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NoVA: A Novel (2008)

by James Boice(Favorite Author)
3.22 of 5 Votes: 1
1416575421 (ISBN13: 9781416575429)
review 1: This is not the car or the TV science show. It is northern Virginia. A different world altogether than where most people live, given its location so close to D.C. It starts out with the suicide by hanging of a 17 year old junior in high school. It goes on to describe the lives of him and his family , and of his friends and their families. If you don't like raw sex talk and the use of "fuck" as a noun verb adjective or any other part of speech, and are queazy about the use of just about every kind of illegal substance(Michael Phelps is a saint compared to these teens), this is not for you. It is stream of consciousness, but not of the unreadable kind like "Ulysses". And it can be, at times, almost poetic. I give it an A/A-.
review 2: James Boice’s nove
... morel NoVA is a harsh, beautiful worm’s-eye view of a contemporary America in the process of slow collapse, and possibly the best — the most fully realized, inventive and emotionally plangent — novel to appear in the last five years. Boice, who is only 26, combines an astonishing capacity for empathetic imagination with the ruthless eye of a documentarian, and he nails his consumer-glutted suburban wasteland and its deadening banality with complete authority.NoVA — the acronym stands for Northern Virginia — opens with the suicide of a troubled teen named Grayson Donald, who hangs himself from the rim of a playground basketball hoop late one night. Boice sidesteps the potential cliché of this setup by eschewing a straightforward narrative in favor of a widening circle of alternating narrators, where Grayson’s mental deterioration becomes one thread in a kaleidoscopic tapestry of lives utterly drained of meaning by affluence, boredom, pornography, video games, fast food and mall culture. The perspectives of the other characters, including Grayson’s retired military father, his schoolteacher mother, a pair of their smug boomer neighbors and a thuggish teen slacker, are all conveyed through canny use of the free indirect style, that most slippery of narrative techniques. The only off note in this symphony of voices comes from the author’s attempt at inhabiting the lives of a group of itinerant Salvadoran gang members, whose cameo-like rampage feels both misplaced and superfluous. There is no need to import violence and despair into James Boice’s Centreville.The author’s Wolfean eye for sociological detail, his unerring understanding of cars, music, clothing, prices, brands — all the endless crud and flash of contemporary American consumerism — is more than just picture-making or contextual authenticity. Writers from Flaubert to John Updike have understood that a fulgent style wedded to sordid subject matter is a basic version of the aesthetic experience; almost nowhere in recent fiction does this experience receive as forceful an expression as in NoVA. This profane, caustic, despairing book transforms its subject matter through the sheer dogged accuracy of its impressions and the beauty of its language. Look around you, it seems to say; you may not like what you see, but it can’t be denied. From THE L MAGAZINE, December 24 2008 less
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The novel about my childhood...
awesome. 'nuff said.
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