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John Henry Days ❮Download❯ ➿ John Henry Days ➺ Author Colson Whitehead – Thomashillier.co.uk Signed by the author on the title page Signed by the author on the title page.

  • Hardcover
  • 389 pages
  • John Henry Days
  • Colson Whitehead
  • English
  • 11 February 2017
  • 0385498195

About the Author: Colson Whitehead

I m the author of the novelsZone OneSag HarborThe Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN Hemingway award John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award I ve also written a book of essays about my home town, The Colossus of New York, and a John Henry Kindle - non fiction account of the World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, I live in New York CityMy latest book, The Underground Railroad, is an Oprah s Book Club pick.



10 thoughts on “John Henry Days

  1. Craig Craig says:

    I am befuddled by these reviews I have tried to read The Intuitionist 4 times APEX is a riff on all the good in John Henry Days Sag Harbor worked better as a short story But John Henry Days This is about my 11th time reading it, this time in prep for teaching it again for the first time in almost 10 years I m basing the star rating really a 3 1 2 on this read of it, which for me has lost a little of the magic since a I know what s going to happen and b I ve poured over every line a 100 I am befuddled by these reviews I have tried to read The Intuitionist 4 times APEX is a riff on all the good in John Henry Days Sag Harbor worked better as a short story But John Henry Days This is about my 11th time reading it, this time in prep for teaching it again for the first time in almost 10 years I m basing the star rating really a 3 1 2 on this read of it, which for me has lost a little of the magic since a I know what s going to happen and b I ve poured over every line a 1000 times But don t be mistaken the last few chapters are emotional gold The entirety of the book, conceptually and structurally, is freaking genius This is most assuredly a novel about character, characters in the literary vein of Ahab, obsessed beyond the brink with stamps, with memory, with ghosts, with stories, with notoriety And that transcends history, it transcends the narrative threads in the novel, it transcends human experience But there is also the structure of the novel, which is explained in the prologue all story is composed of multiple stories of individuals Subjectivity is a bitch, and it can be tedious to sift through the multiple narrative threads of real life And oh, look, the book is structured in the EXACT same way What is contemporary folklore and mythology How has it transformed since 2001 or 1996 in the timeline of the novel It would be interesting to see where J is at today In terms of tone, what everyone is dismissing as Whitehead being ever clever here is really very simple there is a racial tet a tet in the South that must be rendered in irony so that one doesn t just give up altogether To dismiss the humor as too smart means there are some really stupid readers reading this book.I want my authors to challenge me to the edge, like the characters in this novel get pushed to the edge How else does one work through the mental historical chains to self actualization

  2. Wes Freeman Wes Freeman says:

    Some shit to make you quit your job Every possible look at John Henry s race against a steam drill as model for modern work ethic modern, at least, circa late 1990s, early 2000s, before economy receded For those out there who aren t happy to have a job, who are still asking why am I doing this pointless thing every day just for , step between these pages and take a load off Author feels you He feels heaps other stuff, too book is chock full of Eustachian tube clearing funny jokes and spo Some shit to make you quit your job Every possible look at John Henry s race against a steam drill as model for modern work ethic modern, at least, circa late 1990s, early 2000s, before economy receded For those out there who aren t happy to have a job, who are still asking why am I doing this pointless thing every day just for , step between these pages and take a load off Author feels you He feels heaps other stuff, too book is chock full of Eustachian tube clearing funny jokes and spot on descriptions of airport hotel airport hotel malaise Lest this start to sound like Office Space The Novel, should point out book has a warning You are John Henry, pop culture is steam drill, race is on Central question of book is whether or not John Henry really won his race, cuz, you know, he died Author handles many threads at once, one of which is that John Henry, through song has become a pop icon This dark and ironic thread joins others, author makes good rope, end of the book is a noose

  3. Alex Alex says:

    Whitehead is without a doubt one of the most skilled writers in American literature His sentences are dense and filled with meaning, but also beautiful, vivid, and expressive He shines here, in his take of the John Henry story, exploring its origins, its interpretations, and how it has penetrated deep into the canon of American mythology, culminating at a festival commemorating Henry s fatal attempt to defeat a steam powered machine aiming to displace human steel drivers All that said, the st Whitehead is without a doubt one of the most skilled writers in American literature His sentences are dense and filled with meaning, but also beautiful, vivid, and expressive He shines here, in his take of the John Henry story, exploring its origins, its interpretations, and how it has penetrated deep into the canon of American mythology, culminating at a festival commemorating Henry s fatal attempt to defeat a steam powered machine aiming to displace human steel drivers All that said, the story at times is too complicated, encompassing too many perspectives, to hold together cohesively It took me two months to get through it and partly that is the result of how Whitehead has structured the narrative The multiple stories being told definitely add to the breadth of what he s trying to accomplish, but it takes away from the sheer enjoyment of reading Whitehead s prose.Worth picking up but my least favourite of the three Whitehead books I have read so far

  4. Roy Roy says:

    John Henry Days is written in an interesting narrative style It shows us events through the lens of multiple characters, some repeatedly visited, others glimpsed just once or twice A man named J Sutter is the one most frequently observed, so I suppose he is technically the main character But the true MC is a particular weekend in a particular town where an event possibly took place many years earlier, featuring a person who possibly existed The event was a man defeating a machine at the fea John Henry Days is written in an interesting narrative style It shows us events through the lens of multiple characters, some repeatedly visited, others glimpsed just once or twice A man named J Sutter is the one most frequently observed, so I suppose he is technically the main character But the true MC is a particular weekend in a particular town where an event possibly took place many years earlier, featuring a person who possibly existed The event was a man defeating a machine at the feat of drilling a tunnel through mountain to allow the continuation of train tracks The man of course, is John Henry He is the stuff of legend regardless of whether he was ever one of flesh and blood, so a stamp has been created to commemorate him and a festival is taking place to mark the occasion Colson Whitehead approaches this weekend from a wide variety of angles Among the people involved in the build up is a man researching the origins of a song written about John Henry, a man who collects railroad stamps, a woman who owns a hotel in the town where the festival is taking place, a man so obsessed with John Henry that he turned his home into a museum dedicated to him, that man s daughter, a journalist covering the events of the weekend, and John Henry himself Hints are given throughout the book that just as the famous race ended in foretold tragedy, so will the commemoration Whitehead has a beautiful way with words If you re looking for a character driven novel where you ll deeply identify with and care for the protagonist, look elsewhere If you re looking for a traditional beginning, middle, end style story rather than one which jumps back and forth in time and place, go find another book But if you re interested in a distinctive approach to examination of a symbolic event, one that will be timely so long as people either resist, embrace, take advantage of, or become victims to the changes brought about by the march of progress, then I point you in the direction of John Henry Days John took a last stand for human determination before it was replaced by mindless butefficient machinery Win or lose, his effort was in vain He may as well have been battling death We can postpone arrival of the Grim Reaper, but inevitably his date of arrival will be reached

  5. Deb Oestreicher Deb Oestreicher says:

    I confess to being awed by Colson Whitehead This novel is just astonishing I am pretty sure my mouth dropped open at several points A sort of fantasia around the fictional release of a commemorative stamp honoring the folk hero John Henry, the book convincingly imagines a wide range of American lives all the people associated with the festivities planned to launch the new stamp, including journalists, publicists, a small town s officials and citizens, assorted guests such as a stamp collect I confess to being awed by Colson Whitehead This novel is just astonishing I am pretty sure my mouth dropped open at several points A sort of fantasia around the fictional release of a commemorative stamp honoring the folk hero John Henry, the book convincingly imagines a wide range of American lives all the people associated with the festivities planned to launch the new stamp, including journalists, publicists, a small town s officials and citizens, assorted guests such as a stamp collector and the daughter of a collector of John Henry ana , and John Henry himself.The book is full of really terrific writing some of it satire, some of it straight out storytelling, and some of it jaw droppingly beautiful I m especially fond of a short section set at a fair, in which we observe individuals in the crowd from the inside as well as the outside as though we re passing angels, as in Wings of Desire.Look forward to readingof his work

  6. Drew Drew says:

    Damn, to ve read this in 2001 when it was fresh, when Colson Whitehead was just the weird dude who wrote about the elevator inspectors We ve all experienced the greatness of his work since then, all the way to the culmination of everything that came before in The Underground Railroad, and so it s a little obvious to say that this book is, like pretty much all of his work, astounding But this book is dense, it is confounding, it leads you down paths that it doesn t explain And the ending, of c Damn, to ve read this in 2001 when it was fresh, when Colson Whitehead was just the weird dude who wrote about the elevator inspectors We ve all experienced the greatness of his work since then, all the way to the culmination of everything that came before in The Underground Railroad, and so it s a little obvious to say that this book is, like pretty much all of his work, astounding But this book is dense, it is confounding, it leads you down paths that it doesn t explain And the ending, of course, leaves you asking the same question that people have been asking about John Henry the whole time how much of it was true Did he die then, did he die later In 2001, I might ve thought the book overly ambitious and a little flawed in its execution but in 2018, knowing what happens next for Whitehead, for the country , it s hard not to say god, he was this good that early

  7. Ruthiella Ruthiella says:

    It is pretty clear to me from this book that Whitehead is a versatile and ambitious writer I really liked the Delillo like riffs on simulacra and modern malaise, the Doctorow like ability to time travel to a historical era and the Kunzru like only Whitehead did it here first dive in to African American cultural appropriation The book uses the fictional launch of a John Henry commemorative stamp to be part of a set that will include other American folkloric heroes Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and It is pretty clear to me from this book that Whitehead is a versatile and ambitious writer I really liked the Delillo like riffs on simulacra and modern malaise, the Doctorow like ability to time travel to a historical era and the Kunzru like only Whitehead did it here first dive in to African American cultural appropriation The book uses the fictional launch of a John Henry commemorative stamp to be part of a set that will include other American folkloric heroes Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and Casey at the Bat as its inspiration and the main character is J Sutter, a junketeer which is sort of a professional grifter journalist who goes from movie opening to product launch, allegedly to write it up for some news outlet but really for the open bar and free lunch and the expense account, which he inflates by fishing for abandoned receipts to claim for reimbursement The book moves from satire to absurdity to passages so moving it was hard not to cry There is also a black cloud of the threat of violence hovering over the entire novel, for example when a black man feels perfectly fine standing in line to buy beer with crack heads and drug dealers at 2 00 AM in Brooklyn in one section but is later worried about his wellbeing in broad daylight in small town West Virginia But for all its brilliance, there was a lot of writing in here that tends to annoy me and pull me out, such as, The smoke lights out into the dark lands and swirls away by forces into diasporic scattering. orthat block where street lights stare blindly, handicapped by vandalism and city neglect, where shadows confab to trade samizdat decrying illuminationFinally, there is certain cohesion to the novel, but I found that congruity difficult to hang on to as I read

  8. Sentimental Surrealist Sentimental Surrealist says:

    Whitehead s first three novels, of which this is the second, strike me as different than his recent work they reelaborate in their construction especially this one andallegorical in their nature Whereas Whitehead from Sag Harbor onward strikes me asdirect,character driven just as focused on the impact of systems like racism and capitalism on his characters as on analysis of the systems themselves Which is not to say that early Whitehead is dry he was always wicked Whitehead s first three novels, of which this is the second, strike me as different than his recent work they reelaborate in their construction especially this one andallegorical in their nature Whereas Whitehead from Sag Harbor onward strikes me asdirect,character driven just as focused on the impact of systems like racism and capitalism on his characters as on analysis of the systems themselves Which is not to say that early Whitehead is dry he was always wickedly funny but hisrecent books seem a littlegrounded in a world I know, even as they carry on the ambitious spirit that he had from the start.It s easy to see why he made the switch his third, Apex Hides the Hurt, falls a little short of his high standard, suggesting he might have gone back to the same well one time too many Still, I m drawn to these first two Where The Intuitionist is extraordinarily crafted, this book is the opposite It interrogates its central themes, the proliferation of legends and the way racism and capitalism feed on each other, from a thousand different lenses pop songs, period vignettes, a little light espionage, and of course the John Henry story Somehow this all arranges around a county fair commemorating a John Henry stamp, no matter how far it might seem to spin away It s not quite as controlled as the Intuitionist or the Nickel Boys, but this just might be one of those books Bolano celebrated, an imperfect and torrential work that blazes paths into the unknown

  9. robin friedman robin friedman says:

    It Didn t Start With President TrumpThe divisiveness, polarization, and anger in American society did not start with the current president and shouldn t be fully laid at his door For many years, Americans have been unmercifully criticizing their country and one another Literary examples are many, including Colson Whitehead s novel John Henry Days This book is long and broad themed in the tradition of the Great American Novel The book is overwritten and mannered Characters and story are le It Didn t Start With President TrumpThe divisiveness, polarization, and anger in American society did not start with the current president and shouldn t be fully laid at his door For many years, Americans have been unmercifully criticizing their country and one another Literary examples are many, including Colson Whitehead s novel John Henry Days This book is long and broad themed in the tradition of the Great American Novel The book is overwritten and mannered Characters and story are less important for themselves than as a means for social commentary The book is largely a sharply satirical critique of American history and American culture The novel doesn t so much critique American polarization and divisions as make itself part of the polarization and division One can sympathize with questioning the view of the United States presented here I rarely fail to finish a book But I read almost exactly one half of John Henry Days and found myself unable and unwilling to continue.Robin Friedman

  10. Gregg Wingo Gregg Wingo says:

    What a wonderful find and a generally unknown mystery for most West Virginians In John Henry Days we have a local story Talcott is just 20 miles down river from me , a WV tale, and one of the finest and most accessible Postmodernist novels ever written I have been reading and rereading the novel for a while now and it has been an immense pleasure each time It is a work of tremendous detail on human existence Like all great Postmodernist novels it is an unrepentant criticism of Late Capita What a wonderful find and a generally unknown mystery for most West Virginians In John Henry Days we have a local story Talcott is just 20 miles down river from me , a WV tale, and one of the finest and most accessible Postmodernist novels ever written I have been reading and rereading the novel for a while now and it has been an immense pleasure each time It is a work of tremendous detail on human existence Like all great Postmodernist novels it is an unrepentant criticism of Late Capitalism and its commodization of the human spirit Utilizing the history of the John Henry legend Whitehead offers a critical analysis of capitalism s exploitation of labor from the Gilded Age of the 19th century to the fin de siecle of the 20th century While the author does maintain a subplot of the issue of race in economics, the main focus is exploitation of the arts and its role in a free market He traces this from the early period of musical commodification of sheet music to records to Broadway plays and the same with the field of writing in the realm of publicity and marketing with the rise of the Internet Colson also injects the concept of perspective as a multiplicity John Henry is seen through the eyes of the locals, the Washingtonian bureaucracy, the New York marketing apparachiks, and the American mythos This faceted gaze is also turned to West Virginia and its own place in our nation s collective conscience These little telling details And you see those dents on the statue People come around and use it for target practice One time they chained the statue to a pickup and dragged it off the pedestal down the road here Then the statue fell off and they drove off so they found it next day just lying in the road Probably not much to do here on a Saturday night Hmm What does this short conversation between the two principal African American characters tell us about the history of race in our country and the echos of Southern lynchings it creates in our minds Or is Whitehead reminding us that we are all just objects of entertainment, objects of utility Are we all just doomed to die with a hammer in our hands Unlike the novel, John Henry Days is a real event held at Talcott in Summers County WV each year on the second weekend in July It is as wholesome a piece of Americana as Colson portrays it in his prose So grab the book and come set a spell

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