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Posted October 16, 2000
Reading 'River City' is like playing the slots - you keep hoping the next pull of the arm (turn of the page) will produce a winner. There were times I wondered why I continued to read this over-long account of middle-aged Rollie's divorce, estrangement from family, difficulties with work and attempts to make it with an assortment of women. But I found myself caring about him and hoping, till the end, that things would work out. Learning about the effects of divorce and estrangement, loss of employment and self-esteem from a man's perspective was revealing. Witnessing Rollie's redemption was worth the read. There were many exciting literary moments during this stream-of-consciousness narrative though careless editing detracted from its overall effectiveness. Philip Johnson has the gift of story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 7, 2000
Johnson traces the life of Rollie Schneider from his small-town Catholic upbringing through fatherhood, marriage, divorce, and the effort to make sense of it all. Rollie hits the ground hard more than once having bathed in the illusion of happiness and success. He is likable in that he is human. Like us, he doesn't deserve the journey downhill. But Rollie grows up from trying to please the others to ultimately accepting himself. He finds a sense of salvation (outside of evangelist rhetoric) ironically at the time that his relationships falter and the money runs out. If you liked Updike's 'Rabbit' Angstrom, you will be pleased to meet Johnson's Rollie Schneider. The book kept me curious to the last page.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2000
Philip Johnson's absorbing and provocative novel, River City, is an intelligent and complex odyssey of one Rollie Schneider and his marathon pursuit of enduring love, family acceptance, and redemption. Rollie seems predisposed to rejection: MotherShirley made sure of that in his childhood. Johnson is a talented writer who sustains the reader's interest from one surprising episode to the next. Realistic, powerful description and wonderful transitional smoothness connect the reader to the next adventure where Rollie faces new conflicts, many times built upon the last. The polt is compelling, even magnetic at times. (So what are families for?) Johnson is a writer sensitive to human joy and pain, and he has a realistic grasp of the human condition. (All of us live east of Eaden.) Johnson's River City is entertaining, informative and gripping.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.