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The Bewildered

Cover of The Bewildered

The Bewildered

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A riveting novel about electricity, skateboarding, blindness, friendship, and the hope for something new. In Portland, Oregon, three high school friends—Leon, Chris, and Kayla—skateboard beneath the Burnside Bridge, study languages and classical music, and try to avoid the superficiality they witness in the world around them. The only adult they suspect might hold secrets worth knowing is Natalie—a strange, forgetful woman who hires them to illegally harvest copper wire from electrical lines outside the city. The three friends become intrigued by Natalie: her odd behavior, her obsession with the Playboy Playmates of 1976, the exposed wiring in her trailer, and her seeming ability to subsist on Tang and beef jerky. The more they learn, the less they understand. When a disastrous accident leads the three on an adventure through underground tunnels and into the back rooms of Chinatown, they discover a remarkable group of people who are almost impossible to recognize, yet possess unique needs and powers. And the friends are not alone in attempting to study, use, and perhaps even join the ranks of the bewildered. BIO Peter Rock is the author of the novels This Is the Place, Carnival Wolves, and The Ambidextrist. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

A riveting novel about electricity, skateboarding, blindness, friendship, and the hope for something new. In Portland, Oregon, three high school friends—Leon, Chris, and Kayla—skateboard beneath the Burnside Bridge, study languages and classical music, and try to avoid the superficiality they witness in the world around them. The only adult they suspect might hold secrets worth knowing is Natalie—a strange, forgetful woman who hires them to illegally harvest copper wire from electrical lines outside the city. The three friends become intrigued by Natalie: her odd behavior, her obsession with the Playboy Playmates of 1976, the exposed wiring in her trailer, and her seeming ability to subsist on Tang and beef jerky. The more they learn, the less they understand. When a disastrous accident leads the three on an adventure through underground tunnels and into the back rooms of Chinatown, they discover a remarkable group of people who are almost impossible to recognize, yet possess unique needs and powers. And the friends are not alone in attempting to study, use, and perhaps even join the ranks of the bewildered. BIO Peter Rock is the author of the novels This Is the Place, Carnival Wolves, and The Ambidextrist. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 14, 2005
    Oddball teens and even odder adults people Rock's quietly mysterious latest novel (after 2001's The Ambidextrist
    ). Bonded by their disdain of their superficial peers, 15-year-olds Kayla, Chris and Leon spend their free time skateboarding along the gray Portland, Ore., streets and stripping copper wire from telephone poles. The latter activity they perform on behalf of a very peculiar woman named Natalie, who lives in a beat-up trailer and who sells the wire to a creepy guy named Chesterton. When Leon is badly shocked on one wire-hunting trip, the adolescent trio figure they ought to get to the bottom of the project; the book's first half follows them on their pursuit of Natalie as she reconnects with Steven, a colleague from her corporate past, and indulges her pastime of dressing up like a 1976 Playboy
    playmate. What they can't figure out is her obsession with electricity and copper wire. Leon begins to act strangely, and the plot takes a turn for the weird when Chesterton's experiments with the wire are revealed. Rock never quite establishes the lure of the experiments to the various secondary characters, and the novel as a whole lacks tightness. But Rock does a fine job fostering a sense of foreboding in his strange world of outsider's Portland, and each member of his ensemble cast has his or her own eccentric appeal. Agent, Ira Silverberg
    .

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