The Master Blaster: A Novel

( 2 )

Overview

The much-hailed author of Gone Tomorrow, has crafted a luminous portrayal of strangers adrift in an intoxicating land. This captivating novel intertwines the stories of several inhabitants on Saipan, America's least-appreciated tropical island. George Griffin is a jaded writer who comes for a press junket and stays far longer than expected; Stephanie Warner is a university professor recently on "trial separation" from her husband; Mel Brodie is an elderly entrepreneur; and Khan is a Bangladeshi laborer who comes ...

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The Master Blaster

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Overview

The much-hailed author of Gone Tomorrow, has crafted a luminous portrayal of strangers adrift in an intoxicating land. This captivating novel intertwines the stories of several inhabitants on Saipan, America's least-appreciated tropical island. George Griffin is a jaded writer who comes for a press junket and stays far longer than expected; Stephanie Warner is a university professor recently on "trial separation" from her husband; Mel Brodie is an elderly entrepreneur; and Khan is a Bangladeshi laborer who comes to Saipan ("America") to escape hunger. Their voices circle the enthralling element of Saipan-and the hopes that originally drew them to the island.

With the versatility that won Kluge accolades as the writer behind Dog Day Afternoon, The Master Blaster is a rare wonder of contemporary storytelling.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Kluge’s latest, disparate lives clash in the remote U.S. territory of Saipan, an island in the Pacific known for its WWII battles and territorial wrangling. A late-night plane to the island deposits a group of misfits, including Stephanie Warner, a middle-aged professor who is vaulted to prominence at Saipan’s tiny college and is considering a split with her husband. With her are George Griffin, a travel writer going to Saipan to contemplate a daring career move; Max Brodie, an older businessman with the seeds of a good idea; and Khan, a young Bangladeshi desperate for an opportunity and trying to avoid exploitation—or worse. The beaches are nice, but as the half-empty hotels and massage parlors attest, this is a place on the margins. The complex world that exists in this U.S. commonwealth’s shadows is chronicled by the Master Blaster, an elusive and widely read blogger who is the not-so-secret target of those whose corruption he exposes. The new arrivals become quickly entangled with local intrigue and with each other. They are all pulled into Saipan’s conflicts until the island threatens to consume more than just their money. Though Kluge (Gone Tomorrow) delivers a detailed sociopolitical commentary about a fascinating spot, a somber noir pallor makes the story less exciting that it could be. (Apr.)
--Booklist

"This title is recommended for large popular collections for its interesting character development, plot twists, and 'gotcha' ending."
--Stewart O'Nan

"As the Master Blaster says of Saipan: 'Americans dream of islands. Islanders dream of America. This is where the dreams converge.' Delving deep into his rich setting, P.F. Kluge patiently lays out a tale of intrigue and ignorance worthy of Graham Greene."
--Tony D'Souza

"When four lost souls arrive on the same night flight to Saipan, they wager who among them will last the longest. Fear, violence, sex, and money blow like trade winds across this Fantasy Island, a microscopic petri dish of greed and race sweltering in the American Pacific. Kluge is among our finest novelists, and he flexes his muscles over this postage stamp of territory. Like all the greats before him, he saves his best line for last, in this his greatest book."
--Boston Globe

"All of these characters along with the Master Blaster have their own narrative threads and Kluge's weaving is intricate and in many places brilliant. Prose and dialogue snap and crackle."
--Shelf Awareness

"Kluge's novel follows an increasingly entangled plot as it alternates among the quartet's voices, with interruptions by diatribes from an anonymous local blogger, The Master Blaster, self-appointed guardian of the island's soul. From the often amusing clutter of all these voices, Kluge not only crafts a first-rate mystery, but also demystifies the ways our personal histories and ambitions seem inevitably to debunk even the noblest of our myths."
--Akron Beacon Journal

"The Master Blaster is the operator of a bitterly critical blog based on a real site that calls Saipan America's biggest welfare client. The revelation of the bloggers identity is a book dropping stunner."
From the Publisher
"Kluge paints an entertainingly sardonic portrait of the newest part of America, which he presents, more generally, as being emblematic of 'where America ends.'" — Library Journal

"This title is recommended for large popular collections for its interesting character development, plot twists, and 'gotcha' ending." — Booklist

"As the Master Blaster says of Saipan: 'Americans dream of islands. Islanders dream of America. This is where the dreams converge.' Delving deep into his rich setting, P.F. Kluge patiently lays out a tale of intrigue and ignorance worthy of Graham Greene." — Stewart O'Nan, author of Wish You Were Here

"When four lost souls arrive on the same night flight to Saipan, they wager who among them will last the longest. Fear, violence, sex, and money blow like trade winds across this Fantasy Island, a microscopic petri dish of greed and race sweltering in the American Pacific. Kluge is among our finest novelists, and he flexes his muscles over this postage stamp of territory. Like all the greats before him, he saves his best line for last, in this his greatest book." — Tony D'Souza, author of Mule

"The Master Blaster is one forced to struggle with the tension between his dreams of what might have been and the sordid reality of island life. Many of us, islanders and expats alike, should be able to recognize ourselves in the man . . . the drama is riveting. Why shouldn’t it be? Lots of us have lived it."
—Francis X. Hezel, author of Strangers in their Own Land and New Shape of Old Island Cultures

"That voice — jaundiced, seasoned, amused and vibrant as it is — gives The Master Blaster added allure. This is not a young man's book; it's the work of a writer who has seen the world, literally and figuratively, for a long time. "The Master Blaster" is tinged with thoughts of mortality, but they are offset by a bon vivant's occasional flash of gratitude and beauty."
—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Kluge, a professor at Kenyon College, is knowing and skillful with the shifting story lines . . . The Master Blaster is an ode to our myth of the fresh start. It's also a sly history lesson about colonial powers and native misrule. It's an expose, seeded when Magellan discovered the archipelago in 1521. It's a love poem to Saipan disguising none of its warts."
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The remote Pacific island of Saipan is the setting for this story of strangers adrift in a strange land full of twists and turns."
Denver Post

"Kluge not only crafts a first-rate mystery, but also demystifies the ways our personal histories and ambitions seem inevitably to debunk even the noblest of our myths."
—Shelf Awareness

"[Kluge's] writing is right on the mark . . . highly imaginative." — Kirkus Reviews

"All of these characters along with the Master Blaster have their own narrative threads and Kluge's weaving is intricate and in many places brilliant. Prose and dialogue snap and crackle." — Boston Globe

"Kluge's novel follows an increasingly entangled plot as it alternates among the quartet's voices, with interruptions by diatribes from an anonymous local blogger, The Master Blaster, self-appointed guardian of the island's soul. From the often amusing clutter of all these voices, Kluge not only crafts a first-rate mystery, but also demystifies the ways our personal histories and ambitions seem inevitably to debunk even the noblest of our myths." — Shelf Awareness

"The Master Blaster is the operator of a bitterly critical blog based on a real site that calls Saipan America's biggest welfare client. The revelation of the bloggers identity is a book dropping stunner." — Akron Beacon Journal

Library Journal
Set on the island of Saipan, this novel by the author of Gone Tomorrow focuses on a group of characters who have descended upon this newest American commonwealth in search of a fresh start. Among them are George Griffin, an end-of-his-rope travel writer; Stephanie Warner, an ambitious college professor escaping a failed marriage; Mel Brodie, an aging salesman with a shady reputation who's employed by a powerful Washington lobbyist; and Kahn, a Bangladeshi laborer looking for a better life. Whether striving or hustling, they all at some point come into contact with the Master Blaster, a mysterious American expat, who through his website has become something of the conscience of the island. What each finds on Saipan is not a travel-brochure vision of paradise or the new start they imagined but rather a down-at-the-heels, would-be resort where old family ties and a localized crony capitalism result in the same old disillusionments. VERDICT Kluge paints an entertainingly sardonic portrait of this newest part of America, which he presents, more generally, as being emblematic of "where America ends."—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, North Andover, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Kluge chronicles the overlapping lives of strangers who travel to Saipan and find an America they never expected. George Griffin is a disillusioned travel writer whose latest book proposal isn't exactly working out the way he wanted. Stephanie Warner is an academic running away from a failed marriage. Mel Brodie, a Jewish businessman, and Khan, a Bangladeshi worker, round out the core cast of characters arriving on the same flight, each hoping to find on the South Pacific island of Saipan the something that's missing from their lives. Home to fierce fighting in World War II, Saipan became a U.S. Commonwealth, but other than the title, there is very little about the small island that speaks to the American way of life. With a tropical climate blanketing the ruins of a war fought many decades ago and the remnants of failed motels and industrial buildings littering the roads, the island speaks to immigrants looking to better their situations. Many of them find exactly the opposite, working in jobs where they are treated like slaves, earning barely enough to survive. While the island's residents like to tout the place as paradise, one person spends much of his time bursting that bubble. Known for reasons Kluge never fully explains as the Master Blaster, this rebel maintains a website that critically examines Saipan, leading to threats and attempts to unmask his identity. Kluge's story, told in turn by the different travelers, traces the intersection of his characters' lives and how they relate both to one another and to Saipan. The writing is right on the mark, with the author migrating effortlessly from one point of view to another. And the characters interact plausibly, their stories overlapping almost imperceptibly, but the picture he paints of Saipan is depressing: In Kluge's hands the island becomes a down-on-its-luck Paradise wannabe that exists only to bilk migrants of their dreams. Highly imaginative but unfortunately titled and depressing from first page to last, the novel won't send anyone rushing to book a vacation on the island of Saipan.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590203224
  • Publisher: Overlook
  • Publication date: 3/29/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,510,389
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

P.F. KLUGE is Writer in Residence at Kenyon College. He is the author of Gone Tomorrow and A Call From Jersey, published by Overlook. Two films, Dog Day Afternoon and Eddie and the Cruisers, are based on his work.

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Customer Reviews

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