Note: I got rid of a bunch of stupid reviews. If you wanna see what the little dickweeds had to say, go look for 'em at Amazon. G.
Note 2: Here's a review Amazon didn't stick up...don't ask me why...maybe 'cause Jeff Bezos is the dipshit of the universe. G.
Review of Ginny Good by Gerard Jones, June 27, 2010
Don't let any negative reviews, apparently written by candy-ass cretins with rose-colored contacts screwed into their eyeballs, keep you from inhaling this most excellent book.
Ginny Good is by far the best thing I've read in a long, long time. I couldn't put it down.
Few American lives are stranger, more action-packed, or wilder than the life of Gerard Jones, who lived in the San Francisco area during the Vietnam War, and the parallel scene going on over in the Haight-Ashbury district.
Uproarious and unpredictable, this oral biography chronicles in a wonderful prose style the turbulent life of Jones in all of its uncensored glory: the creative frenzies, the love affairs, the drugs and booze and fights and police arrests and ultimately, tragic suicides.
The main character, Ginny Good just happens to be the first hippy. I found it especially refreshing to recall the hippy lifestyle; eat healthy, do yoga, take care of the earth (What happened to these grand ideas? If the hippies would have stayed the course, maybe the gulf wouldn't have big blobs of oil in it right now?)
Ginny Good was bright and beautiful; much like the book cover, an ethereal flower in the blue sky. Ginny was also bat-shit crazy. Being in a room with Ginny Good was like trying to light a firecracker in your hand and calculating how fast to throw it before it blows up. Some people like playing with fire and the author obviously did. Ginny Good was also the sister of Charlie Manson girl Sandra Good. God threw that one in just for good measure.
Gerard Jones always told Ginny he'd write a book about her and he did. An awesome book, a triumph for her and the author as well. Where ever Ginny is right now, I know she is smiling. I know she is very proud of this little gem of a book.
Aww. That was sweet. Thanks! G.
Originality at its Best, March 21, 2010
If you are incapable of appreciating original thought and a playful, truly original writing style, then by all means, go hither to the library and find some NY Times bestselling author to appease your limitations. Because Ginny Good is a romp of a read, with the kind of natural comedic timing that makes you feel like you're listening to a story being told by a friend, maybe while sitting in your backyard together watching fireflies buzzing around and drinking a beer.
Though the story is set mainly in the 60s and 70s, and certainly captures some of the cultural flavor of the times, it is a life story and a love story. Ginny Good is a flawed person, as are all the characters in the book, and the author does a rare thing with his characters here - he doesn't push you to judge them, he presents them with their charm, their quirks and their failings, and lets you react as you choose ~ love them, hate them, pity them, loathe them, do what you will with them, but do it on your own terms. That kind of original authorship is priceless. Authors so often force you into siding with characters, and I often end up tossing the book within 50 or so pages because of that kind of weak, manipulative writing.
Read this book with an open mind and heart and you will enjoy it as I have, laughing and crying and wincing, remembering another era long lost, remembering youth and lost loves with that stinging pain/pleasure of nostalgia. A delightful, unique book.
An American Classic, December 20, 2009
A good friend raved about a book called GINNY GOOD, written by somebody named Gerard Jones. On his recommendation I purchased it from Amazon. I was so impressed with the writing that I went to Jones website and learned he had a hard time getting this work into print. I'm glad he kept trying, because his struggle has given us a remarkable memoir/novel. This book was so exceptional I read it all the way through and never once touched my Blackberry.
Let me advise you that there is something magical and illuminating about GINNY GOOD, but, in opposition to the luminescence there are many dark passages. The narrative voice is generous, humane, and full of humor. You have to go back quite a few years to find a book to compare it to. There's a certain tone that reminds me of Salinger, which is a purely emotional response. My opinion is hardly defensible because Salinger is an elitist who managed to appeal to a large audience, and Jones is a writer whose work was informed by such great literary populists as Henry Miller and L. F. Celine. GINNY GOOD should appeal to the reading masses, but it was put out by a small press and I don't think it was ever promoted or reviewed by important publications like the New York Times.
The creative writing teachers will tell you it's not wise to kill off two of your major characters, but Jones does it in GINNY GOOD and manages to make it work, which is indicative of his writing chops. This book has stayed with me and I believe it will appeal to a lot of people, even the people who complain about the quality of US writing.
Ginny Very Good, February 20, 2006
Reviewer: M. Heldt (Chicago)
If you order this book hoping for a trippy-hippie fairy tale, you are going to be disappointed. More than being about the 60s, Ginny Good seems to happen in spite of the 60s: "It was groovy. It was far out. It was over."
The characterization is the real meat of the story. At times brutally funny, at other times emotionally devastating, this memoir-esque novel follows the thread of three friends as they weave in and out of one another's lives. Each of them seems to be wondering, "How can I settle into a normal life after this?" They always want too much from one another, and the fallout of their entanglements is often catastrophic.
Jones strikes the tone of someone whose experience was so authentic that he does not need to sermonize or idealize it. The 60s happened like every other decade, and people happened along with it. His narration is excellent, and his direct, punchy sentences effortlessly carry the load of every emotion from bleak absurdity to childlike wonder. For anyone who has ever loved and lost or simply wondered, "How do I go on after this?" Gerard Jones shows us that time doesn't heal wounds so much as language does.
Outstanding!, July 23, 2005
Reviewer: T. Lyn "book lover" (East Tennessee)
I just finished Ginny Good, and it's one of the best books I've ever read. I'm an incorrigible bookworm - not a day goes by that I don't read - and I've read many excellent, moving books. I've read books that made me cry and books that made me laugh. I've read books that made me both cry and laugh, by turns.
But of all the books I've read, Ginny Good is the only book that had me simultaneously crying my eyeballs out and laughing my head off. Several times throughout, in fact. In a word: WOW.
I could throw out adjectives on top of adjectives to describe Ginny Good - delightful, insightful, witty, sad, thought-provoking, mind-expanding - but I'll stop there and say this in lieu of more adjectives: to say that Gerard Jones can write is to say that Claude Monet could paint.
People: read this book!!
Hey, T. Lyn, you's exactly who I was aiming at when I rote the thing. I talk about King Lear a lot, sort of subliminally throughout the book, and Shakespeare has a line in there somewhere: "His flawed heart--Alack, too weak the conflict to support--twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief, burst smilingly." That's a slick emotion to have pulled off and every now and then, when I read what someone like you had to say, I get the feeling I done pulled it off. Thanks. G.
Life piling on., March 1, 2005
Reviewer: D. Breneman (New Hampshire, USA)
As a writer, I'm familiar with Gerard Jones because of his extremely helpful website, which provides names and addresses (postal and email) of literary agents, and reveals his running dialogue with hundreds of these agents who looked at his book, Ginny Good. I decided to buy his book partly out of a sense of obligation to him, partly out of curiosity, and partly as a gesture to his perseverance and sense of humor in the face of an un-ending barrage of humorless and, often, arrogant rejections. I didn't expect the book to be very good. It is good. It's very good. I've never read a book like it. (This is probably the literary agents' problem with the book, label-addicted as they are.) It's non-fiction that reads like fiction. The characters are compelling and fully drawn. Their weaknesses are exposed in the beginning, and as life piles on, with hit after hit, you're waiting for that final hit, the one that will finally crush their courage, their thirst for life. You know it's coming. You have to watch it happen. Jones's breezy writing style is deceptively good throughout, and often superb. This is not merely the definitive book about the underbelly of the sixties' love generation, it's a book with enormous heart. I'm not surprised to see that Jones has attracted a few negative reviews. He's irritated a number of people, not with his book, but with his website--where he says exactly what he thinks about everything, all the time. As I read Ginny Good I thought I could see how he got that way. It's a terrific book, one that's destined to be a classic.
Aw. My hero. Maybe now I'll be less cantankerous for a minute or two. Thanks. G.
Incisive mind at work, October 30, 2004
Reviewer: Robert Cope (Australia)
I read the reviews. All of them -- after I read the book. What I found in Ginny Good and neglected/missed in the reviews, or wrongly read as "a wandering mind, drifting narrative, acid trip, blah blah" is the work of an incisive mind. The literature alluded to, for example, from Abelard to Willow is exacting. This is a great mind at work. Don't be fooled by this author. He is precisely clever. His cleverness can be missed easily as the word by word cadense is rhythmical, a delightful read.
Dam strate; dat's what I knows too. I honestly believe that people have no clue how to even read anymore due in large part to good writing by someone who has something to say taking a total back seat to the simple-minded glitzy claptrap and pure crap some smarmy editor and some smarmy agent can get together and publicize among their smarmy book reviewer boyfriends and girlfriends enough to sell however many copies it takes to make a profit during the course of a month or two. Thanks. G.
If you stole my car and left my book inside I thank you!, October 30, 2004
Reviewer: L. E. Kepner (Spanaway, WA USA)
I procrastinated this year in buying my son's Halloween costume. He talked me into going to Party City and fighting the crowd for the best looking tough guy outfit- guns or knives had to be part of the whole look. I was dreading it- I wanted to hand him twenty bucks and send him inside the store to fend for himself. Why not? I could sit outside in my big warm honey of a car and read Ginny Good in the parking spot in front of the store. (I was at a really good part too- chapter seven I think.) Well, I pride myself on being a great mom, so I left my book on the seat and walked into the madness with my Zach. It took him seventy-three minutes to find something I could talk him into. (A pirate with a huge hat, a fake parrot on his shoulder and lots of knives hanging from a belt--don't give him too much candy if he comes to your house, I will be the one to suffer).
Anyway, it was dark when we left the store. My car was gone. Thugs had taken it. I don't know who they were, but I walked that parking lot searching for my book. I mean, my car. OK, dangit, I wanted my damn book. I have insurance, but I wanted my book! Well, I guess I had just parked it where I didn't think I had, or whoever took it returned it unharmed, and left Ginny Good right on my seat. What a relief. I adore this book. I hope Gerard Jones writes more because I will buy whatever he writes.
Oh, man, you did say "damn," and Amazon let it slide. What's this world coming to? You've got your priorities straight, anyway, kids first...cars come and go but a good book and a good kid is hard to find. Thanks. G.
A mostly true example of pure fiction, October 27, 2004
Reviewer: K. Yoder
Gerard Jones has written a book, a mostly true book. The story of the hippie culture is appealing to some and a turn off for others. But, it is the style that keeps the reader linked to Ginny Good. The story is basically about the experiences that life pulls us through. It is about reflection, humor, confusion, and strife. But, mostly, Ginny Good is about the human condition and the power of the human spirit that is at its best when displayed through humor. This is Gerard Jones first book, but I am expecting others to follow quickly. This author has much promise and expect to keep hearing his words-and if you listen, you will be pleasantly surprised.
That's a decent take on my little book but why should I fiddle with the other books I've written when nobody has read or reviewed the first one 'cause the publisher doesn't have a big publicity budget? People read only what they're told to read and they only get told to read what someone gets paid to tell them to read. Ah, Bartleby. The roots of humanity are rotting in the love of money. G.
Five Stars Easy!, October 22, 2004
Reviewer: Robert E. Levin "Author, Robert Edward Levin" (U.S.)
Whether this book is true, partially true, or a complete lie is insignificant. What is significant is that Gerard Jones is a novelist of grand measure. If you want to be entertained, and I assure you this book is entertaining despite "rarany's" recent review to the contrary, by all means pick it up. What you will read is not only a wonderful story colored by an array of wonderful characters, but the brilliance of Jones himself. Ladies and gents, the dude can flat out write. Read it. Love it. Tell your friends to read it, for they too will love it. And when you're done... read it again... the book's narrative excellence deserves it.
Gerard Jones, I tip my literary hat to you.
Oh, man, you're my hero in thousands of ways...I bet that "rarany" dickwad didn't read the thing. He or she is probably a shill for the silly, superficial, shortsighted, self-absorbed, simplistic, shit-for-brains publishing industry...the AAR and PMA more than likely chipped in to hire the twit to say stupid stuff about my beautiful book so their respective memberships wouldn't come off as quite such idiots when it comes to representing or publishing books worth reading or writing. Ha! It's gonna take more than that. Or maybe she's that chicken Michiko or that ever so clever Kipen goon from the SF Chronicle who ought to be falling all over himself about the best San Francisco book ever writ. Oh, well, those who can't write have to rag on those who can, I guess. Thanks. G.
Two times a lady., September 5, 2004
Reviewer: N. Jendrick "NJ" (USA)
I just wrote the greatest review of all time. Really. It was the best. Awesome. Utterly amazing. Then when I pushed submit I got an error on the Amazon.com page, and when I pushed back, it was gone.
It took a three week trip to Europe for me to decide I was willing to do this again. In a sense, take this as a testament to how good this book was. Worth the effort.
At first I didn't like "Ginny Good." I didn't like the book as a whole and the character annoyed me. I couldn't believe they published this P.O.S. And after thinking Gerard Jones was a bi-polar psychopath who couldn't keep a story straight and kept having to use "Oh crap, hold on..." I finally realized it was genius.
I was born in the 80's, forget the 60's and 70's. But you know? This book gave me a taste. A real feel good taste of the crap that went on back in the day. I liked it. The detail in this book is so fluid you hardly notice you're picking up every color and shape and size and forming images so vivid in your mind you start to wonder if *you* are on an acid trip. The characters, the author's friends and family, are intriguing. You wonder what they'd be doing now together if all were still breathing. During the book, you wonder what they're doing when they aren't being talked about. They're not wasted pages like most supporting cast members--they're meaningful.
The story ends how all stories end: Happy. Sad. Horrifying. Unanswered. Perfect.
And that's how this review will end.
Other people freaked out at the first several chapters, too, but you're right, it was total genius...or at least it was pretty close to exactly the way I wanted it to be. Thanks. G.
Engaging..., September 2, 2004
Reviewer: ZeldaFitz (Massachusetts, USA)
To be honest, I wasn't too sure that I would like this book. The '60s are possibly my least favorite era. (The '70s coming in as a close second, but at least I have some nice childhood memories of life before VCRs, DVDs, CDS, and other things known only by their acronyms. But I digress.) But after a few pages of Mr. Jones' engaging, breezy writing, I was completely drawn into his memoir of his days in the '60s West Coast (another culture completely foreign to me). Gerry, Ginny, Elliot, et al. are drawn with such precision and vividness (is that even a word?) that the reader feels that they, too, are part of this world. And the more I read, the more I found that the time and place of the book didn't matter -- it could have been any time, any place. The charismatic, tragic Ginny might have been Zelda Fizgerald (indeed, she says she wanted to be Zelda), she might have been Marilyn Monroe, she might have been Frances Farmer...it doesn't matter.
Ginny Good is one of the finest books I have read in recent months, on a par with perhaps Michael Chabon's portraits of Pittsburgh in Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys.
Pick it up, read it, absorb it, enjoy it.
Back to the Sixties, August 27, 2004
Reviewer: George Rabasa "George Rabasa" (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Gerard Jones shows that you can remember the Sixties even if you were there. This is a story that is astonishingly true in its lush recreation of places, flavors, sounds, and people. Going beyond the easy takes of flower power and free love, Ginny Good captures the very soul of an era. It's characters, lovingly recreated, some long dead, achieve a kind of immortality in their remembrance. In the process, the story is by turns hilarious, sad, provocative, revealing. This is an honest, brave book.
Ginny is definitely GOOD!, August 26, 2004
Reviewer: Felicia Sullivan (New York, ny United States) - See all my reviews Reviewed by Jennifer Leblanc for Small Spiral Notebook
Ginny Good is a page-turning memoir in which Gerald Jones paints a fascinating, sad story of San Francisco in the 60's.
Jones has written an ode to a real-life girl named Ginny Good, claiming he knows of proof that she was the first hippie. "There's a picture of her in the school paper at San Francisco State," Jones claims, and the first use of the word "hippie was in the caption to that picture." On New Years Eve in 1962 Jones and his friend Eliot Felton, a disturbed green beret, meet Good at a jazz club, not knowing the effect that chance meeting will have on their future, individually and together. Good is a child of divorce, a "goddamn icon," a drunk, a rape victim and someone desperate for love in the turbulent 60's, which, as Jones explains, was not a good time for anyone, never mind someone with Ginny's troubles. But Jones and Felton can't help me drawn to, loving and taking care of Ginny Good for well over a decade. Her presence disturbs their relationships, their minds, their lives but Jones writes of her so affectionately that he obviously considers her worth every last trouble.
The characters go back and forth between being thoroughly unlikable in obnoxious, hippie ways or too sad and abused by life to arouse anything but pity. These weren't just a bunch of cartoon-ish hippies with flowers in their hair. These were people with pain and love and dreams who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The 60's were mainly about avoiding responsibility- everyone openly living rent free, raising even more dysfunctional children, and hurting those around them. But Jones's description of the time, down to the smallest details, is fresh and different from any other 60's portrait out there. He notes,
...the whole hippie thing was over by 1966... It had nothing to do with the war or civil rights or free speech. All that riding around in flower power busses was the commercialization of the experience... all that was nothing but advertising by people who'd already taken acid to get other people to take acid, and by then the advertising was getting mistaken for what really went on. A few minds got blown on acid. That's it.
And speaking of acid, the sublime, mystical, breathtaking scene with Ginny in the woods on acid is worth buying this book alone. Although this is Jones's debut novel, he has a real flair for prose. Lines such as "chalk dust hovered in shafts of early morning sunlight" fill the tale with vivid images. For the writing, for the 60's, for Jones, and above all for Ginny, this book deserves to be read.
It's Gerard, actually, not Gerald. And you don't have a bio for Jennifer Leblanc. You should. She did a good job. Thanks. G.
A Work of Art, July 11, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Lake Bluff, IL USA
It's been a long time since I picked up a book like this, one that I could not put down until it was finished and then had to read it again. Words flow, the prose so well-crafted that at times I put aside the story and just enjoyed the way the words were strung together. The tale is funny, sad and oftentimes incredible, but Ginny Good is definitely worth owning.
Hey, someone from Lake Bluff, IL likes my little book. Yippee! I think I'm gonna move there. Thanks. G.
"Blows the mind.", July 4, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC United States
That this book isn't getting more attention is a shame. All the garbage that's published and reviewed and here sits a gem of a book, largely ignored. I'm not going to summarize the book, you can read it yourself. I will say, however, Jones, like all great writers, has a keen insight into the human condition. He's also a great cultural critic, has a clear perspective on a period in American history. And for as self-centered he can appear at times, in the end, one is left with the impression he's twice as concerned for those around him. A subtext or theme I kept reading was Jones' sincere concern for people, the world. He gets it. "You want to change the world? Be good. Don't fight. Eat your vegetables." In his great praise to literature, Henry David Thoreau wrote, "How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!" Time will be the final judge, but, right now, I'm adding Ginny Good to my list.
Yeah, yeah, YOU get it. Thanks. G.
Simple, Yet Elegant, July 3, 2004
Reviewer: Kelly Wittmann from Chicago
Given the the stranglehold the pretentious, incestuous McSweeney's school of thought has on "literary fiction" these days, one can only consider Gerard Jones' self-professed lack of education a blessing. Why, just imagine--a writer who actually saves outlandish metaphor for scenes in which it's appropriate (such as the first acid trip). Comparisons with Salinger and Twain are not overstated, for Jones has the rare ability to express a brilliant intellect in an accessible, dare I say folksy, manner. I suppose complaints about his women characters being "slutty" are valid, but is that Jones' fault? Who wasn't slutty back then? (Well, my mother wasn't, of course, but on with the review...) The story is certainly a poignant, bittersweet one--I confess I cried at the end--but Jones throws in enough partying and brushes with the famous and semi-famous to intermittently relieve the almost unbearable emotional tension. Though there isn't a plot per se, there's so much meat to this story, and Jones' descriptions are so vivid, that reading "Ginny Good" one almost feels it to be a cinematic experience. All in all, a bravura debut from a wonderful storyteller.
Whoa! Things are getting better all the time. Thanks, man, whoever you are. Wait. I obviously wrote this myself, right? I think I might have needed to know who the fuck this McSweeney guy is in order to have written it, though. So who's this McSweeney guy? Or is it a girl? Thanks. G.
p.s.: I was just being cute about not knowing who those McSweeney's guys are, although I really never read any of their stuff. Someone told me that Eggers book about a staggering ego was okay, though. I'd have to read it to believe it, however, and that very likely ain't gonna happen. G.
I *wasn't* just being cute about what I said about the McSweeney's Crowd. Know what you should read? A Reader's Manifesto by BR Myers. Trust me, you'd love it.
Oh, I know you weren't just being cute about those geeks; I've sent them about a billion emails, all of which were imperiously ignored. I write differently than they do. I have something to say. And you're right about their "stranglehold," but that's the kind of geek stuff the geeks who read that stuff get told is good and geeks have a penchant for doing what they're told to do. If I ever read another book again in my long, long life, I'll check out this manifesto thing. Is it anything like Books in My Life? Did you ever read Call it Sleep? He was kind of a one book wonder--except for some TNY stories later. My literary heroes are guys like Louis-Ferdinand Celine and Nabokov with a little Salinger and Flannery O'Connor and Grace Paley thrown in for voice and some Pynchon and Barth thrown in for not shying away from writing about hard stuff to write about and guys like Malamud and Singer and Bellow thrown in for making hard stuff to write easy to read and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Shakespeare and Poe for some sort of slick language. I don't have any kind of formal education, no, but that's one of my saving graces. You totally nailed all that stuff in your cool review. G.
Literary Gem, June 30, 2004
Reviewer: Laura Strachan from Annapolis, MD USA
It's a memoir. Of course it's self-absorbed. Ginny Good was a real, flesh and bones, flawed human being who had a huge impact on Mr. Jones' life (and the lives of many other people, see the Hank Harrison review below). But the book isn't about Ginny Good, except as the foundation upon which Mr. Jones has constructed an amazing literary work that is part autobiography, part social history, part comedy and part tragedy. She's the unifying element for a compelling tale that stretches from 1950's Michigan to 21st century Oregon. And she's a metaphor for the cultural sea-change that took place in this country during her too brief existence. But ultimately Ginny Good the book is the story of Gerard Jones' life, told with his sardonic wit and golden narrative voice...and it's anything but boring.
(I do solemnly swear that Gerard Jones and I are not the same person, and he did not write the above paragraph, although I will confess to being his agent. That may make me inherently biased, but I wouldn't have taken the book on if I didn't love it and think it would be an important contribution to contemporary literature.)
"...o my chevalier!
No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion."
Gerard Manley Hopkins
An extraordinary book, June 30, 2004
Reviewer: anne29178 from Guernsey, Channel Islands UK
In southern Spain, near the small town of Ronda with its beautiful 18th century bullring, there's an interesting cave called La Pileta. Back in 1970, if you wanted to visit the cave, you had to stand outside it and hope that your shouts would be heard by the owner of a farmhouse about half a kilometre across the valley. If they were, he would come, light a lantern and show you the Palaeolithic drawings on the walls of the cave.
Also visiting the cave, the day I went, was a young American who was clearly a Vietnam draft-dodger. I have often wondered what he did with the life he might have lost had he been drafted to a war [1964-1975] in which more than 58,000 US soldiers were killed.
I was reminded of him while reading Gerard Jones' extraordinary book. Extraordinary because, in theory, it's the last book a publisher would expect to appeal to an English reader of my age and type whose favourite novelists are Patrick O'Brian, Nancy Mitford and Ann Bridge.
The hippie era of drink, drugs and casual sex described by GJ is as remote from my world as if we had spent our twenties on different planets. Yet, despite the frequent use of f-words, and the often exasperating behaviour of Ginny and Melanie, the book made me warm to its author as I had on discovering his amusing and, for writers, valuable website.
He comes across - and this is difficult to fake - as an exceptionally likable man who had the bad luck to fall in love with an alcoholic. Why Ginny, if she loved him, as she appears to have done, didn't seek help from Alcoholics Anonymous [founded 1935] is hard to understand.
Had she not been addicted, and had she supported GJ's gift for writing which clearly she recognised early on, he might have been published long ago. This is a sad, funny, moving but, ultimately, frustrating book which leaves the reader hoping for a more positive sequel.
As the British author Mary Wesley proved by becoming a bestseller in her seventies, Gerard Jones has ample time to become a star author; and clearly he has that essential quality - persistence in the face of numerous rejections.
Anne Weale a k a The Bookseller's Bookworm on the Net
Hey, Anne, that's sweet. Every little turn you take your whole life through is one you could just as easily not have taken and everything would have been utterly different, but it wasn't, it was the way it was, you took the turns you took, like the kid visiting the cave that day. And, yeah, there were 58,000 Americans senselessly killed but let us not forget the 2,000,000 relatively defenseless Vietnamese easily equally senselessly killed. Thanks. G.
TERRIFIC BAY AREA JOURNEY, June 30, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Vista, California
This is a terrific journey through the 60s in the Bay Area and it offers a rare glimpse of the underbelly of the Hippie Scene. The writing is fresh and honest. The narrator is as likable as Holden Caulfield. Jones gets to the heart of what it means to love someone bent on self-destruction.
This ain't a beach read!, June 5, 2004
Reviewer: Gerald L. Dodge from Annandale, New Jersey
Gerard Jones has written a troubling, funny, sad, and self-absorbed novel. This is a novel about real people growing up in the sixties when the old rulesthat seemed so clear and distinctare being blurred by a new social consciousness driven by an unpopular war, and fomented by a generation of kids looking to separate themselves from the generation who raised them with an almost cavalier sense of always being right and virtuous. The result are the characters who parade through the pages of this very important book.
Jones has written an extremely honest book and sometimes reading it, when naked honesty is at the heart of discourse, has the result of discomfort and even embarrassment. We are reminded of how self-absorbed we all were, and it really should be an imperative that all people over the age of forty read this book. We need to be reminded of who we were and why we do what we do now, including making excuses and protecting the generation we are attempting to raise into adulthood. Many of us have become conservative and isolated from new ideas because we failedas a collective social constructat what we wanted to accomplish as young adults. This is evident in Gerard Jones's book, and the despair and emptiness that sometimes these characters reveal is so powerful the feelings are almost palpable.
I was not reminded of any other book when I put this book down, and so I can only come to one conclusion: this is a great and new kind of literature!
Hey, you writ GG up a review at Amazon. Yippee! I wasn't reminded of any other book when I wrote the thing, either. Well, Celine a little, maybe, here and there. But I just basically sat down and told the effing story as it occurred to me to tell it. I kept forgetting stuff. Then I told it again as it occurred to me more correctly. When in doubt, tell the truth seemed to do the trick. And after eight or twelve years of doing that I had enough done to be able to spend another seven years rewriting it to my heart's content...and a year or so editing it after that. Thanks for your thoughtful words. They seem true enough to me. G.
Solid Book, June 2, 2004
Reviewer: chieditor from Chicago, IL
A friend recommended this book to me. And I was pulled along into finishing it by the quality of writing. As an editor of a newspaper. It is hard for me to read novels anymore. I correct mistakes so much at work, it only adds to my job frustration to read them in novels, ironically, usually those novels are bestselling and recommended by John Updike.
Unlike most memoirs where the words, seemed stilted towards maudlin reminiscing, this memoir holds objectivity throughout without the usual cynicism.
Hey, man, I'll take "Solid Book" from a hardnosed Chicago newspaper editor any day. Thanks. G.
At last - a real writer gets published, May 30, 2004
Reviewer: sean wright from King's Lynn, England
Gerard Jones' debut Ginny Good is way more than good - it's great. No, let's not be bashful. It's awesome! Why?
Because its voice really is unique in literature today. With so much formula copy-cat stuff about it's great to read a book that actually means something. To the author, and to me. It's heart-felt, real, and incredibly funny.
If I could give ten freaking stars on amazon I would have no hesitation! Hell, why stop there? Why not twenty! Well done Mr Jones. I hope Ginny Good becomes an international bestseller. Gritty, no bull writing deserves to be read by as wide a readership as possible. Thank you.
(Hey, sean, twenty stars? That's it? Sheesh. Did you see this Guardian thing?
GG still doesn't have a single bona fide book review from a single bona fide book reviewer anywhere in the US 'cause they're all too busy reviewing the latest twit-lit tearjerker about how some chick barfed herself out on too many Oreo cookies and even the Nicholas Clee thing wasn't a review, although he's at least read some of the book. Oh, well. "...Jesus himself testified that a prophet in his own country shall not have honour." I'm thinking about moving to Botswana. Thanks, man. Glad you liked it. G.)
May 25, 2004
(Here's my favorite book review so far, well, next to the one Michiko Kakutani hasn't done yet, of course:)
Hey Gerard, finished Ginny Good today. I put up the promised Amazon review a few minutes ago; it's copied below, just for your edification. I was willing to say it sucked if it sucked. Unfortunately, I absolutely *loved* it. I'm never going to read a memoir again. I'd rather believe stuff that tears at you like that is fictional. Crap... it made "Angela's Ashes" look like a Harlequin Romance. I'm Mormon, by the way. Got a kick out of the surprisingly big Mormon presence in the book, the whole Joseph Smith story and all that. Thanks for spreading the gospel in your own special way... HA!
Heartbreaking and true..., May 24, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, D.C. USA
I stumbled across Ginny Good while ransacking the author's web site about the publishing business. It piqued my curiousity; the excerpt he had up there was good; so I thought, what the heck, and got myself a copy. The first two or three pages, I tolerated. The next ten, I entertained. The following 340 pages I read with such hypnotic absorption that at one point, when my husband came home and I had to set it down to run over and pick up some Chinese take-out, I was pretty determinedly pissed off about it. I *had* to find out what the heck was going to happen with Melanie.
The book itself? It's a memoir, and thus lacks the "plot agenda" of a work of fiction, which turns out to be wonderful. "Ginny Good" is utterly unpredictable, messy, heartbreaking, candid, sexy, angry... breathtakingly real. The characters are vividly alive. The emotions, as Gerard Jones expresses them, are painfully, piercingly on target. The first acid trip scene is a freakin' *riot*. Also, from a cultural point of view, it's genuinely interesting. The way the events of the culture and the world are woven into the story is terrific; it reminded me of "Couples" by John Updike in that way. It runs slow at times, and at times you think Gerard Jones is a self-centered jerk... and as a woman reading it, I wondered if the "mostly true" caveat in the subhead refers to the sexual appetites of every woman in the daggone book. But they're minor points. The book is full of gorgeous, insightful little gems of imagery that I wanted to color with a highlighter. And the ending just *soars*... sublimely perfect. I can see that my copy is going to get all cruddy with thumbprints and soda can circles from sitting on my night table.
I've got three kids, and it's been a long time since I had the time, energy, or room within me to let a book suck me in the way this one did. When I got my copy of "Lolita," years ago, the cover quote was, "The only convincing love story of our century." That was the 20th century, however, and as far as that quote goes, the torch ought to be passed to "Ginny Good."
(Holy shit, is that the best review I ever did see or what? Man, oh man. Wow. Man, like, wow. That's beatnik talk. The whole reason I wrote the book or have ever written anything I've ever written in my life is half to be able to sit down and read a decent book for a change and half to get it read by one of the few people who appreciate a decent book when they read itthere are three of you. I hope the other two find GG pretty soon, too. Thanks. G.)
Real Real Truth, May 18, 2004
Reviewer: email@example.com from Co. Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
Gerard Jones has finally told the truth about life in the early sixties. After years of novels and memoirs that made it all seem like a fantastic ride that no person should have missed, Ginny Good puts things into better perspective. Never boring, never long winded, Mr. Jones has given us a picture of the real life roller coaster of the 1960's, the Vietnam war era and the effect of drug culture on the people who often get trapped inside it. Ginny Good is a bittersweet love story set in the times where free love often won versus true love. Applause for the real truth being told, after decades of fairy tales and wanna be remembrances. Gerard Jones deserves more attention in a world too quick to make fiction a reality. His voice is stunningly honest and wisea relief in these times when one can barely believe the daily news on television.
Like Seinfeld, only better, May 13, 2004
Reviewer: berkeley_reader (see more about me) from Berkeley, CA
Excellent writing and larger than life characters, who do nothing and everything at the same time, and make things like toenail polish and Coty perfume seem beautiful and compelling. If you're from around the Bay Area, you'll recognize the people and places Jones writes about, in your friends, your co-workers and yourself. If you're not from around the Bay Area, you'll wish you were.
Real life as farce, May 10, 2004
Reviewer: vaudeguy (see more about me) from Dover, NJ
Gerard Jones newest book is not just a reading, it is a rollercoaster ride through the unabashed Id of the author. Jones is unashamed to let it all "hang out" as he tells the story of Ginny, and the highs and low of the "Flower Child" generation. His remarkable point of view jumps in a free-assocation way that is remeniscent of James Joyce's "ULYSSES". Unlike Joyce, Jones' savage wit and unforgiving sense of the absurd makes the book humorous one minute and devasting the next.
(Hey, that's a reasonable review. I like it. The book definitely do always seem to go from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again without much say so from the guy what wrote it, I agree. Humorous and devastating, yes, but doesn't life just sort of do that? Like, you know, in general? Thanks. G.)
A powerful memoir and a microhistory, May 8, 2004
Reviewer: S. R., MD from Boston, Massachusetts
Underneath the fascinating and often funny glimpse into Mr. Jones life, is something more than just his engaging voice and the description of the Flower Children of the Sixties.
It is a story of addiction. The story of Ginny's struggle with substance abuse in an age when it was poorly understood not only by physicians but by society.
Drug abuse and addiction in this country became mainstream in the Sixties and here we see the seeds of its origin.
The cast of characters is replete with all those who abuse, manipulate, mistreat and misunderstand addicts and addiction, including the authorities.
More gripping to me as a physician was the look at those who love a victim of addiction and cope with this devastating illness. Here you will find the earnest struggle to help and the wrenching, painful awareness of its futility. This is told with all the puzzled, helpless love that Ginny commanded from her friends.
Overcoming codependency is still the most difficult and rare feat of anybody involved with an addict who rejects treatment. Love is not enough sometimes. Mr. Jones accomplished this without any signposts or support groups. Seeing the process of this enlightenment is a lesson for all of us. No matter what the addiction.
This should be a primer for the NA, AA, Alanon and licensed chemical dependency treaters of any degree. Not only does it add plenty of new insight into the dynamics of this raging epidemic but thanks to the superb style in which Mr. Jones conveys this struggle, it was a lot more fun to gain an increased understanding of his path to wellness.
(That was what this book was about? Who knew? I guess I had to have been a little stupid, too; I honestly had no idea I was doing all the fancy things you saw me doing. The guy did draw the line at some point, yeah, but he had to get to that line before he knew where it was. With heroin addiction it was an easier line to see, but even heroin addiction had mitigating circumstances. Which would he rather Melanie have been? Dead or strung out on heroin for four years? There weren't a lot of black and white courses of action. That created conflicts. They resolved themselves the way they resolved themselves as such things are wont to do. I just got a note from Melanie. She loves the book so far but she hadn't gotten to the parts about her yet. I'd have a hard time being a chemical dependency treater of any degree. I just pretty much don't like drunks. That was one of the lessons I learned, I guess. Other people do. That's their business. I don't. The only edifying or instructive thing I have to say is you do what you do and I'll do what I do. You have to live with you, I have to live with me. Thanks. G.)
Funny, forgiving, a wild ride, May 2, 2004
Reviewer: dankni6 from Los Angeles
Every once in a while you read a book that makes an indelible impression, that makes you to share it with all your friends. Ginny Good is like that. I loved it. Its a chronicle of the narrator's young life during the 1960's and '70s. It reminded me a little of Forest Gump, the way all the random, crazy things kept happening to him and his friends. I'm young, so I wasn't alive in the 60's, but I got a real good feeling of what it must have been like and I wish I had been there.
(Hey, I wish you'd been there, too, but you'd be really old by now. G.)
Ginny GREAT, April 21, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Jericho, NY USA
I don't swoon easily. This book made me swoon.
It's a sort of sweeping epic about the 1960s, but please-oh-please don't think "Forrest Gump." Not that it was a bad movie; it had its own quirky appeal, presenting the swirling, tumultuous, revolutionary era from the removed viewpoint of a simpleton. This book does the opposite. It's the UN-Forrest Gump. It looks at the world of that era from the inside out, going deep inside characters who are as smart and intense and flawed and insane and real as any characters you have ever met. You will fall in love.
And oh-may I continue swooning?-the writing is as straightforward as Raymond Carver's and as honest as J.D. Salinger's. It may be the most unpretentious thing you will ever read.
Did I mention that it's funny, too? It truly is.
At its heart, Ginny Good is about love and friendship. And insanity and heartbreak. And sex and drugs and spiritual yearnings. Stop me. Just go read it already.
(Aw. I'm swooning over your swooning. What a sweetie. It's up at B&N, too. Good job, man. Thanks. G.)
Ginny was my Lover and my Shrink, April 18, 2004
Reviewer: Hank Harrison from San Francisco
Not only did I know her, I loved her, deeply, hypnotically. I met her family, hung out with her Father George and her half sister and her not so whole sister Sandra. I am mentioned in the book, I knew the book was coming out, and if Gerard could just find something other than himself to write about he'd be a fabulous writer, because, in spite of his seeming bitterness, he has a heart, a big one, almost as big as Ginny's, which could of course be dangerous.
Ginny Good is a great name for the book because this woman was, although petite in apearence, bigger than life. Anyone who knew her knew she was a big deal on a small planet. I disagree she was hardly the first Hippy, but she was, without doubt, the quintessential bohemian princess. Get the book and capture the feeling of how things realy were in the Summer of Love. HH
(Hey, Hank, glad you liked it. Not to undermine your recommendation but "The Summer of Love" is dismissed in a paragraph: "Then it was the summer of 1967, The Summer of Love. Scott McKenzie sang his dork song about how everybody ought to go to San Francisco and wear some fucking flowers in their hair. It was far out. It was groovy. It was over. Then it was early October of 1967. The Fall of Love. Ha!"
I devote twenty pages or so to a day in October of 1967, yeah, but what comes before and after it is what the other 337 pages in the book are about. Ginny was all the things you said she was and more, but it was the student newspaper, The Gater, at SF State in 1963, that called her "the first hippie." Oh, and I write about all kinds of stuff besides myself. I'm the most self-effacing person I've ever written anything about...well, except maybe for Ginny's dad. Thanks. G.
PS: For people who don't know who Hank Harrison is, he's a heavy-duty guy who was in on all that Haight-Ashbury stuff from before the beginning.)
Ginny Good, very very good April 11, 2004
Reviewer: csvec3 (see more about me) from Raleigh, NC
I was pulled into this book as if by sneaky undertow. "I'll just read a few pages," I said to myself, and before I knew it, I was on page 100. The book ended before I wanted it to.
I wish I could spend more time in Gerard Jones's head. He has lived a fascinating, freewheeling life that he describes so vividly that he made me alternately love him, hate him, envy him, pity him, but eventually respect and admire him. Gerard (the style of his book makes me think that he would loathe being called Mr. Jones) met and loved Ginny Good--the documented first hippie. Gerry (I'm getting more informal here) seems to have been a sometimes hippie himself, and he chronicles the 60s by exquisite, intimate slices of his own life. His story becomes both mirror to reflect and pool to dive into.
This is not a straight-line narrative by any means. It is Gerry's tangled memories, bolstered by actual diary entries and letters he saved for 40 years. It is an acid trip of a book, and it contains one of the most magical descriptions of an actual acid trip I've ever read. Buy this book; you'll be supporting a real artist.
"Ginny Good" - highly recommended, April 9, 2004
Reviewer: Kathleen McCall from California
If you were in or around San Francisco in the sixties and seventies - or if wish you had been - this is the book to read. Jones' easy, meandering style takes us through his on-again, off-again relationship with "the first hippie" - Ginny Good - and all the love triangles, rectangles, and arcs that relationships create. It's a great story, and set beautifully against a background of the music and morality of that era. Gerard Jones' prose is engaging and makes Ginny a captivating read all the way through. There's some heartbreak, but mostly a lot of wonderful humanity in "Ginny Good." It's a book you'll be very glad you read.
Barnes & Noble
LNR, A reviewer, April 2, 2004
Did Billie Jean and I read the same book?
This is a compelling story, clearly rendered. The style of language fits the voice of the narrator to a T. I found him to be quite a charming character, and he got under my skin in the same way that Holden Caulfield did when I read The Catcher in the Rye so many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it impossible to put down once I started it. Get ready for an entertaining ride and (if you lived the sixties) some serious nostalgia tripping.
Brilliant, funny, heart-breaking Ginny Good!, May 31, 2004
Reviewer: sean10879 from King's Lynn, Norfolk
Gerard Jones' debut Ginny Good is way more than good - it's great. No, let's not be bashful. It's awesome! Why?
Because its voice really is unique in literature today. With so much formula copy-cat stuff about it's great to read a book that actually means something. To the author, and to me. It's heart-felt, real, and incredibly funny. From the books wonderful opening lines ... 'I'm using everyone's real name. They can all sue me.' To the bizarre 'bird' incident in the final few pages, this book sings sweeter than a sky full of nightingales. Mr Jones' prose are tight, considered, and memorable. His characters are vividly portrayed. His experience and understanding of the sixties and seventies means he can create realistic settings. Details, moods, insights. They are all there. You can taste California. Feel those heady times in your bones. Yet Mr Jones' own powerful voice is never far away. His humour is razor-sharp.
If I could give ten freaking stars on amazon I would have no hesitation! Hell, why stop there? Why not twenty! Well done Mr Jones. I hope Ginny Good becomes an international bestseller. Gritty, no bull writing deserves to be read by as wide a readership as possible. Thank you.
(Hey, my first Brit review! Yippee! G.)
A short message...., 31 Oct 2007
By Aj Keogh
I won't spend too long on Ginny Good except to say that it is a hidden gem and in any fair world would have been top of the bestseller lists for a very long time. Just do yourself a favour and go buy it...
Ha! (read the book to see the significance of this)