Reviews in 200 Words

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

In Novel on May 21, 2010 at 5:41 am

Vince Camden is 36 years old. He is decently tall: well built. You can see him. This is important. You can see everyone in this book, and that’s necessary, because you want to meet these people. You want to know who they really are and what’s actually going on. Vince is in the witness protection program; he makes a living in Spokane, Washington as the manager of “Donut Make You Hungry.” Well, sort of. He’s also running a credit card scam involving a mailman and a glue stick. And he may smuggle marijuana in jam jars filled with volcanic ash from Mt. St. Helens. There’s a lesson in this. Vince is counting the dead people he knows, because death is the only thing we really know. And beyond this, or surrounding it, or at the heart of it, is the question of citizenship: the significance of a vote. It’s 1980: Reagan/Carter and the question is, are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? Walter seems to prove that we should all be answering this question all the time. What if death is just out there, like a fixed point? Walter’s characters are broken but fixing, defeated and settling, but living.

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