Read The Bushwhacked Piano by Thomas McGuane Online


Imagine:(1) A bona-fide American freak tooling across country in a green Hudson Hornet hotly pursuing (2) a darling little millionairess who thirsts for "real experience" (3) teamed up with a double amputee, the world's fastest talking con man with a scheme to build bat towers for day-glo bats that can rid any area of insects "practically overnight." And you'll understandImagine:(1) A bona-fide American freak tooling across country in a green Hudson Hornet hotly pursuing (2) a darling little millionairess who thirsts for "real experience" (3) teamed up with a double amputee, the world's fastest talking con man with a scheme to build bat towers for day-glo bats that can rid any area of insects "practically overnight." And you'll understand why The Bushwhacked Piano has been acclaimed from reviewer to reviewer!...

Title : The Bushwhacked Piano
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780394726427
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 228 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Bushwhacked Piano Reviews

  • Jeff Jackson
    2019-04-30 11:50

    Dizzying and often hilarious, The Bushwhacked Piano veers between Schopenhauer and slapstick, vintage cinema slang and literary send-ups, with barely a breath to catch. On the sentence level it's deeply impressive, Pynchon on laughing gas, and the wild set pieces revolving around bat towers, wig banks, rodeos, and peeping toms retain a madcap cartoon exhuberance. Not to mention a scene of hemorrhoid surgery that you won't forget no matter how hard you try. The novel is partly a cultural dissection of America circa 1970 and that aspect hasn't aged as well. The savage way McGuane portrays the affluent set as grotesque gargoyles probably had real bite at the time, but we're so deep into the heart of darkness now that the critique feels obvious. Every character is highly dubious, excepting maybe the bats, so there are no real attachments to form. Ultimately this gonzo work is less serious than, say, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but it's worth the ride if you're looking for high-octane prose and bizarro Americana antics. 3.5 stars.

  • Christina
    2019-04-29 08:57

    It's amazing how pointless my life seems when I'm trying to make myself read a book I don't like. Reading a really bad book can be kind of fun, as I like to mentally catalog all my complaints in preparation for writing a scathing review. But I didn't have that sense of purpose here. I just kept thinking, again and again, "what?"I guess I just didn't get it. There were whole paragraphs and conversations that I couldn't connect to the story, and there were dozens of allusions that went way over my head. The main character, who I'm assuming is supposed to be sympathetic, just came off as really high all the time or maybe actually insane. In fact, all of the characters and their interactions with each other seemed totally unnatural. I just couldn't put two and two together. I had no idea where the story was going. I didn't know what to think, and that's why it took me over a week to get through a mere 220 pages. There were a few clever devices that I caught on to, though, and I could see the humor from time to time. But I just hated feeling stupid and confused. Critics loved this book; maybe it made more sense when it was published in 1971. Or maybe I'm just not smart enough to appreciate it.

  • Danita L
    2019-04-25 08:04

    The description given to this book is actually an abbreviated statement by William Hjortsberg:"...makes me think of all four Marx brothers mounted on an attenuated bicycle, out of control the wrong way on a one-way street, against the mainstream of oncoming traffic; no hands, ma, and no brakes! Thomas McGuane can only be imitated. There's no one else around who come close enough for comparison." William HjortsbergIt is full of wildly inventive tragicomic vision.

  • David
    2019-05-01 09:13

    McGuane is an interesting case. His 92 In the Shade was excellent in my opinion, but I think that book his peak in terms of displaying his talent. While the Sporting Club shows glimmers of brilliance, it does not really deliver, which is certainly acceptable for a first novel. Followed by 92, his sophomore effort is fantastic. With this, his third effort, you begin to see him overstepping his own bounds and while there are terrific moments (the chapter of him bull riding to impress his love is hilarious and could have stood out as a very good short story), overall, this book is disappointing. Clearly after this book, McGuane took a completely different tack in his writing, and I don't think he was ever the same. If you've never read McGuane, 92 In the Shade is probably the only one really worth reading. This would be a second choice, but there is a large gap between the two.

  • M.R. Dowsing
    2019-04-21 05:50

    McGuane's style takes some getting used to and he has a penchant for using obscure words, but he's very clever, offbeat and funny. The style and lack of plot means this won't be for everyone, but for those who like their literature "out there", this is highly recommended - especially if you've ever wanted to read a detailed description of a hair-raising haemorrhoid operation, in which case this is definitely the book for you!

  • georgia
    2019-05-18 12:05

    it is a sad story about a guy trying to find where he fits, but the writing is incredible. the words put me right on the page, right in the arena, right foot, left foot. i could not wait to tuen the page for what words i would see next. imagine floating down a river. easy, yet some bumps. 1971 220 pgs 9 other books to find

  • Courtney Brown
    2019-04-21 11:57

    some really nice language, and it had me till the last 50 pages or so.

  • itpdx
    2019-04-29 07:53

    Off beat humor, off the wall characters, perfect title

  • Alan
    2019-05-02 05:05

    Thomas McGuane knows his way around a sentence. Driven mainly by manic action, practiced insouciance and cool swagger, this rollicking novel follows Nicholas Payne on a journey through America circa 1970. With the energy of a beat poem, McGuane raises the sad sack American male to a vaulted and sympathetic place. While his characters rarely bear the remotest similarity to myself, they consistently reveal universal truths about the American male psyche that resonates with one’s sense of self.

  • Ian Herbert
    2019-05-07 08:16

    I enjoyed this, and I'd even recommend it. I rate three stars, but really mean 3.5. It just didn't fully do it for me. Very funny, tragi-com. Twisted/warped humor which I like. Word-choice just a little too stretched out and exotic for me, I couldn't always follow what was going on.

  • Lawrence Leporte
    2019-05-21 05:15

    The characters are caricatures, Ralph Steadman illustrations come to life. The protagonist is as mean and unpredictable as a sulky adolescent. Nearly everyone is a psycho- or sociopath. Kindness seldom occurs, and when it does it is as if by accident.A multiple amputee tours the country in a motorhome looking to sell vast bat-towers to communities with insect problems, and a jar-headed ranch hand takes polaroids of a young woman's vulva from beneath the floorboards of a bathhouse. And yes, yes, later in the story the very same posh young lady inexplicably behaves in a way that is not at all consistent with expectations. The book is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Counsel for the prosecution is ruthless, averring that no one could possibly empathize with any of its characters. And that no amount of Thomas McGuane's wizardry with the English language and undisputed brilliance when it comes to timing and the inventive turn of phrase can compensate for that. Plot? Granted, there is a semblance of plot, provided one uses the term in its broadest possible sense: people meet one another and leave, they travel to certain places, do certain things, and they end up a certain way. That, my Lord, is what passes for plot. Yet, I counter, how jaded and world-weary would one need to be not to savor Payne's attempted moment as rodeo bronc buster? Who was not there with him as he “beat the dust from his Levi's with the borrowed Stetson straw”? I merely pose the questions.Crown's counsel: (inaudible)Then there's one C.J. Clovis. The man wants a classy bat – and frankly, who doesn't? I understand his stance perfectly. What, precisely, could be wrong with the idea that people might set some standards and then seek to live by them? “The Little Brown is okay.” Clovis tells Payne. “That goes for the Silverhaired. But no one is going to pretend they're class bats by a long shot.” Quite. Clovis is not glib in setting out his stall, but almost rueful: “I'm not starting an exotic God damn bat breed at this point in my life!”Would my learned friend seriously take issue with a man so thoroughly and sincerely prepared to stand firm when it comes to matters of principle?Would he really discount as completely implausible the simple proposition that a young woman may have certain reservations when it comes to committing to a life-long career in the wig storage trade?And who wouldn't see in the motto of the Fifth Street (Key West, FL) Baptist Church -“Where Friendliness is a Habit and Parking is Not a Problem” - occasion for reflection on the manner in which society's professed codes of civilized behavior might conflict with the desires of the individual in a way that is not immediately susceptible to tidy resolution on either party's part?Who does not see in Doctor Proctor the incarnation of an attitude prevalent among the powers that be in our western democracies and the big-wigs in the entertainment industry that it is perfectly acceptable – and good business, even – to suborn the most exquisite forms of delusional behavior when it works to your relative advantage?I'm sorry, my Lord. I truly am. (I exhale heavily here, as if worn out by the effort). TM is one of my favorite authors and this is one of his best books. The defence rests. God bless, and have a wonderful day.

  • Eliza
    2019-05-11 12:11

    Nicholas Payne est un jeune homme désœuvré qui parcourt à moto les grands espaces américains pour s’efforcer de ne jamais être aux prises avec la réalité de la vie. A l’âge où commencent les interrogations sur le sens de cette vie, il fait deux rencontres qui auront chacune sur lui une influence différente. Avec Ann Fitzgerald, jeune fille de bonne famille dont les parents ne pourront jamais comprendre sa philosophie, il découvre les affres de l’amour mais se confronte à ce qu’il déteste le plus : devoir se justifier, expliquer ses actes. Et par réaction, ses “beaux-parents” ne feront qu’accentuer encore la folie et l’inconséquence de Payne. De l’autre côté, il y a C.J. Clovis, ancien obèse en proie à la gangrène, dont le corps régresse de manière assez tragique tout au long du roman. C’est lui qui malgré son état donnera du travail à Payne en le faisant construire des tours pleines de chauve-souris pour éloigner les insectes.Sur une base complètement loufoque, mélangeant les époques et les lieux, multipliant les personnages improbables et les dialogues caustiques, l’auteur déroule devant nos yeux l’épopée d’un homme, dont “le tumulte était avant tout la vocation première”. Ce n’est pourtant pas lui le vrai héros de ce roman : c’est le langage. Car ce que nous lisons, c’est une explosion de mots, de tournures, de métaphores dignes de Rabelais, qui m’ont fait penser, de manière assez incongrue, à ces nouveaux chocolats qui crépitent en bouche et résonnent dans tout le palais. Thomas McGuane est un amoureux des mots et la folie douce de ses personnages semble un prétexte à cette profusion littéraire. Le résultat est un texte difficile, mais qui ne manque pas d’humour, comme le prouve cette réflexion : “Il serait injuste d’isoler quelques faits inexplicables dans l’histoire récente de Codd et de le juger selon, sans parler de son passé ; ainsi, il n’est pas exclu que dans sa petite enfance il soit passé un certain nombre de fois sous les roues d’une voiture.” ! J’ai plusieurs fois décroché, n’étant pas habituée à ce style cynique ni à un réalisme parfois cru. Et j’ai plus d’une fois été complètement désemparée par la tournure des événements…

  • Nathan Wisnoski
    2019-04-25 10:50

    What a strange little book....At times, I felt the characters undeveloped and the plot unconvincing, yet I was compelled to keep reading—no easy feat considering the book's ridiculously tight spine kept forcing its covers closed despite my endless attempts to pry it open!This was my first time reading McGuane. I came across a number of his books in a used bookstore when their perfectly uniform Vintage Contemporaries spines caught my attention. I picked up a few for cheap and started with this one as it was one of his more well-known (and shorter) novels.Supposedly The Bushwhacked Piano is somewhat different than McGuane's other novels and has often been described as rather picturesque—it was definitely 'out there'. I came into this looking for a quick and easy read, but that's not what I got—McGuane demands the reader's full attention. He can write a knockout sentence and has a knack for unique descriptive prose. I suppose it's fair to say his writing style and utter command of language carry this novel when plot and characterization fail to do so—which is fine by me, I'm a sucker for an interesting an unusual narrative. A rather pedestrian story of ne'er-do-well pursues love interest cross country is accompanied by a creative business venture involving bat-driven mosquito control, but then McGuane treats us to the inside scoop on a rather intrusive operation that borders on cringeworthy. At least there's some humor sprinkled throughout though, some dated, but most still effective.Overall, despite it's weird shortcomings, I enjoyed reading this one.

  • Gabe
    2019-04-25 10:56

    Who other than Thomas McGuane would have a climactic scene feature a hemorrhoidectomy? Who other than Thomas McGuane could include both the word "pismire" and the term "dirt chute" in the same book? "The Bushwhacked Piano," his second novel, has one of the weaker McGuane protagonists: Nicholas Payne. The book stalls whenever the Fitzgerald family is involved (excluding the scene in which Edna Fitzgerald slashes Duke Fitzgerald with some ballpoint pens and protractor); and, like "The Cadence of Grass," the best character in "The Bushwhacked Piano" is a secondary character: in "The Cadence of Grass" it was Bill (and Evelyn, who is the main character of the second half), and in "The Bushwhacked Piano" it's C.J. Clovis, the double-amputee who devises bat towers ("batriums"). Ann, Payne's love interest, is a sort of frustrating character (and the Payne-Ann affair is never very interesting) until the end, when he flips the balance of power in their relationship.Plot-wise, you never really have anything to read for, but the language here is so good (dead, falling bats are described as "black Victorian gloves") that it's still well worth the read. It's a better book than McGuane's debut, "The Sporting Club." But he'd far surpass this book with his next novel, "Ninety-Two in the Shade."

  • Martha
    2019-05-03 08:18

    Not my favorite McGuane. To me, it reads like a first book and a preamble to Panama. You know how authors will work one concept over and over? I feel like this is McGuane's first attempt at "wild screwup makes good (or tries to make good)." For me, The Bushwhacked Piano lacked the depth and poignancy of Panama. The narrator of Panama knows how messed up he is and is trying to repair the damaged relationships he left in his wake; that's essentially the plot, and the book makes a point about resurrection, to what extent man is capable of change, and forgiveness. Payne in Bushwhacked Piano lacks all self-awareness that he's out of control and that he's disrupted the lives of virtually everyone around him. He's essentially a toxic personality who maybe thinks he is freeing those around him (especially his girlfriend Ann) --and we all know how delightful (not) those people are to be around. Maybe Panama succeeds for me where this book fails because we hear about the destruction second-hand but we are seeing the protagonist on his redemption tour. In The Bushwhacked Piano the reader is witnessing the destruction but not the redemption, and it's understandably difficult to have much sympathy for Payne without that redemptive upside.

  • Emily
    2019-04-24 10:58

    at the opening: i was ENAMOURED with the quick-fire, delectably constructed visual moments and the way he draws the States in its actual glaze of weird-wonderful-horribleness: "And California at first sight was the sorry, beautiful Golden West silliness and uproar of simplistic yellow hills with metal wind pumps, impossible highways to the brim of the earth, coastal cities, forests and pretty girls with their tails to the wind. A movie theatre in Sacramento played 'Mondo Freudo'. In Oakland, he saw two slum children sword-fighting on a slag heap. ... one chilly evening in Union Square he listened to a wild-eyed young woman declaim that she had seen delicate grandmothers raped by Kiwanis zombies, that she had seen Rotarian blackguards bludgeoning Easter bunnies in a coal cellar, that she had seen Irving Berlin buying an Orange Julius in Queen's." (p.14)it sagged toward the end for me -- i know the hemorrhoids are thematically relevant, but yeah. slow -- and yet the end (especially Ann's fallout) was eventually worth it. it's hilarious at moments, chaotic and impenetrable at times, but hey - so's my homeland.

  • Ryan
    2019-05-06 10:56

    The story of an eccentric wonder boy written by a real-life eccentric wonder boy who eventually got his act together, moved West, and wrote some wonderful essays about the outdoors. Beating up on this book is needless; I always considered it an accidentally successful piece of juvenilia rather than a sign of emerging literary talent. It's a Pynchon knock-off but way less charming than The Crying of Lot 49. I only review it here because McGuane's career trajectory reminds me so much of Jonathan Safran Foer's - after early success writing novels that did little more than let readers know how smart they were, both pursued more substantive and honest forms of non-fiction. McGuane is admittedly a great stylist and there are passages that you will underline out of admiration; whether you complete the book is another matter.

  • Kevin
    2019-05-05 12:16

    This slim book is for people who want to be wowed by imaginative use of the language. It's not for fans of the plainspoken story. Plot and character development are secondary to McGuane's desire to craft fantastical descriptions. Nicholas Payne travels West, then to the Florida Keys. He gets involved in a hairbrain business scheme to build a tower for bats to solve a mosquito problem. He also gets involved with Ann, who's not a wise choice for a lifelong mate. Another over-the-top character also is pursuing Ann and intends to do harm to Payne. The author wants to be funny but I think I laughed out loud just once at the zaniness. The title is indicative of the juxtaposition of dissimilar words McGuane favors in his showy writing.

  • Jesse
    2019-04-21 10:55

    Bounding, gleeful, slaphappy, this book reminded me of nothing so much as Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49, which I loved when I was 19. I wish I'd read this at the same time-- I was still mightily amused by it, by its stupendous and ridiculous language and wordplay and humour, but I've gotten old enough, I think, to get tired of lunacy more easily. By the time there's a 30-some-page plot detour about severe haemorrhoids in the last tenth of the book, I began to wonder why exactly I'd loved the beginning of it so much. Still, it was fun and terribly well written, and reading is never quite as good as when it's carefully crafted and a genuine good time. It just lacked something to make it hold perfectly together as the comparison to Pynchon made me hope it would.

  • Steve
    2019-04-28 06:15

    This is a sort of trippyConfederacy Of Dunceskind of story, and I get a strong Ignatius Reilly vibe coming off of Nicholas Payne. This is quite a bit darker, a little less slapstick and far more erudite, no doubt. (I can never articulate why Kerouac's On The Road continues to leave me flat, but I think I'm probably disappointed that it's not more like The Bushwhacked Piano.)

  • Jennifer Collins
    2019-04-21 12:14

    Quirky and busy, this is a novel that will either pull you in from the beginning or never quite catch your interest. Simply, it's rather what would happen if Dennis Johnson were to work at capturing the most mundane and unlikable of characters, and with a focus on the ordinary details rather than the spiritual or emotional ones which might engage a reader anyway. There are some interesting moments, to be sure, but nothing at all to really engage a reader in the future of the plot or the characters, or drag one back for more from McGuane. Nothing I'd recommend, I'm afraid.

  • Rich Gamble
    2019-05-12 05:10

    This is a really slow and laborious read - you need to be a walking dictionary to follow what’s going on, such is McGuanes insistence on being deliberately and unnecessarily verbose. I stuck with this the whole way through and its not all bad - the story of crazy dude Nick trying to win over his chick Anne’s folks and make a living building bat caves with some crazy amputee hick is passable. The two stars are for some really great and smartly humorous sentences McG drops in his yarn but these punctuate an otherwise average text and I certainly wouldn’t put myself through it again.

  • alex
    2019-05-15 07:15

    Despite being frustrated throughout (to the point where I was tempted to throw it at a wall several times and did give up on it for awhile), I powered through this thing and I don't know if I should have even bothered. It seems at points as if it might get better but it never really does. The flaws have already been noted by many others here, but the most glaring is the fact that all of the characters are so unappealing that you aren't invested in them (or what happens to them) at all. The breathless post-beat style has been done well by so many others there's no reason to bother with this.

  • A-ron
    2019-04-21 04:00

    Wry novel of a rebellious young man blundering his way through life. There is a quote at the beginning of the novel which sets the tone best, "When the sea was calm all ships alike showed mastership in floating." Which is to say all it takes is a rough life for a regular person even with their heart in the right place to wander from the norm of American expectations.My father bought this book for me I suppose in consolation for a rough patch in my life.

  • Jon
    2019-04-29 09:59

    From the author of 92 in the Shade, a great (?) story of poor plans executed badly. In the great tradition of some of my favorite 70's films, a genre that might be called American Existential Absurdist comedies like Pocket Money and Emperor of the North Pole.

  • Mike Voss
    2019-04-24 07:16

    My favorite author to date. I found this book in college while looking for a contemporary road novel. This IS IT. Playful, imaginative writing within the classic tale of boy meets girl, girl rejects boy, boy stalks her from coast to coast. McGuane is a less maniacal version of Tom Robbins--Or perhaps Sam Shepherd on mesculine.

  • Jim
    2019-05-21 07:17

    This is a book that you read as much for the sheer beauty of some of the sentence's. You read the occasional sentence, or paragraph, with your jaw agape. Then turn around and re read it just to be sure read it right. Then you read it just for the joy of it. This said, it is also a very funny novel, replete with Bat Towers, and and Hemoroids. What more can you ask for?

  • eric
    2019-05-13 06:05

    Just randomly picked this up at the store and really enjoyed it. It's all about the writing here, although I enjoyed the weird story and thoroughly strange characters. Sort of Pynchon-lite -- much more accessible for the most part, but you still get really interesting writing. Also it's only 200 pages long and reads fast. I will seek out more of this author.

  • Scott
    2019-04-20 07:05

    Unconventional novel in that spare, second half of the 20th century style. A bumbler's tale of unwise choices in the name of love. I think it starts with the loser protagonist breaking into his uppity girlfriend's house in the middle of the night.Very original and funny. Wouldn't work as a movie, it's all in the telling.

  • David
    2019-04-20 09:13

    The word "wild" is the best thing I can think of to describe this book. The language is wild, the characters are wild, and the story is wild. It's a very fun read, and yet it is still touching when it wants to be. McGuane definitely has his own way of writing. It makes for a very interesting work.