Reviews for Lookaway, Lookaway


Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Dixieland was never so dishy nor dysfunctional as in Barnhardt's ribald send-up of the conflagration that ensues when Old South tradition confronts New South tackiness. Set in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, this tale of the venerable Johnston family and the early twenty-first-century dissolution of its fortune is filtered through the eyes of each of its malcontent members. There's matriarch, Jerene, daughter of an abusive father and abused mother, who rules her own roost with a "steel magnolia" resolve. A college-football legend and Civil War scion, her husband, Duke, unemployed lo these 20 years, lives off his residuals and reputation. Their children--morbidly obese real-estate mogul Annie, sorority slut Jerilyn, mousey minister Bo, and closeted gay sales clerk Josh--help fuel the scandals and deplete the funds that force the Johnstons to turn to Jerene's fabulously wealthy, but scandalously heartless, dipsomaniac brother, Gaston, a writer of southern gothic Civil War bodice rippers. From abortion to alcoholism, bankruptcy to bacchanalia, Barnhardt's satirical scorching of southern culture comes in second only to Sherman's fiery march. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
Barnhardt's fourth novel is a revelation: witty, savage and bighearted all at once, it is the Southern novel for the 21st century. The Jarvis-Johnston clan is a Charlotte, N.C., family of distinction; they have all that matters to society: money, pedigree and manners enough to keep secrets buried. But, as each family member is revealed (spanning a decade, every character has their own chapter), the ruin of the family becomes imminent. When Jerilyn Johnston heads off to Chapel Hill, she seems the one child who will live up to her mother Jerene's exacting standards. But when she pledges Sigma Kappa Nu, filled with rich, surgery-augmented party girls who hope to raise spring-break money by starting their own online porn site, Jerilyn falls into the abyss, which is a place her uncle Gaston Jarvis frequents with pleasure. Though in his youth he was a Young Turk of the literary world, for the last two decades he has churned out a regrettable Civil War series featuring the adventures of Cordelia Florabloom. The books have made him rich and bitter, his only solace a bar stool at the club. The great Southern novel he wanted to write, Lookaway Dixieland, conceived with his comrade in arms Duke Johnston, serves as a treacherous reminder of his wasted life. Jerene and Duke's other children--Annie, the much-married left-wing rebel; Josh, who spends his evenings trolling for black men on the down low; and Bo, a Presbyterian minister who despises his congregation--are all beyond their parents' control, contributing to the mother of all Christmas dinner disasters. Perhaps most poignant is patriarch Duke Johnston: the golden boy beloved by everyone, offered the world, but who, in the end, locks himself away in his Civil War library, fixated on an insignificant battle, shielded by history. Barnhardt masterfully reimagines the Southern gothic: There is every kind of sordid deed committed, but there is also an abundance of humanity and grace. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #1
Barnhardt's fourth novel is a revelation: witty, savage and bighearted all at once, it is the Southern novel for the 21st century. The Jarvis-Johnston clan is a Charlotte, N.C., family of distinction; they have all that matters to society: money, pedigree and manners enough to keep secrets buried. But, as each family member is revealed (spanning a decade, every character has their own chapter), the ruin of the family becomes imminent. When Jerilyn Johnston heads off to Chapel Hill, she seems the one child who will live up to her mother Jerene's exacting standards. But when she pledges Sigma Kappa Nu, filled with rich, surgery-augmented party girls who hope to raise spring-break money by starting their own online porn site, Jerilyn falls into the abyss, which is a place her uncle Gaston Jarvis frequents with pleasure. Though in his youth he was a Young Turk of the literary world, for the last two decades he has churned out a regrettable Civil War series featuring the adventures of Cordelia Florabloom. The books have made him rich and bitter, his only solace a bar stool at the club. The great Southern novel he wanted to write, Lookaway Dixieland, conceived with his comrade in arms Duke Johnston, serves as a treacherous reminder of his wasted life. Jerene and Duke's other children--Annie, the much-married left-wing rebel; Josh, who spends his evenings trolling for black men on the down low; and Bo, a Presbyterian minister who despises his congregation--are all beyond their parents' control, contributing to the mother of all Christmas dinner disasters. Perhaps most poignant is patriarch Duke Johnston: the golden boy beloved by everyone, offered the world but who, in the end, locks himself away in his Civil War library, fixated on an insignificant battle, shielded by history. Barnhardt masterfully reimagines the Southern gothic: There is every kind of sordid deed committed, but there is also an abundance of humanity and grace. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 July #1

Duke Johnston, patriarch of a Charlotte, NC, society family (publicly wealthy but privately floundering), presides over Civil War reenactments and an extensive firearms collection with a historian's eye and over his raucous family with bewilderment. Thrice-married daughter Annie garrulously barrels her way through the often politically incorrect world of Southern society, while the more compliant Jerilyn navigates sorority life at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Son Bo has chosen the ministry even as his brother, Joshua, trolls online for quick hook-ups but hopes for lasting love. Wife Jerene Jarvis Johnston polices family scandals and exemplifies a slowly fading lifestyle of compromise and gnawing painful secrets. Famous novelist and bon vivant Uncle Gaston and reclusive Aunt Dillard round out the clan as they survive the first years of the 21st century together but barely. Told with great humor and precision, Barnhardt's fourth novel (after Show World) is a searing look at the new South, with all its contradictions. VERDICT Fans of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections will appreciate this satisfying, multigenerational tale. A fresh take on the family saga told with both Southern charm and pathos. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/13.]--Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll., Northeast

[Page 70]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #1

North Carolina native Barnhardt's frothy, satirical latest (after Show World) is Southern gothic at its most decadent and dysfunctional. With each chapter dedicated to a different character--one more self-indulgent and flawed than the last--the sprawling saga of an esteemed clan's fall from grace and fortune spools out in fits and starts. Some members are more emotionally complex (and therefore more entertaining to read about) than others. The sections devoted to the four flailing Johnston kids--including spoiled college co-ed Jerilyn's drivel about her sorority-pledging shenanigans (think wanton lewd behavior including a tired sex-with-a-sheep joke)--delve into too much repetitive, perhaps excessive, detail. But the adults pick up the slack, chiefly Gaston--a bestselling author of Civil War-themed potboilers, who has a potty mouth, gobs of cash, and a weakness for hard liquor and prostitutes, and his sister, Jerene, the unflappable matriarch and "distillation of rich-white-lady force who could eat her social inferiors for hors d'oeuvres." (Her hilarious one-liners are standouts.) As the scandals pile up, including a raucous Christmas dinner showdown, and a hoot of a finale that's pure shock and awe, this mess of a family has nowhere left to go but up--well, not if they can help it. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Aug.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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