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The Millionaires

The Millionaires

3.6 3
by Inman Majors

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A brilliant novel of new money and old manners, crossing The Great Gatsby with the spirit of Tom Wolfe.
Meet the Cole brothers, charismatic country boys with more money than God—half moonshine and half martini. Roland, the younger, is running for governor of Tennessee, while J.T. maneuvers to bring a full-fledged world's fair to the small city of Glennville.


A brilliant novel of new money and old manners, crossing The Great Gatsby with the spirit of Tom Wolfe.
Meet the Cole brothers, charismatic country boys with more money than God—half moonshine and half martini. Roland, the younger, is running for governor of Tennessee, while J.T. maneuvers to bring a full-fledged world's fair to the small city of Glennville. To the dismay of the old guard, the fair succeeds, making the Coles among the most important men in the state. All that stands between them and grander ambitions is an investigation into how their bank made all that money so damn fast.Life in the fast lane has taken its toll on the Coles' families; their wives and mistresses are among the sharpest, sassiest creations of recent fiction. The quiet center of the story is Mike Teague, the Coles' advisor, who knows one of those women too well, and also where all the bodies are buried. Here is a portrait, raucous yet nuanced, of what the South has been, and what it will become.

Editorial Reviews

“Moving from backroom poker games to pols’ hangouts to the governor’s office, this expansive, smoothly flowing novel offers a rich look at family dynamics and overweening ambition.”
New York Times Book Review
“Majors's depiction of a Tennessee evening is reminiscent of James Agee's hypnotic Knoxville: Summer of 1915.”
Alabama Public Radio
“The best, most fully accomplished new novel I have read in perhaps three years…a kind of Southern Great Gatsby.

Wall Street Journal
“Giving us profilgate bankers who borrow badly, The Millionaires is a timely work.

Baton Rouge Advocate
“Entertaining and thought-provoking…It's literature, and serious readers will want to tackle it.

Michael Lewis
“Inman Majors has wandered into a wild territory previously wholly owned by Robert Penn Warren and established squatters' rights.”
Brad Watson
“Majors's prose often kicks your head back in outright admiration. What a hell of a writer.”
Anniston Star
“[A] deftly rendered look at the modern South and contemporary America... Scenes that require it burst at the seams with Majors's poetry.”
Raleigh News and Observer
“An engrossing story about ambition and integrity...Majors deserves ample applause for his storytelling and character-drawing skills.”
Memphis Magazine
“A sprawling, smart, fast-moving insider novel by author Inman Majors, who knows his way around politics, Tennessee Style.”
Richmond Times Dispatch
“[A] fine example of what happens when the Old South meets the New South.”
Birmingham Magazine
“[A] deeply Southern tale of power and corruption.”
Roanoke Times
“A stirring story. ...The Millionaires reads like today's headlines, complete with a dynamic back story.”
OpEd News
“Like the best of books, The Millionaires grants its subjects their humanity, and leaves you pondering the imponderable.”
Mark Costello
“A knowing social novel, ruthlessly alive. Inman Majors may know everything.”
Charlotte Observer
“The Millionaires is a novel of the New South, that near-mythical place where a good old boy—to his astonishment—can grow money more readily than tobacco leaves.”
Tuscaloosa News
“The Millionaires, with its wry, sophisticated narrative voice, a voice in full control, is the best, most fully accomplished new novel I have read in perhaps three years.... It is serious business and it is very good.”
The Midwest Book Review
“[There are] flashes of absolutely brilliant prose.... This is a story of the New South, and of the politics, the financial shenanigans, and the competitive mind games that bring wealth and power to a handful of determined men. [Majors's] description of the beautiful Appalachian mountains is a plus.”
“Remarkable and very timely... the story of two small-town brothers who rise to dangerous big-city heights is as big and ambitious as the physical book itself.”
The Advocate (Baton Rouge
“It's the kind of book that is both entertaining and thought-provoking and there are no loose ends, no unfinished plot lines. It has a clear message and focus. It's literature, and serious readers will want to tackle it.”
Roy Hoffman
Majors is a gentle satirist, affectionately deconstructing a wide range of typically Southern scenes, from a debutante gathering where a mother perceives one girl as "a figure of feminine form out of an animator's imagination" to a glimpse of fans on their way to a college football game, when the crowds are "like a constantly moving and shifting organism, a walking lava lamp." The novel's wry, often ironic narrative voice can be both barbed and tender
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In Majors's (Wonderdog) bloated, frenetic third novel, two young East Tennessee brothers born into extreme wealth struggle to keep their secrets under wraps. J.T. Cole, a fast-driving banker, wants to put Glennville, Tenn., on the map by having the city host a world expo, while his younger and more sophisticated banker brother, Roland, has his heart set on running for the coveted governorship. A successful fairground event nets the brothers some serious cash, much to the chagrin of investigators keeping a close eye on the bankers' shady loan practices. For the duration of the novel, both men are consistently unlikable, cheating on their sassy, perceptive, fedup wives and pushing their weight around their respective territories. By the time J.T.'s wife, Corrine, rightfully throws him out, federal agents descend on the thieving bankers, and a plane disaster shakes everyone up, readers will be too exhausted to care. This sprawling effort is a jumble of excessive exposition and sentence fragments that could have been a lively, spirited tale of greed corrupting absolutely. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Meet the Cole brothers: J.T. and Roland were born in the backwoods of Tennessee but are now wealthy bankers looking to make their marks on the world. Roland, the younger, is running for governor. J.T. wants to build an exposition in the small city of Glennville that will rival any world's fair. Both are facing opposition from old money types who resent these flashy upstarts trying to buy their way into the good-old-boy network. Unfortunately, some of their success is threatened by pesky investigators who want to know how their bank got so much money so quickly. Mike Teague, a political consultant who works for the Coles, finds himself in the middle of a legal and ethical nightmare that forces him to choose between his own conscience and his future. Majors (Wonderdog; Swimming in Sky) pairs a cast of likable characters with a strong setting, elements that set this novel apart despite its serviceable plot that brings these charming and intriguing men to a predictable end. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/1/08.]
—Kellie Gillespie

Kirkus Reviews
Ambition, money, politics and women drive a voluminous Southern epic. The money may be new but the format has echoes of Dallas as Majors (Fiction Writing/James Madison Univ.; Wonderdog, 2004, etc.) tackles the story of two over-reaching brothers, "rednecks with money," in the late 1970s and early '80s. The setting is Tennessee not Texas, and J.T. and Roland Cole are not polar opposites, like J.R. and Bobby, but their milieu of substantial homes, restless wives, financial plotting, drinking, keeping mistresses on the side and putting financial advancement above most everything else has a familiar and traditional feel to it. As the novel opens, younger brother Roland is running as the Democratic candidate for governor and hires experienced fixer Mike Teague to help him. The election is lost, but Teague stays on to assist with the brothers' plan to hold the World's Fair in their town of Glennville. Majors' pleasure in his scenario makes for expansive and leisurely narration, thick with description and conversation, and larded with stylistic quirks: scenes presented as screenplay, curious grammar, even free verse. Characterization, however, is light (especially as regards the brothers), and for a social and financial saga there are surprisingly few events. After some machinations the fair does take place, but that achievement marks the highpoint of the brothers' trajectory after which evidence of financial chicanery and accusations of fraud and influence peddling come to light. The shape is mythic but the storytelling is hollow.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Inman Majors teaches fiction writing at James Madison University. He is the author of Wonderdog, Swimming in Sky, and The Millionaires. He lives in Waynesboro, Virginia.

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The Millionaires 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Allen-Atlanta More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading an advanced reading copy of this brilliant
new novel. It is a captivating mixture of All the King's Men and The Great
Gatsby with a southern flair. The novel explores man's most
dangerous enemies--greed and ambition--while offering a look at the
changing south in all its complexities. The Teague character is
especially fascinating in how real he is-- not all virtuous, not
entirely corrupt. This is a must read and will be one of the best
novels released in 2009.

I question whether the Publishers Weekly reviewer above even read
the book. The first sentence of the review refers to the Cole
brothers as being "born into extreme wealth," when in reality they
are country boys, born on a farm in the rural south, who eventually build a banking and political empire. Hard to make mistakes like that and remain
credible. I encourage all to read this revealing tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bookaddictNC More than 1 year ago
This book was highly annoying. The writer's style made the story (hackneyed) difficult to follow. It was written in a manner that suggests the author already had the screen play in mind when he wrote the novel. As a book lover and JMU graduate, I was disappointed.