One Last Good Time

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Overview

"Michael Kardos's soulful stories take place in that hard-luck corner of New Jersey where rock and roll dreams crash into blue-collar reality. One Last Good Time is a remarkable debut collection, full of stories that are funny and melancholy at the same time." - Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher. "One Last Good Time is one of the sharpest, funniest, and most compassionate debuts you will ever have the good fortune to read. Without a doubt, Michael Kardos is a truly gifted writer and a vibrant new voice in American ...
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Overview

"Michael Kardos's soulful stories take place in that hard-luck corner of New Jersey where rock and roll dreams crash into blue-collar reality. One Last Good Time is a remarkable debut collection, full of stories that are funny and melancholy at the same time." - Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher. "One Last Good Time is one of the sharpest, funniest, and most compassionate debuts you will ever have the good fortune to read. Without a doubt, Michael Kardos is a truly gifted writer and a vibrant new voice in American letters." - Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

In an impressive debut collection, surprise outcomes and absurdist touches inform the misadventures of adults and adolescents living the blue-collar life on the New Jersey shore.

In interlinked stories that combine the poignant coming-of-age humor of Thomas Rogers' Jerry Engels novels and the weird wrinkles of George Saunders' stories, Kardos presents a gallery of lovable losers struggling with jobs, relationships and fading dreams in the fictional town of Breakneck Beach. The grown-ups include a school-bus driver sleeping with his wife's sister who ill-fatedly kidnaps kids on a long drive to nowhere, and a high-school music teacher just short of retirement who self-destructs when his superiors force him to lower the standards of his orchestra. The teens include a mysterious girl from a town of 204 where births and deaths are arranged so they don't have to change the number on road signs, and a boy who outrages his father, a corrections officer, by imitating the faded movie-theater organist who gives florid performances in their home in the guise of lessons. The less-successful stories involve the ashes of another music teacher and a female ghost seeking vengeance. Kardos is such an original, offbeat, revealing talent that he has no need to indulge in such gimmicks. Among his other achievements is to leave lasting impressions of such attractions as the Castle of Horrors, a pier side attraction where a teen's crush on his attractive boss is requited, Richie's Famous Organ Store, where a music teacher moonlights, and the Wawa food mart, where three kids get to know each other in the middle of the night during a power outage.

Affecting stories about New Jersey oddballs trying to overcome difficult circumstances.

Donald Ray
"Michael Kardos's soulful stories take place in that hard-luck corner of New Jersey where rock and roll dreams crash into blue-collar reality. One Last Good Time is a remarkable debut collection, full of stories that are funny and melancholy at the same time." - Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher. "One Last Good Time is one of the sharpest, funniest, and most compassionate debuts you will ever have the good fortune to read. Without a doubt, Michael Kardos...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935708100
  • Publisher: Press 53
  • Publication date: 12/30/2010
  • Pages: 202
  • Sales rank: 1,221,596
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Kardos co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. His short stories were cited as Notable Stories in the 2009 and 2010 editions of Best American Short Stories and have appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Blackbird, and many other magazines and anthologies. Kardos grew up on the Jersey Shore, received a degree in music from Princeton University, and for the next decade played the drums in a number of bands, including Thunder Road, “The Ultimate Tribute to Springsteen.” He has an M.F.A. in fiction from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. More information can be found at www.michaelkardos.com.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful tales of the down and out living in a town on the Jersey shore

    I first became aware of Michael Kardos because of a spectacular story he wrote that appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Crazyhorse. In that piece, "Mediation," a woman becomes concerned that her husband, after joining Alcoholics Anonymous, has become puritanically self-righteous. In the end, she accepts that in order to keep him, she's going to have to become as rigid as he is. That piece is not in the collection ONE LAST GOOD TIME, but the collection displays all the same talent and ability to explore fascinating, complex relationships. Kardos' writing style never gets in the way of the story -- his writing is clear and confident and he quickly gets you to sympathize with the central character in each piece.

    All of the pieces occur in the fictional Jersey shore town of Breakneck Beach New Jersey, examining the failures and missteps of primarily lower middle-class boys, young men, and, in one story, a college aged woman. Synposes of some of my favorite stories in the piece:

    One Last Good Time: A bus driver hijacks his school bus when it's full of kids because he fears his sister-in-law is about to tell his wife about their affair. Powerfully told from each of their points of view - the bus driver, the wife, and the 19-year-old sister-in-law.

    The Castle of Horrors: A big man - the kind who can easily get a job as a security guard - starts to work at the house of horrors in an amusement park. He accidentally scares a young mother to death, as she's going through the tour, and then he's haunted by her ghost.

    What's Left of Musical Giants: Mr. Barrotta - the same teacher whose ashes appeared in another story - is working in a rundown mall, trying to help sell organs. He's been forced to leave the school where he taught for 40 years because he protested a principal demanding he rotate "first chair" assignments and solo performances across all the students in the orchestra and not simply grant them to the most talented ones. His form of protest - asking a student if he can touch her (more graphically requested than that) - has landed him in this unscrupulous store where his virtuoso playing is used to lure mall customers into buying expensive organs they can't afford and will probably never be able to play.

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