Vivian's Song

Vivian's Song

4.6 6
by Tom Pointer

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During the height of the dotcom era free-thinking Texas cowboy Duke Tanner becomes wealthy by investing in Bay Area technology start-ups. Duke attributes his success to his own version of the concept that wealth can be created through the power of thought and he becomes a local New Age guru. The charismatic Duke starts marketing his ideas in the San Francisco area


During the height of the dotcom era free-thinking Texas cowboy Duke Tanner becomes wealthy by investing in Bay Area technology start-ups. Duke attributes his success to his own version of the concept that wealth can be created through the power of thought and he becomes a local New Age guru. The charismatic Duke starts marketing his ideas in the San Francisco area and soon finds an eager audience during the stock market boom of the 1990s, becoming an in demand lecturer and author.
By chance Duke buys land near a small Missouri town to base his burgeoning mail order business. It turns out that Duke’s nearest neighbor is Senator Charles Wentworth, one of the most conservative members of Congress. When the local clergy become enraged by Duke’s iconoclastic writings and his criticisms of Christianity they conspire with the Senator to run him out of town. Things become more complicated when Duke befriends the heir to Senator Wentworth’s largest corporate donor and he threatens to take over the company. When Senator Wentworth hatches a plan to render Duke’s property uninhabitable Duke responds in an unexpected way that sparks a huge backlash. Everything comes to a head during a massive protest rally in the tiny town during which both sides clash. After a near catastrophe Duke reevaluates his motives and changes his message to mixed results.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A New Age guru and his growing flock of West Coast followers clash with Middle America's most conservative preachers and politicians in this satirical novel about faith and tolerance. Duke Tanner isn't your grandfather's spiritual advisor. The Texas-bred "redneck" led a variety of lives--football player, rodeo star, Vietnam soldier, decorated Cadillac salesman--before he started preaching about reincarnation in his San Francisco compound. So how did he come to strike it rich on the stock market, manifest himself as a pseudo–cult leader (equal parts Ken Kesey, Suze Orman and Maharishi Yogi), and land his group and their Missouri ranch in the cross hairs of a U.S. Senator and a greedy businessman? These answers are the gift and curse of Pointer's debut novel. After a compelling in media res opening, he rewinds too far and spends the novel's first half digging through the guts of a slow-moving, exposition-heavy back story. While this does an excellent job of developing Duke's character and illustrating his natural evolution from ranch boy to guru, it often does so at the expense of the novel's momentum and general flow. Plotwise, things pick up when the narrative arrives back at the heart of the conflict, but the eventual climax--tender liberals versus inhuman conservatives--doesn't make the juice worth the squeeze. While Pointer's villains tend to be one dimensional, Duke, the hero, is complex, funny and charismatic, which sometimes saves the story from the damnation of dull prose and an unbalanced plot. Unfortunately, it's not enough to convince the audience to drink the Kool-Aid. Solid characters and hearty laughs, but pacing and prose issues prevent the sermon from sticking.

Product Details

Tom Pointer
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244 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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Meet the Author

Tom Pointer graduated from Saint Edward's University with a bachelor of arts. He lives in a 600-square-foot house in the thriving, creative metropolis of Austin, Texas. One of his favorite activities is cycling the hike-and-bike trail around the city's Lady Bird Lake.

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Vivian's Song 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Vivian¿s Song” will catch you by surprise. The book basically starts towards the middle of the story. A state senator, Charles Wentworth, is informed that a cult leader and his followers are moving to the quiet, little town of Bandicoot, Missouri. The good senator is shocked and outraged, and we can¿t help but feel a little sympathy for the guy. Then, an interesting thing happens. The author takes us back in time to see how William Joseph „Duke¿ Tanner becomes the manipulative leader of a cult. This trip back in time allows us to see that Duke is just a normal cowboy from Texas. He¿s a good-hearted and good-natured guy whose unique views on the world, combined with his dissatisfaction of traditional religion, leads him to form a unique system that some others mistakenly view as a new religion. Duke¿s goal is simple. He wants to show people how to make money and find happiness, while making money and finding happiness himself. He¿s aided in his quest by his wife, Melody Birdsong. Like Duke, Melody has led an interesting life that¿s had its fair share of up¿s and down¿s. When the two literally bump into each other, it seems like destiny has drawn them together. Duke and Melody are soon joined by other colorful characters, each one a friend or acquaintance from Duke¿s past. A real estate venture leads to all of them living in the same area, which they jokingly refer to as „The Compound.¿ Duke¿s business has grown beyond even his wildest dreams and when he decides it¿s time to find a new location, Melody¿s spirit guide, a bird named Vivian, leads them to Bandicoot. By the time we catch up to where the book started, we¿re able to see things from a new perspective. Duke isn¿t the evil cult leader that a few select individuals see him as, and the „good¿ senator¿s motives become questionable. The two large personalities are headed for a collision that will provide laughs through almost every turn of the page towards the end of the book. The imaginative use of acronyms to get various points across, while still maintaining levity, is one of the most hilarious points in the book. I wasn¿t entirely thrilled with such in-depth backgrounds being provided on so many characters. We naturally need the whole story on Duke but I feel that a few people, Melody included, could have done with just a few paragraphs of information, instead of an in-depth biography. Even with the extra character information, the book maintained a steady pace and kept me interested through the whole story. Entertaining, humorous, and a little thought provoking, “Vivian¿s Song” will leave you intrigued and amused. - reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
What are the people of Bandicoot, Missouri going to do? The year is 1998 and the local paper has just run an article about a New Age religious organization from San Francisco. It seems that this group has just bought a large parcel of land near town. Led by Duke Tanner, a former bull rider and Cadillac salesman, this group is suspected by some to be a cult. After reading the brief piece, many people are getting nervous. Can these out-of-towners be stopped? The opening of Vivian's Song greets the reader with the above, and hints at the supposed cult's neighbor, Senator Charles Wentworth, leading the fight to stop the invasion. Then the book takes an unexpected turn and brings the reader back several decades to the early life of the New Age group's leaders, Duke Tanner and his wife Melody Birdsong. After a tour of duty in Viet Nam and then finishing college with a degree in business, Duke went on to become a top Cadillac salesman while also finding himself in a failed marriage. Taking up drinking and drugs to avoid the pain that was his life, Duke wandered aimlessly until he ran into (literally) Melody at an AA meeting. The two soon realized they were soul mates and continued their life journey together. After detailing Duke and Melody's early life, the story moves to the clash between them and the folks of Bandicoot. At this point the story takes on a sort of battle quality, an us-against-them tone. Surprisingly, because the reader has come to know Melody and Duke quite well, and like them, with all their blemishes and yet, many good qualities, it is not the residents of Bandicoot, Missouri who will gain the reader's sympathy. As residents get more and more upset, basing their reasons on innuendo and rumors, it is clear that a battle is brewing between the two camps. Duke has no desire to fight, he and his group simply want to be left alone. Vivian's Song shows what happens when culture wars take on a life of their own and how quickly people forget to "love their neighbor." Within the first few pages, the reader is likely to think that Duke and his friends can only mean trouble for the sleepy town of Bandicoot, Missouri. But the author has taken it a step further by giving us an intimate look at the outsiders and challenges the reader to see things differently. While the ultra-conservative, Bible-thumping rednecks were a bit too stereotyped and over the top in places, the story still makes it clear that one should never pre-judge another person. As mentioned earlier, after quickly introducing the main premise of the story, that of outsiders coming to a small town, Vivian's Song takes an unanticipated turn and delves into the main characters' early lives. While a degree of background certainly helps build sympathy and understanding for these people, at almost 100 pages of text, it was far more information than needed. Add on another 50 pages leading up to the purchase of the land in Bandicoot, and setting characters in place and it's clear that this story takes a while to get going. However, once everything is set in place, the action picks up and pages turn quickly as the reader will be eager to see who will win the battle of wills. Quill says: While the first half of Vivian's Song is a bit slow, the second half picks up nicely and makes for a good tale of goodhearted people dealing with bigotry in a small town.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your mom was!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guitar, guitar picks.