Book info

The Used World (2007)

The Used World (2007)
Author
Rating
3.63 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0743247787 (ISBN13: 9780743247788)
languge
English
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publisher
free press
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The Used World (2007)
The Used World (2007)

About book: The Used World is Haven Kimmel’s latest novel. The title comes from a flea market called The Used World Emporium, located in Jonah, Indiana, owned by one of the novel’s three main characters, Hazel Hunnicutt. The other two characters, Claudia Modjeski and Rebekah Shook, both work for Hazel. The Used World Emporium is a massive warehouse-like building filled with cubicles of items that people are selling. Hazel, Claudia and Rebekah run the flea market. Hazel is in her 60s, and much of her story is told in flashbacks. She is unmarried with a sister who is a long-time drug addict. Her mother is still alive living in a nursing home. Claudia, in her late 40s or early 50s, is a woman who is often mistaken for a man. She dresses in lose clothing, is extremely tall at 6 feet 5 inches, is broad-shouldered and very strong. She now lives alone in her family’s home after the passing of her mother a couple of years previously. Claudia is still grieving the death of her mother. She has a younger sister who is married with two children. However, Claudia doesn’t have much use for her sister. Rebekah is in her late 20s. She has grown up in a strict, fundamentalist Christian sect. Since the passing of her mother, she has rebelled against the sect. She lives in an uneasy truce with her father, Vernon.The flashbacks of Hazel’s life reveal her strong friendship with another woman, Finney. The flashbacks follow Hazel’s relationship with Finney as Finney becomes enamored with a married man, becomes pregnant and has a tragic death in childbirth. Claudia, alone and suicidal is dragged along with Hazel to see Hazel’s sister and in the process is given an infant to raise, and later on, a pit bull to keep. These events cause great changes in Claudia even leading to a reconciliation of sorts with her sister. Rebekah, meanwhile is involved with a guy who abandons her. She then discovers she is pregnant. Her father throws her out of her home and she eventually comes to live with Claudia.From there, events, like the weather in rural Indiana, swirl out of control leading eventually to a kicker of a climax. Along the way, besides the stories of these three women, are ruminations of the presence and purpose of religion in their lives. This is not too much of a surprise given Kimmel’s attendance at a seminary.I would recommend the novel for anyone looking for a novel with interesting characters, leading lives as best they can under difficult circumstances. The characters are well-developed. The plot captures the reader as we learn to care for these women. The integration of religious beliefs and/or disbeliefs fits in well with the characters and only adds to our appreciation of them. If you read this, and enjoy it, I’d recommend Kimmel’s two volumes of memoirs: A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch.

Did not love this book. Sad, since I have loved every other Haven Kimmel book until now. It's not that it wasn't well written. But it was written like a disorienting dream, which is not my favorite style. I like to have at least a smidgen of an idea of what is being referred to in long prose. Having said that, there were times when the clouds cleared and the poetic nature of the author shone through. And you do have to appreciate a book in which the women are ordinary heroes. Favorite quotes: "Finney blinked, her eyelashes damp with tears, and Hazel could see Finney was happy to be so sad, because he had made her sad, he had sent her away. In turning his back to her, he had told her something intimate and they hared it now, and the most Hazel could wish for was to witness it.""You have somehow come to believe that there's such a thing as 'love,' such a thing as a feeling that is also a priori truth, rather than an invention by the courtly poets. And you've got movies and music and books confirming for you that romantic 'love' is the highest good and it's what everyone is seeking and should be seeking. But it's a meager justification for what you've traded your life for. If there is any such thing as that sort of love, as opposed to the perfectly obvious and real love between parents and children, between friends, this ain't it, Finn, and you damn well know it." "Whose idea was this, anyway? Who would think that the best way to propagate the species would be to grow a new one inside a used one? She imagined a white-coated scientist in a laboratory saying to another, 'Yeah, yeah- that's a good idea. Let's put it in...what part isn't doing anything else? And it'll be too big to get out? Perfect."
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Reviews
Beth
I hate it when people who are really smart (and know they're smart) write a fiction book. I am well educated (i.e. perfectly capable of using big words) and I wanted to gouge my eyes out due to the RIDICULOUS amount of large words and complex sentences in this book. It just seemed like the author wanted to use EVERY SINGLE SAT word she ever learned in the course of one sentence. The plot is long and drawn out, complicated, and overly difficult. I THINK you are supposed to feel sorry for these characters due to their personal struggles, but it was more of a pitying sympathy than anything.Don't waste your time or your energy on this one....
Lisa of Hopewell
I'm listening to this and I'm disappointed. I'm constantly trying to figure out which decade the story is in now. Interesting setting and characters but I can't keep the time frame straight.Imagine that--we have the mandatory coming out moment.....Oiy, this book needed a much better editor! I don't know why I'm finishing it--I guess the "good parts" are compelling enough. If I'd got caught in a Church with THAT Christmas sermon I'd have a coughing gag and flee to the car! It's down to TWO stars.Okay--WHO was Rebecca's mother?? I'm so confused. The end was unsatisfying.
Heather
There's "hitting too close to home" and then there's "hitting your house with a missile." With Kimmel, this time, it was like fucking nuclear proliferation."What do you love?" Finney asked, still looking ahead.I love -- Hazel thought - -your parents' farm and the tone of the voice you use with animals. I love that you have stolen your father's cardigan and made it look like the most feminine sweater in the world. I love the way your curls hang against your neck, and how you are the one true thing I have ever known, and how if I were captured by pirates and didn't see you for a hundred years I'd still recognize any part of you, even an elbow. "I love Johnny Cash. I love the music from the war and before the war. I love The Steve Allen Show and the smell of kid leather in my mother's car. Oh, and toasted marshmallows.""That's a lot."
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