"Like [Raymond] Carver...McDermott has a way of beautifully and crisply illuminating the thoughts and feelings of solid, blue-collar Americans."
The Huffington Post
"A readable...story of generational tensions in America."
"I was struck by the clarity and simplicity of the prosewhich reminded me of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories."
Sami Moubayed, The Huffington Post
"Bitter is the Wind is a...good first novel...spiced with news events from the period that will bring back memories for anyone who grew up during the '70s."
Portland Book Review
"Coming-of-age new adult and adult readers will find much to like in Bitter is the Wind, a full-flavored read that provides more depth and social and economic background than most."
Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
"A fascinating character study and slice of life novel following two trapped men and how they attempt to cope with it. Honest and poignant, Bitter is the Wind is a promising novel and points to McDermott as an author to watch."
San Francisco Book Review
"Bitter is the Wind, is a heart-warming story of the interactions between a father and son after they face horrible tragedy and get older."
Manhattan Book Review
"A pungent slice of working-class life in 1970s America, as well as a deeply-affecting father-son story. Bitter is the Wind reminded me how hard it's always been to achieve success for those who weren't handed it on a silver platter."
Stephen Fife, author of The 13th Boy and Dreaming in the Maze of Love-Grief-Madness
"A compelling tale of American aspiration and accomplishment told from the perspective of characters customarily deprived of opportunity, working folk whose lives and voices are rarely presented in first rate fiction."
Frederic Hunter, author of The Girl Ran Away and A Year at the Edge of the Jungle
"Jim McDermott brings us a great read in Bitter is the Wind."
A debut novel about the troubled relationship between a working-class father and his son. McDermott's work is divided into four conceptual categories: "Trouble," "Hope," "Desire," and "Control," and it maps those categories onto the story of the boyhood and coming-of-age of George Johnson Jr. in 1970s and '80s upstate New York. Young George's father's dreams of big-league baseball ended when he accidentally got his girlfriend, Mary Goldberg, pregnant. As McDermott opens his story, George Sr. is a widower, his wife and daughter having died in a car accident. He's working a spiritless local job and trying his best to raise his son, who's also beginning to have dreams of escaping small-town life. McDermott paints an effective, touching portrait of the relationship between George Sr. and Jr., skillfully catching the realistic tension between affection and boundary-testing conflict. The two clash over George Jr.'s willfulness and youthful misbehaviors and bond over baseball and a shared outlook on life. They begin a rabbit-breeding business together, and the father beams with pride when the son is valedictorian of his class in 1977. In an economically paced series of scenes, young George goes away to college and broadens his experience of life while his father stays working at his job. The novel's later segments lack the forward momentum of the earlier coming-of-age sections; George Jr. finds himself in a corporate job every bit as restrictive as his father's and impulsively decides to break the family pattern ("My father's given me a good example of how not to live," he tells one of his bosses). Overall, McDermott does a smooth job of incorporating the politics and pop culture of his story's setting. Although he never quite succeeds in making George Jr. anywhere near as sympathetic a character as his father, he populates the peripheries of his story with colorful secondary characters, including one, Ursula Brombecker ("long-time Village matriarch and self-proclaimed repository of Salt Point's oral history"), who commands every scene she's in. A readable, if somewhat programmatic, story of generational tensions in America.