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The Last Great Road Bum: Book summary and reviews of The Last Great Road Bum by Héctor Tobar

The Last Great Road Bum

by Héctor Tobar

The Last Great Road Bum by Héctor Tobar X
The Last Great Road Bum by Héctor Tobar
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Aug 25, 2020
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In The Last Great Road Bum, Héctor Tobar turns the peripatetic true story of a naive son of Urbana, Illinois, who died fighting with guerrillas in El Salvador into the great American novel for our times.

Joe Sanderson died in pursuit of a life worth writing about. He was, in his words, a "road bum," an adventurer and a storyteller, belonging to no place, people, or set of ideas. He was born into a childhood of middle-class contentment in Urbana, Illinois and died fighting with guerillas in Central America. With these facts, acclaimed novelist and journalist Héctor Tobar set out to write what would become The Last Great Road Bum.

A decade ago, Tobar came into possession of the personal writings of the late Joe Sanderson, which chart Sanderson's freewheeling course across the known world, from Illinois to Jamaica, to Vietnam, to Nigeria, to El Salvador―a life determinedly an adventure, ending in unlikely, anonymous heroism.

The Last Great Road Bum is the great American novel Joe Sanderson never could have written, but did truly live―a fascinating, timely hybrid of fiction and nonfiction that only a master of both like Héctor Tobar could pull off.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[S]tunning... Tobar brilliantly succeeds in capturing Joe's guileless yearning for adventure through high-velocity prose that is both relentless and wry. Tobar's wild ride achieves a version of Kerouac for a new age." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The novel gains thrust and becomes more affecting in its final third...Tobar's depiction of the 1981 El Mozote massacre is chilling and imagines a genuine shift in Joe's character. Though the protagonist will test your patience with his road stories, he has some great ones." - Kirkus Reviews

"The speed and respect and sensitivity with which Tobar can encapsulate a life is dazzling...The novel muses on who gets to tell stories as it probes the lines between myth and reality. This is first rate storytelling from a writer who deepens the sky with every book he writes." - Lit Hub

"Héctor Tobar uses every method at his disposal to encircle the facts of the 'conspicuous gringo' whose archive landed in his lap. I'm in awe of the results, an alchemical amalgam of tender portraiture and illuminating context, with a voice full of riffs and references, and charming as hell. Tobar can seemingly do anything as a writer; here he bridges fiction and nonfiction effortlessly." - Jonathan Lethem

The information about The Last Great Road Bum shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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More Information

Héctor Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and novelist. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark, as well as The Barbarian Nurseries, Translation Nation, and The Tattooed Soldier. Héctor is also a contributing writer for the New York Times opinion pages and an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He's written for the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times and other publications. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, L.A. Noir, Zyzzyva, and Slate. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of Los Angeles, where he lives with his family.

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