . . . Welcome to the world of Ethan Coen, one half of the filmmaking team that has unleashed a visionary, brutal, and uproarious portrait of America in such screen classics as Fargo and Raising Arizona. Now Ethan Coen translates that vision to the printed page--in fourteen keenly imagined, sharply etched short stories. Blending parody with pathos, making the heinous heartbreaking, Coen demonstrates his unique gift for stunningly inventive narrative, brutal irony, offbeat characters, and crackling dialogue, delivering everything you would expect from such an original imagination.

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Review:

Even if it didn't contain a chomped ear and a decapitated head, Ethan Coen's debut fiction collection would resemble the horrifically giggly crime films of the Coen brothers (Fargo, etc.). You've got the bleakly realistic Midwest settings: a frazzled dad driven crazy driving his kids on a camping trip in "The Boys." You've got the minutia of the middle-class life captured down to the last speck of "abstractly speckled linoleum" ("The Old Country"). You've got comically incompetent thugs (Mafiosi spectacularly failing to bring Mob rule to Minneapolis in "Cosa Minapolidan," a college-boy boxer turned private dick in "Destiny"). You've got ghastly, amusing caricatures of showbiz moguls: the record-company guy soliloquizing in "Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland" could be as real as his allusions to the personal foibles of Cat Stevens and Danny Thomas. Above all, you've got a mockingly self-conscious yet vibrantly original style of pulp-culture homage and spoofy, sharp, vulgar dialogue like nobody else on earth can write, except Joel Coen (who cowrites movies with brother Ethan).

In print, Coen can show off a descriptive gift that can't fit into screenplays. His fiction is bright and never boring, but not ambitious--it lacks the obbligato of grim mystery and lyricism that throbs in some of his films. It's on the light side--more like Raising Arizona than Miller's Crossing. It's also the most penetrating glimpse into a Coen brother's mystery-crammed skull since the revealing The Big Lebowski: The Making of a Coen Brothers Film. --Tim Appelo

From the Back Cover:

"Often funny, sometimes disturbing. . . Mr. Coen has sounded the jagged dissonance of the American experience."
--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"In Gates of Eden, the co-creator of such films as Fargo and Blood Simple delivers blackly humorous and often unsettling vignettes. . . .All the Coen brothers trademarks are here. . . funny. . .compelling stories."
--USA Today

"A distinctive voice and an offbeat worldview. . . All of these stories take place in Coen Brothers Land, a parallel universe similar to our own--except it's weirder, funnier and better edited."
--The New York Times Book Review

"The discriminating viewer who enjoyed [Coen's] distinctive and quirky films will like the equally unconventional Gates of Eden. Coen delights in juxtaposing tone, character and setting to comic and chilling effect."
--The Washington Post

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