Read Preston Falls by David Gates Online


"Beautifully written... Gates [has a] pitch-perfect ear for contemporary speech... and... [a] keen, journalistic eye."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York TimesIn this comic, fiercely compassionate novel, David Gates, whose first novel Jernigan was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, sends his protagonist on a visceral journey to the dark side of suburban masculinity, explores"Beautifully written... Gates [has a] pitch-perfect ear for contemporary speech... and... [a] keen, journalistic eye."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York TimesIn this comic, fiercely compassionate novel, David Gates, whose first novel Jernigan was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, sends his protagonist on a visceral journey to the dark side of suburban masculinity, explores the claims youth makes on middle age, and the tenacious --at times perverse--power of love to assert itself.When Doug Willis has a mid-life crisis, he doesn't join a gym or have an affair. Instead he gets himself arrested while camping with his wife and kids, takes a two month leave of absence from his PR job, and retreats to his farmhouse in rural Preston Falls--where he plugs in his guitar and tries to shut out his life.While his wife, Jean, struggles to pay the bills and raise their sullen, skeptical kids, Willis's plans for hiatus crumble into Dewars-and-cocaine fueled disarray. A shattered window, an unguarded gun, and a shady small town attorney force a crisis--and Willis can't go home again. With its biting humor and harsh realism, Preston Falls confirms David Gates as a talent in the tradition of Russell Banks and Richard Ford: a master of dark truths and private longings....

Title : Preston Falls
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780679756439
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Preston Falls Reviews

  • Trina
    2018-09-20 11:57

    Resorted to skimming to get to the end. Characters never grabbed me, and the premise failed to engage this reader anyway.

  • J.K. Grice
    2018-09-02 15:46

    I remember liking this book when I read it, but nothing particularly remarkable about it.

  • Brian
    2018-09-18 11:38

    This is a take on the "straight white suburban male trapped in a stale marriage with kids and having a life crisis" novel. And I know there are plenty of those, but this one stands apart on a few accounts, not the least of which is the more-than-equal treatment of the wife's perspective. The dialogue is exceptional (as noted by critics in their reviews). The straightforward prose reassuringly mimics actual thought in a way that humanizes both Doug Willis and Jean: despite their contemptibility, they are starkly recognizable and strangely sympathetic. This allows, or perhaps forces, readers to remember that we're all just this hurtfully messed-up and tired. As fastidious and bitchy as Jean seems, you get where she's coming from when she tries to keep it together, as a mother, a wife, a woman in the workforce. And as annoyingly ironic and sulky--and as cowardly--as Doug Willis seems when he runs away from his marriage, you sort of feel sorry for him as he screws himself into an adult adolescence that is freeing yet uneviable. But you never feel too sorry. And that's what I really liked about the book. Both Doug Willis and Jean are, for various reasons, convinced they're superior people (echoes of Revolutionary Road here), yet readers are on notice. Are we that much better?

  • Pamela
    2018-09-21 14:47

    You could call this a middle-aged crisis book. The main character, Doug Willis does in fact take two months off work to go live in his weekend cabin in Preston Falls. He doesn't have much direction, just does whatever. What he likes...playing guitar and reading literary books. I mean, who wouldn't. He attempts, once, to fix up the cabin so it's more inviting for his family. But the marriage seems to be falling apart and Willis doesn't have any emotion for or against it. Just whatever. Of course his wife is very annoyed by that and well you can see where this goes.It was an okay book, I'd say the the writing is better than the story. You want Willis to actually do something about figuring out what he wants. He just seems to do this, then that, either being led by people he barely knows then freaking out about it. Hard to recommend this to anyone, and three star rating is probably too much.

  • John Pappas
    2018-08-29 13:06

    Willis's white suburban male ennui becomes exacerbated by a cocaine and whiskey fueled unraveling as he takes a two month sabbatical up at his weekend home in Vermont. Leaving his family to twist in the wind while he engages in his experiment in perpetual boyhood, he ends up half-heartedly pulling a "Wakefield"- living less than a mile from his family and contemplating the meaning of his absence while falling further and further into a drug-addled escapist mindset. A meditation on meaning, loss and marriage that stands out from similar tales of disgruntled and entitled men. Wonderfully written and irony drenched satire of the aimlessness of the aging white suburban male.

  • Jake
    2018-08-26 12:44

    It's weird that David Gates doesn't get mentioned in the same breath as the Jonathan Franzens of the world, because he can clearly play with the big boys of upper-suburban angst.I'd never heard of Gates until a good pal suggested Preston Falls, and it really nags me that he flew under my radar so long. I love Franzen and Richard Russo, and Gates writes a dirtier, less forgivable (and by turn, more annoying) version of disintegrating, disenchanted family life. I wish my friend would have warned me about how goddamn bleak Preston Falls is, though. Yeesh. Even The Corrections and Freedom throw you at least a LITTLE uplift.

  • Carol
    2018-08-26 12:40

    Several years ago, I remember reading this novel late into the night and howling with laughter. Afterwards, I recommended it to my friends and family, who thought that it was a terrible book. I’m going to re-read this one. Maybe the passage of time will change my opinion…or maybe I just have a twisted sense of humor.

  • Bob
    2018-09-14 12:03

    I liked this book to a surprising degree.

  • Robert
    2018-09-05 13:06

    Kind of similar to American beauty. A guy is fed up of his life and then rebels against American society. Funny and fast paced but not too memorable.

  • Frank
    2018-09-04 07:46

    I picked this up because I liked the cover and ending up absolutely loving the book and the characters. The narrator is so delightfully a dude and it's so smart and oddly charming.

  • Tracy
    2018-09-12 09:47

    started out hating the characters and not understanding why i was continuing to read the book, then I started liking the book, although the characters still made me cringe....

  • Michael
    2018-09-01 15:38

    Did not finish.Just couldn't get into this story.

  • Julie Barrett
    2018-09-20 15:44

    Preston Falls by David GatesThis story is about a family, man wife and 2 kids. They travel to VT for their weekends to get away from the city.Jean the wife is tired after working every day to drive 4 hours to get to the weekend house.Willis the husband is on a leave, unpaid and is at odds with himself. After relatives leave early things fall apart for them.She leaves with the kids to camp out one night before heading home because school starts. Willis ends up coming after them, gun in the truck along with the dog and gets into trouble and ends up in jail.Story continues and we learn about the past as the kids grow older year after year. Roger is the oldest and has a mind of his own. Mel is a teen also and has her way of getting things done.Interesting to learn about the northern town but I found a lot of abusive vulgar swearing-so unnecessary to get the point across.He goes through his mid life crisis and she goes to find him, having no idea where he'd be...Liked walks through the woods and other places described. I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

  • Adam Wolstenholme
    2018-09-25 15:50

    I've recently returned to this and it stands up well on a second reading. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, Gates is a master of close third-person narration. Of course the protagonist is an absolute nightmare (those who need to 'like' the characters should steer well clear) but he's an intriguing one. The minor characters are vivid, especially the Saul Goodman-esque corrupt lawyer, and there's the self-consciousness that Gates did so well in Jernigan, as the characters watch their own minds at work, casting a doleful eye over their thought processes and motivations. That Gates can take such badly behaved characters and make them so absorbingly, disturbingly entertaining is the mark of a great writer. Though not one who will be to everyone's taste.

  • Paul Thomas
    2018-09-22 13:46

    This was a well written book about the years of a marriage then the fun is over and it's just work for all involved. A mid life crisis for both the husband and wife. Will they make it through? It is never quite clear. The Author did a good job of making both parties pretty unlikable. The guy is insensitive, immature and not much of a father. On the other hand, his wife is a raving bitch. So, who knows? The writing was very pretentious at times. I'm not sure if it was to drive home what a pain in the ass both of these people are, or if the author just wanted us to know how well read he is. Literary reference is common, but he way over did it by having his characters discuss random books that most readers will not be familiar with. I sure wasn't. There is the possibility that the lengthy references were mirrors of what was going on in our story, but that would be giving the author too much credit, and it would be too hard to follow.Anyway, a god, quick, engaging read, but could have been edited more.

  • Sue
    2018-08-31 16:02

    Another book I hated/loved to read. [Imagine reading about a marriage dissolving on labor day weekend...] I thought the dialog was perfect in places, the tiny ways family members can bug each other, how familiarity can breed contempt. Painful. [I thought some of the wife's thinking to herself and then second guessing herself, or saying something and then thinking something else, was true to life, and certainly the man's whole take on life seemed true to life, based on what I've seen and heard.]It does seem like just a tale of a sad, too self-centered middle-aged man and his decline, unless we remember as one Amazon reviewer pointed out that the author references all those epic journeys: The Pilgrim's Progress, Lord of the Rings, Parsifal. I don't see the resolution of Willis' journey, though--not sure if/what we're supposed to take away from this long strange trip he's on, unless it's just to see how life feels for a modern man with wife and children (that is, trappped and burdened, as evidenced in the epigraph taken from The Pilgrim's Progress: "So I saw in my dream that the man began to run...his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears and ran on, crying "'Life! life! eternal life!'"The author references so many books, including Dickens for the husband, Jane Austen for the wife. I'd have to go back through to see what they all mean. The book seemed to nail the man/husband/father's horror and panic when he looks at his own [stuck] place in life, and also to nail the woman/wife/mother's acceptance of and dependence on her own place in that same life, albeit without the joy that we would like to think attends it. Though she is over the top in places, like the Halloween candy in separate bags, I think the author did a pretty good job of representing life as the wife might see it, and not making her a total bitch. I like this line for her: "Meaning what? he says. "Meaning I sometimes think there's something to be said for not having quite this daily level of unhappiness." The kids certainly didn't feel the joy, either. Is that a symptom of modern life specifically? It's not just the suburbs.Main characters: [Doug] Willis, Jean Karne Willis, Mel, Roger; Champ and Tina; Carol; Calvin, Philip Reed, and band members. I read it because it was on Colin Firth's bookshelf on what he said about it piqued my curiosity. He said he likes the possibility of reconciliation at the end (something like that), but I didn't see it that way, but maybe that's one way to take it when she sees him walking after they split: "Where on earth could he be going? Well, it's none of her business anymore, he's made THAT clear. And, in fairness, she's made it clear too. She's not his business, he's not her business. As if they were back to being any two people. Isn't that the meaning of this? But look at him, walking away: that's Willis, absolutely."

  • Ubik 2.0
    2018-09-22 09:43

    DerivaDopo essermi imbattuto (con scarsa soddisfazione) in alcuni romanzi che trattano di massimi sistemi socio-politico-economici con ricchezza di dettaglio e indubbia abilità nell’inventare e articolare distopie ben congegnate, ma scritti con un linguaggio banale, sciatto e superficiale, ecco che mi capita un libro che si pone all’esatto opposto della narrativa.Una storia come tante, che trova l’unico elemento “alieno” nel contesto suburbano statunitense (ma si sa che gli americani ci hanno colonizzato anche l’inconscio per cui riaffiorano alla memoria film e libri in quantità come se Chesterton, NY fosse casa mia…) ma nella quale è difficile non riconoscere parti di sé stesso in personaggi che sembrano avere smarrito lo slancio vitale per ritrovare motivazioni a proseguire nel lavoro, nel matrimonio, nella vita.Un libro tristissimo insomma, e non so come faccia il curatore dell’edizione italiana a parlare in quarta di copertina di “humour”, chè la malinconia, il risentimento e il disincanto prendono il sopravvento sulla vita di Doug, lo spingono a decisioni insensate, a reazioni violente e autolesioniste, a non muovere un dito per salvare il salvabile.Preston Falls (dal nome della località del Vermont, dove è ambientata una parte del racconto) è soprattutto il frutto di uno stile narrativo particolarmente accurato, costruito sulle emozioni molto più che sugli eventi, con richiami a Richard Yates e al John Williams di Stoner, forse meno “perfetto” di questi illustri precedenti, perché le incombenze della quotidianità (la scuola dei bambini, gli impegni di lavoro, le presenze di zii e vicini di casa) spezzano di continuo il ritmo della lotta contro la disperazione strisciante. Di David Gates in Italia è pubblicato solo un altro romanzo, Jernigan, e mi riprometto di verificare quanto prima se questo autore è davvero così ingiustificatamente sottovalutato oppure se sono io che ho preso un abbaglio…

  • Derek
    2018-09-23 08:48

    Writing in brisk, fluent prose, Mr. Gates chronicles the day-by-day, almost minute-to-minute actions of these characters over a period of two months: we see exactly how they make tea, how they do the laundry, how they trade sarcastic remarks and how they avoid conversation. The effect is similar to looking at an exhibit of works by a Photo-Realist painter. We see a succession of snapshots that show exactly what someone's life looks like, from their car to their house to their taste in clothes. There is no past or future in such portraits, just the flashbulb glare of the present.In the case of ''Preston Falls,'' this approach has its limitations. Mr. Gates not only writes in the present tense (in emulation, perhaps, of John Updike's ''Rabbit, Run''), but also confines most of his remarks about his characters to the here and now. Except for some vague allusions to Willis's difficult father and plans Willis once made to quit his job and find more meaningful work, the novel tells us almost nothing about its characters' pasts: we never really understand what brought Jean and Willis together in the first place or why their marriage began to sour.In theory, this narrative strategy might sound pleasingly cinematic, but in practice, it deprives the reader of the sort of emotional history that might make Willis a less static and more sympathetic character. As it stands, we have little context for Willis's adolescent behavior (his reflexive put-downs of Jean, his callous disregard for his children, his sophomoric escape into alcohol and drugs) and so he remains, throughout the novel, a self-indulgent, self-pitying jerk, a small black hole at the center of what is otherwise a beautifully written novel.

  • Lauren
    2018-09-03 08:06

    I decided to pick up David Gates "Preston Falls" after finding out that Nick Hornby (MY favorite author) admires his writing and said Gates is the reason he became a writer. Naturally, I was expecting some similarities in these authors writing styles.Not only was "Preston Falls" one of the most boring, uninteresting books I have ever read, but the writing style is appalling! Every other word is set in italics, so the words that are set in regular text end up standing out more than the italics. The characters are flat and underdeveloped and convenient that the one African American character happens to be the poor drug dealer. The main character, Doug Willis, is supposed to be this Manhattan intellectual, but just because he picks up an obscure book once in a while? Besides reading, he's a gun-wielding cokehead who has a run-in with the law, and buys a beat up pick-up truck during his mid-life crisis. Intellectual is the absolute last word I'd use to describe this character.Sorry Mr. Hornby, I won't be reading anything else written by David Gates...

  • Jamie
    2018-09-24 13:05

    This review is more for me than any one else, just so I remember the book later. I stopped reading a little more than half way through. I had a very strong disliked for both the writing and the characters in this book. The author overuses italics and profanity for emphasis which makes him seem lazy. Also, the lead character is drawn to be shallow, unfunny, and unintelligent, yet we're told he's supposed to be a decent guy going through a crisis. This would be a situation where it would have been better to show than to tell. I picked this book up after seeing Kate Christensen's Epicure's Lament compared to it. Christensen's book is far better though. Her lead character, also and anti-hero, is funny and human, while still being deeply flawed. You get the sense she truly understands and empathizes with him. In this book, the character's ugliness is not redeemed or demonstrated to be anything but childish and horrible. Why the author decided to share this person with us is never made clear. I felt polluted after reading it.

  • Lara
    2018-08-27 16:02

    These poor schmucks. When the relationship transforms you into a creature that you would never want to be around, so why would anyone else? Willis is so self-consciously clever and wants so much to be regarded as clever, that nothing genuine comes out of his mouth, and only rarely enters his head. There's a heartbreaking mention of him making a flippant remark and then glancing over at the wife to see if she had noticed his biting wit, but she has had enough of him. And Jean is so worn out with disappointment... her section of the book was very hard to get through, which made its point about the soul-crushing drudgery of trying to work/maintain the house/deal with some horrifyingly obnoxious kids and hippie-dippy sister. They have no quality of life. I read the word 'deal' many many times in the book: Let's just deal, we'll have to deal, I need to deal, we can deal. Their lives are just a never-ending series of circumstances that have been/should be dealt with. Sad.

  • R.Joseph
    2018-09-12 10:41

    First off, David Gates has a way with words. Unfortunately, his words and his straightforward approach towards a mid-life crisis fail to save this book. I do not hate the book; however, the secondary characters in the story are all stereotypical in nature. However, what had me the most upset/disappointed is the way, all throughout the book, that Gates portrays the main character as an intellectual person who is not one of those lame sports watchers. Yet towards the end of the book, Gates allows the main character to talk baseball, recall old player’s numbers, etc with an elderly black man. How is this possible? Gates main character is an intellectual fellow. Better yet, why did Gates need to include baseball in the conversation between an intellectual white person and an elderly black person? Could it be another typical/easy stereotyping blunder by Gates?

  • Matt
    2018-09-22 07:47

    I never thought I would find myself speed reading through a writing of David Gates. Normally I cherish each word, I let it take me into the characters shit life they are trying to figure out. I just couldn't feel like I was watching the character Willis, and I sure couldn't feel like I was getting a back road tour of Preston Falls either. I feel like Mr. Gates was trying to do all of the opposites in this book so it would be hard to say he was trying to recreate Jernigan. Different narration, different styles and sadly wordy is not a right word to describe it. Just when the conflict was getting good you would be put into 30 pages of nothingness, a black void of words you knew but could give a damn about. I still love the writing of Mr. gates but hope he finds a new form for his next book or hell, I would mind a rip off of Jernigan.

  • Miriam
    2018-08-29 08:43

    I'm not sure I'm being fair giving this book only 3 stars. I enjoyed the writing style - straightforward, true to contemporary, like, speech - kind of uber prose. It is well-executed also, just too stressful for me and the characters altogether too unlikeable. Doug and Jean Willis are unhappily married and fairly unhappy in general. Doug is like a middle-aged preteen, totally self-conscious, no self-control; he's constantly angry and feeling put-upon and reading about him was trying. Unfortunately Jean has only moments of slight likeability, mostly she's just irritating and irritated and their two children, aged 8 and 11, are just as bad.

  • Malcolm
    2018-09-12 12:39

    The characters are all well drawn. The short-tempered disappointed wife. The mid-life crisis dad with anger issues and faded rock and roll dreams. Hippie/mom sister-in-law. The conflict that leads the dad to ditch his life is interesting, but the book never really goes anywhere with it. I can accept endings that leave major plot lines unresolved, but it seems to me the author simply didn't have any insight into the motivation of these characters so he ended it arbitrarily. Worth reading for the characters and the cultural references.

  • Steve
    2018-09-08 10:00

    High 2. Escaping the pressures of his professional and private life at the family vacation home at Preston Falls, the lead character, Doug Willis, narrates the first half of Gates’ exploration of mid-life crisis and marital breakdown. The author crams the novel with great dialogue but little plot, and it is only in the second half, when the narration switches to the perspective of the abandoned wife and her attempts to cope with the repercussions, that a more convincing character analysis is achieved.

  • Gerry
    2018-09-03 07:36

    With a most-unsympathetic main character, this was a book I slogged through only to get through it -- certainly not one to recommend. The tragic protagonist is a real jerk -- selfish and narcissistic -- who takes a leave of absence from his job and his family, gets involved, stupidly, in drug dealing, and ends up hiding out in a motel just miles from his family home. Meanwhile his wife and children are left to deal with the fall-out of his “disappearance” and try to maintain some semblance of “real life” while he’s off playing out his fantasies of what might have been.

  • Tami
    2018-09-11 14:37

    i have a habit of buying books at the goodwill rather impulsively. often they are awful and i redonate them. i am trying to be more selective. this book was an impulse purchase, based on the nick hornby praise, and i am determined to give it a very honest the dialogue seemed a bit too self satisfied but the angst was there in bucket loads and I am nothing if not a fan of angst. fucked up words shared and choices made and results which follow... yeah. that's what I like.

  • Jennifer
    2018-09-09 09:58

    My first exposure to David Gates. Took me about 100 pages to settle in because the language seemed too pushy and harsh for the situation; additionally, italics are way overused. The female character, Jean, doesn't really get a fair shake until fairly far into the novel. But the book is ultimately a searing insight into a disintegrating marriage. Detailed attention to the characters' surroundings adds great depth to the portrait.

  • Tamsen
    2018-09-25 10:42

    Did you know you could use italics to emphasize things? Well, David Gates knows, and he emphasizes about eight (no exaggeration) words per page. There was 338 pages in this horrific novel, and I winced every time I saw italics. It may have been the single most painful reading experience in my life.