Beautiful Children

Beautiful Children

Hardback

By (author) Charles Bock

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Paperback $11.93
  • Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 151mm x 37mm x 217mm | 644g
  • Publication date: 7 February 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0719596203
  • ISBN 13: 9780719596209
  • Sales rank: 924,236

Product description

One Saturday night, in a city surrounded by desert and oversaturated with glitter is Newell Ewing. With his older, socially maladjusted mate Kenny, the two embark on Newell's first Saturday night out on the town in Vegas. Newell is twelve years old. Before the sun rises Newell has disappeared, never to be seen again. Newell's suburbanite parents, Lincoln and Lorraine, are racked with mounting grief as their marriage begins to unravel during the unfathomable year that follows his disappearance. Bing Biderbixxe is an illustrator on a professional visit to Sin City on a hot summer day. He meets Cheri Blossom, a stripper known for her eye-popping pyrotechnic stage performance. Offstage, her drug- and porn-running boyfriend, Pony Boy, is cheating on her. With exacting suspense and original technique, Bock's panoply of Vegas dispossessed quietly exert their influence on Newell's fate. From the new suburban shimmer of the Ewing home, to the gaudy misery of Vegas strip clubs, to the desperate holes and punk-rock desert parties where an underclass of the marginal and meek are ignored and forgotten, Charles Bock takes us on a trip to the dark heart of America. Beautiful Children mines the humanity of its characters as it rushes head on towards a spectacular tragedy and powerful redemption.

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Author information

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, where my novel takes place. I come from a family of pawnbrokers. For more than thirty years my maternal grandfather, parents and now my brothers have run and operated pawn shops downtown, right off Freemont Street. Sometimes, when my siblings and I were little, my parents used to have us stay in the back of the shop after school. The store often had a line of people waiting to pawn their goods, local customers who worked in casinos and also spent all their spare time playing blackjack and slot machines, and also tourists who had blown all their cash, and maybe their plane tickets home, and now were desperate, and hung over, and needed loans on their wedding rings, not so they could buy new tickets home, but so they could go back into the casinos and win back their money. Lots of times my parents would be put in the position of having to tell these people that their wedding ring was only worth a fraction of what theyd paid for it, or that, say, the diamonds in that ring were brown and flawed. Then, from the back of the store, Id watch as the customers exploded and called my parents dirty Jews and cursed at them and threatened them at the top of their lungs. Its impossible in situations like that not to feel for everybody involved to be horrified, sure, but more than that, to be saddened by the spectacle, to want so much more than that out of life for everyone involved. The novel is about a boy who goes missing, teen runaways and some adult film stuff, but that same aesthetic and worldview is there. Sympathy. Empathy. I think that it keys all my work, every sentence I write. At the same time, the novel does take place in Vegas, and I have untold stories about what it was like to basically grow up in the heart of the gambling world. I also have some pretty decent thoughts about the difference between the city I grew up in and the monstrosity that LV has become.

Review quote

Ravishing and raw... What should be said of the results of his labors? One word: bravo" and, as corruptly compelling as Vegas, and as beautiful as the illusions its characters cling to for survival -- New York Times Book Review Has great energy and some lovely writing. Bears comparison to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe novels. It shares with these books the sharp eye for the minutiae of domestic arrangements, the excess of detail mirroring the way consumer materialism shapes the interpersonal transactions of the middle-class American home, and a sense of elegy for how the promise of the American Dream more often than not (at least in literature) seems to get lost. -- Sydney Morning Herald 'It's wholly original - dirty, fast and hypnotic. The sentences flicker and skip and whirl, like the neon city Bock writes about. It will change the way you look at Las Vegas' -- Esquire Magazine (US) 'Rich and compelling' -- LA Times The brilliant sentence-on-sentence prose gives the book its power an impressive novel -- The London Paper 'Beautiful Children careens from the seedy to the beautiful, the domestic to the epic, all with huge and exacting heart.' -- Jonathan Safran Foer 'It is stunning, near genius. Beautiful Children is brutal, erotic and like a wild potentially dangerous ride--it could crash at any moment. The language has a rhythm wholly it's own--a nervous kind of be-bob. It is as though Bock saved up everything for this moment--a major new talent.' -- A. M. Homes 'Beautiful Children is a fucking mind-blower! It is so good practically every sentence shines. You've got a sensation on your hands.' -- Sean Wilsey, author of Oh The Glory Of It All 'Beautiful Children is one of the finest first novels I have ever read. Brilliant, simmering, erotic, this dark adventure takes the world apart and offers it to you, piece by heart-stopping piece.' -- Allison Smith, author of Name all the Animals 'Charles Bock takes us somewhere in Beautiful Children that most of us would be afraid to go alone: across the neon deserts of the new west and into an underworld that is the world. Follow him. This is a journey, and a novel, that allows us no turning back.' -- Walter Kirn, author of Thumbsucker and Up In The Air 'His ability to share a deep understanding of America ... gives the book a whiff of greatness' -- Washington Post 'A distinctive debuta painfully well-observed account of loss both loss of innocence and physical loss' -- Independent 'Bocks debut shows potential' -- Observer/Review 'Charles Bock's ambitious, witty and immensely affecting debut novel ... Beautiful Children proves to be a real winner, one created out of nailing the mecca for all losers.' -- Independent on Sunday 'The inside glimpse at husband and wife struggling to keep their marriage together is particularly poignant' -- Image 'Bock combines a sharp and wry humour with a persuasive critique of the hypocrisy inherent within American capitalism leaves you hankering for more of what this touching and funny writer might have to offer' -- Metro (London and Scotland) 'tragedy and redemption amidst the gaudy glitter of Las Vegas' -- Waterstones Books Quarterly '(A) tragic and suspenseful story' -- Dazed and Confused 'Wonderfully drawn characters, breathtaking dialogue and a plot that, at its heart, is downright noir' -- Financial Times 'Magnificent ... The surface of Beautiful Children is as multifaceted and glittering as a disco ball, but underneath is an utterly convincing vision of the quicksand of corruption: how quickly a person can sink into it, and how difficult it is to pull yourself out... Bock animates the flamboyant structure of his novel with a dark, pulsating heart, juggling with admirable facility the contrapuntal voices and stories of more than half a dozen major characters. With its famous facsimiles of New York and Egypt and Polynesia, Las Vegas may be a giant deception in the desert, but Charles Bock is the real thing.' -- New Republic

Editorial reviews

This debut shows plenty of ambition and promise but could use a streamlining of subplots.The author casts his native Las Vegas as a microcosm not only for America, but for the human condition as well. At the hub is the Ewing family, Lincoln and Lorraine and their 12-year-old son, Newell, who all appear conventionally (if a little complacently) happy until Newell falls through the city's cracks. Though the central chronology documents the night of Newell's disappearance, flashbacks (and flashes forward) show that the boy wasn't that happy after all. If he were, he'd be the only one in this novel who is. There are many spokes to the plot, most of them tangential. There is the stripper and her boyfriend (verging on pimp), who urges her to get breast implants and coaxes her toward a porn shoot. There is a geeky graphic artist, with the improbable jazz-homage name of Bing Beiderbixxe, who has a scheme that involves both 3-D tattoos and the stripper. There is the dead-end high-school kid who receives encouragement from Bing and who befriends Newell. There is a hallucinatory episode among a homeless pack including a nameless girl with a shaved head, a pregnant girl, a dog and a vampirish hustler. Many of these people converge on a late-night punk-rock bacchanal in the desert, which serves as a sort of climax without bringing the plot full circle. And there are Lincoln and Lorraine, who come to suspect that their son was the only thing holding their marriage together. The tone varies from titillating close-ups of the adult-entertainment industry to background information on runaways that sounds like a public-service announcement. (It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?) On some level, everyone is a predator, and any beauty that these children once had has been either taken from them or bartered.Remember Ordinary People? This could have been titled Pathetic People. (Kirkus Reviews)