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Audio Book Reviews

March 17, 2016

I've decided this is my favorite review. Someone named thommalyn wrote it in 2006. G.

I've been listening to a real treat: The Audio Book of Ginny Good by Gerard Jones. I read the book last year, and it was the only book I had ever read that had me simultaneously crying my eyeballs out and laughing my head off.

I'm happy to report that it still holds that place of honor.

Right along with the audio version.

Actually, the audio version is even better. You see, I've always had it in my mind that the very best writing is meant to be read out loud. In fact, it begs to be read out loud: its honesty, its rhythm, its carefully-chosen words and nuances, the shades of meaning that emerge like butterfly wings from a chrysalis. Excellent writing is like an onion with infinite skins: enjoying it from different perspectives reveals subtle but exquisitely-formed layers you never dreamed existed.

Gerard's voice is the perfect complement to his prose. His style of storytelling -- both writing and speaking -- is unpretentious, relentlessly truthful, and shockingly beautiful. The listener experiences the stark recognition that all great art brings: "Yes, I've felt this, and this, and this, too." Gerard is talking about his life but not only his life: he speaks to the absurdities, agonies, and ironies that transcend any individual life -- those things are universal. That's what the very best storytellers do. They speak to us about what it is to be joyfully and painfully alive: they acknowledge life as a sexually-transmitted disease and life as its own numinous reward.

Ginny Good is a memoir as finely crafted as any novel. It's the story of Ginny Good, a gifted, wild and woolly young woman. According to Gerard, Ginny was the first hippie, and much of the story deals with the real hippie movement, not the media-manufactured one. And Ginny Good is Gerard's story: his story as a young man. But above all, it's a story of love and friendship and how life hurts and is hilarious and sad and gorgeous all at the same time.

The music clips Gerard includes throughout are a delight. They're interwoven seamlessly throughout the story and its telling. Sometimes a music clip follows an obvious referent: for example, when Gerard talks about his high school romance with Donna McKechnie, he weaves in "Donna" by Richie Valens. But the clips are always evocative and add depths of feeling, truth, and understanding to an already well-layered, thoughtful, brutally honest story.

It's hard to pick a favorite chapter, but Chapter Nineteen, La Honda, is a real trip -- pun definitely intended -- and Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar lend the perfect touch. And oh my goodness: Chapter Thirty-three, Scenic Hills. As intense as it is in the book, it's even more so in the audio version. I can't imagine anyone being able to listen to it all the way through, capped off as it is by Handel's "For I Know My Redeemer Liveth", without dissolving into a glob of goo, braying laughter like a donkey (referent definitely intended ;)) and sobbing as if their heart would break.

And to boot, Charles Bukowski (one of my favorite poets) makes a brief "guest" appearance. His poem "Bluebird" has a similar effect on me as Ginny Good. There are books, poems and pieces of music that move a person so deeply that language is inadequate to describe that movement. The best thing to do is to sit back, feel it and revel in it as a blessing, and marvel that the world offers such joys here and there, in rare and precious places.

The Audio Book of Ginny Good transported me to a world I'll happily revisit again and again. Thank you, Gerard, not only for sending me something I'll always cherish but for gifting the world with your amazing talent.

October 31, 2016

This is tied for my second favorite Amazon review. G.

One of the most devastatingly beautiful books I've ever read
October 30, 2018

I was ten years old in 1969. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. My family spent one weekend at least every two months during the late 60's early 70's visiting San Francisco. I had a stack of underground newspapers that had been handed to me by hippies in SF in my room in Santa Clara that I read and cherished. I openly told anyone that asked me that I wanted to grow up to be a hippie from the age of ten to probably thirteen ('69 to '73).

Now it's apparent that many of those ideals of the time were not what they were claimed to be. Peace, love and communal living was not the answer to society's problems. Woodstock produced 14 tons of garbage in three days. Half of which is still reportedly mired in the mud on what was Yasgur's farm. And of course Joan Didion's 'The White Album' probably properly proclaimed the end of the hippie era occurring when the Manson family perpetrated their murders in Los Angeles in 1969.

It was through my interest in the Manson murders that I found the book 'Ginny Good'. Virginia (Ginny) Good was the sister of Sandra Good, one of the most dedicated members of Charles Manson's 'family'. Gerard Jones, the author of Ginny Good, appears to have written this book for Ginny based upon his relationship and love for her in which he proclaimed in his earliest interactions with her that he intended to write a book about her. Much of what is included in this book Jones claims are the actual letters he wrote to Ginny as proof that his intentions of writing such a book were true. But I think (and I think he would probably admit), he was doing so just to get closer to her.

He finally completed the book in the early 2000's. It's a slice of his life and his impressions of his living with Ginny, and other friends and meaningful love interests. It is a tragedy. One written so well that I count this book as an equal to my top five books of all time. I have to re-read it every couple of years. And due to the writing gift that 76 year old Gerard M Jones possesses (not the recently convicted 61 year old Gerard E Jones - two different people), this book relates a multi faceted devastatingly beautiful tragedy of those times. I read this book every two or three years and it possesses me, messes me up for days every time.

Gerard Jones in this effort is a genius. His prose is unbelievably captivating, creative, lays himself nakedly bare and is unrelentingly, bludgeoningly constant. He does not analyze his experiences and observations against the social upheavals of the time like Didion did. Jones' effort in Ginny is more of a relating to these experiences as they affected him in his life at the time.

Ginny Good is an awesome read. A book I don't pack into a box because I want to see it every couple of years and remember to read it again. And I don't lend it out. I believe there's a movie in this book that has to be made.

May 17, 2014

Dear Gerard - I just watched the beginning of one of the best movies I have ever seen with my eyes closed. It is truly already a classic, or at least seemed like it should be. Fifteen Mile was just a teaser, but without knowing what else is ahead, it gave meaning to why that word was created.

The reason I am taking the time to write to you is because I was able to escape to your world in a vivid, visual encounter that captivated my attention. It took a couple of minutes before my admiration kicked in, and I was stuck having to listen, even though I had so much else to do. I will over time continue to listen occasionally as I find time, and will certainly tell those who would appreciate such talent and entertainment about my experience. I realize it must be long, but it is so good that it has to be seen, and I visualized every scene. Maybe HBO or some other venue that can over time tell the whole story, because after one chapter there is a craving for more.

When I said one of the best, it could be the best. It was such a complete and entertaining story that allowed me to escape and reminisce and enjoy a very worthwhile thirty-five minutes of time that I didn't think I had.

Thank you so much, and please understand that this has impact beyond whether you care if people listen or not. Good luck and God speed.

January 25, 2014

Hi there, Mr Jones, I just want you to know that I stumbled on your book by chance - and that I have recommended it to everybody I can think of. I found it funny, sad, very reminiscent of the craziness of the period you describe. It remains, along with John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, a book that I will read again and again. I have both the audio and print versions: what a narrative voice and what wonderful choice of music! Thank you for a great pleasure.

April 28, 2007

It's mesmerizing. Thank you! Yesterday I was listening to another excerpt from your book with the same joy. Whose voice is it? He reads it so well – it sounds like poetry sometimes and it conveys the beauty and power of your language. Most importantly, it plays masterfully, but very softly, with the depths of your subtext. The whole thing is very visual. I listened to it again today. It's poetry - the whole thing. Your images grow from each other, expanding and turning into something else, like the ever-living picture of a self-developing universe. And your stylistics - the rhythm, the music, the repetition of words and segments – are in harmony with the enchanting pictures. No wonder the major agents and publishers didn't take your novel!

January 7, 2007

My Year in Reading 2006

Best book: Gerard Jones's Audio Book of Ginny Good. A delight. I'd already read and loved the book-book, but the audio book is simply not-to-be-missed. The musical clips Gerard includes throughout enhance both the story and the from-the-gut emotional reactions you'll have to whatever you're listening to, whether hilarious, sad, or both, and Gerard is one of those rare and magical storytellers who'll have you laughing your ass off even as you're crying your guts out at life's joys, tragedies, mundane horrors, and absurdities.

Four more:

LOVE the audio. Love the story and love the music on the audio. Haven't heard some of those songs in years, but I remember that music and suddenly realized that I missed it. Your website's pretty awesome too. Keep doing what you're doing. You're good at it, and you seem to be enjoying yourself. That's about as good as it gets, I think.

Whatever I said so far about The Audio Book of Ginny Good was, if not wrong, surely less than adequate. Thanks to you (sheesh) I've been taking personal inventory, putting it down on electronic paper, and having the time of my life, as they say. Even though you almost certainly had no intention of inspiring anyone, that's what you did. The Audio Book of Ginny Good really was a work of art. Art for anyone, and magic for me.

I've spent the last week or so listening to you reading your book on your web site. It has been a long time since I felt so completely sucked into a world that a writer has created. Some long time ago, I spent a year at the South Pole and got into reading The Alexandria Quartet, and read the whole thing over four days. From that, I still have images of the markets of Alexandria in my mind, and from you I see Golden Gate Park, although I've never been to Egypt and I know SF rather little. Anyway, yours is a great book.

Gerry you fucker what a great book. I enjoyed listening to it as much as you obviously enjoyed reading it. I have to admit I was apprehensive about a non-publisher narration and the multimedia aspect (from both a production and an interruption-of-story aspect) but I kept an open mind and you acquitted yourself magnificently. I know you are becoming unspeakably wealthy with your website, so I'm about to PayPal you $50 for a signed copy of Ginny Good. The Brainbell Jangler

Book Reviews

December 24, 2009

Gerard, I got GG from Amazon and read it last night. This book should be a classic of American literature. I particularly enjoyed the magical side of your writing. The acid trip was so brilliantly described it made me feel like I was down in that burnt out redwood stump. It takes a real master to transform a visual, mystical experience into words that mean anything. You did it. Congratulations. Loved the spider theme, and the Thumbelina at the end where Ginny and Elliot are tiny and full of light and swinging around on vines. Also liked the teen sexuality, which, if my recollections are correct, seems accurate and funny. The whole teen section was great and studded with lovely period bits like Coty perfume and Yma Sumac, and Chet Baker Sings. I still listen to Chet. Although Ginny was the doomed goddess, Melanie was the character I related to. That junked out threesome was priceless (I guess it really wasn't a threesome). It's a beautiful book, full of wit and humanity, and I assume the only reason you couldn't get it published was because you had no MFA literary connections. Or, because the quality was too high. I am so pleased you put some writing from Celine on your site. He is my all time favorite author. Sad story, though.

Oh, anyone with any branes who read the sucker loved it too but that comes to a total of four people so far, including you...that's fewer than one person a year since it's been published, which is fine with me--one person who knows how to read is better than ten trillion who don't. L'Aimant by Coty, yes, not much compares to true love forever when you've just turned sixteen. I think it was Tinkerbelle, but Thumbelina would have done the job if she'd been in town. Celine's been my literary hero since Ralph Wood stole me a copy of Journey to the End of the Night from the basement of City Lights. The audio book is better than the real book 'cause it's got snippets of music and voices to go with the words, like Chet Baker actually singing My Funny Valentine, and I read them the way I wanted them to be read. My favorite thing about the whole book is that it's out of print and I got all the rights back from the publisher, plus a bunch of books for fifty cents apiece. I kind of liked the funeral scene, but the ones you mentioned weren't bad, either. Thanks. G.

Oh, oh, here's the index to the audio book so you can see who sings and says what where:


August 18, 2007

Yeah, you were right , I was getting to the really good parts...I have read non-stop last night until about 4am, just couldn't put it down at all...then I sat here a long, long time in the living room and just held the book ...Holy shit!!!...it's by far better than I expected but I'm so exhausted that I need to sleep. It's a real tour de force all right...So much different from the first half of the book somehow, so frighteningly honest and so many levels beyond levels, I am just speechless for right now. It does remind me of Salinger and "Catcher in the Rye" and "A perfect day for a bananafish" and other maybe Chekhov and my beloved Kafka. I'll write tomorrow, need to digest it...

Nobody ever read any Kafka while he was still alive, either. Someone said it was like Salinger after he grew up...I liked that, I've got nothing against Salinger whatsoever...or Grass or Celine or Nabokov or Flannery O'Connor, etc., they're all way better writers than I could ever dream of being; I just do what I do the way I do it and that's plenty. You'd really like the audio book, just 'cause of the music and the rest of the historical context. It's sweet to find someone who liked my little book. That, I admit, is partly why I wrote the sucker although just the writing of it and making the audio book for my own exquisite reasons was fun, too. Oh, the first half's supposed to be different from the last half so people can see what changed...that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Thanks. G.

June 27, 2007

I am grateful. I am satisfied.

Cool. Me, too. G.

December 9, 2006

gerard, thanks for sending me a copy of "ginny good" and please know that i not only enjoyed reading it but felt it belongs in high schools, colleges and public libraries the world over. the rich writing and your amazing attention to details (were you taking notes in the 60's?) were remarkable. powerful stuff, not that it will save anybody's soul like a good verse of bible but it certainly presents a unique slice of life circa the late 60's and somewhat beyond that should be understood if only as a cautionary tale for any future 'me' generations. not to say that we didn't live our lives out fully and deeply and richly but some amount of restraint would have done us good and ginny.

Yeah, it's a cautionary tale as well as a good book but nobody pays much attention to either of those things anymore. People have to figure stuff out for themselves. I didn't pay much attention to cautionary tales when I was a kid; if I had I wouldn't have had a cautionary tale to tell and wouldn't have written such a good book. Thanks. G.

September 14, 2006

Gerard, At first I liked you just because of your website. Then I purchased Ginny Good and read it during my classes for a few days. I've just put it down about 2 minutes ago. So perhaps the fact that I felt the need to write you can speak for itself. By the time I finished it I wanted to cry then thought "This is just a book!" then swallowed the lump in my throat and re-read the last page. I guess it's got to be annoying...publishing a memoir-esque book and having people contact you thinking they know you..bleh, I'd hate that. I don't know what else to say but I want to keep typing. I'm glad there is someone like you out there (who I don't even know but feel a connection to). I guess that's always a sign you're a good writer, when genuinely introverted people crawl out the woodwork sending you emails of appreciation.. Ahhh I don't know what else to say. "Ginny Good" changed my day, my WEEK. It made me feel all squirmy in my stomach and god it must've been amazing to trip in the red wood forest. (I think I actually chuckled outloud in my astronomy class when I read about you tearing open the pinecone curious to find what all the fuss was about) Ok well, I've stolen enough of your time. Take care.

August 14, 2006

"Ginny Good is wonderful. The characters are real, the tone is perfect. I think the acid trip in La Honda is the best description of a trip I've read. I especially liked the end of that chapter when you see the tree stump the next day. You got the whole thing. So many scenes are like that. Ginny and Melanie and Elliot and Wendy--all of them seem like people I might have known. You're the best character of all--both smart ass and tender, sometimes lost, naive, but most of the time smart & always curious about what's going to happen next. I did laugh and I did cry. Sometimes I laughed out loud and the last third of the book I read late into the night. Thanks for creating that world and getting the book published so I could read it. Keep hyping it! I will too. I'm going to order another copy that's not signed so I can lend it out. I haven't listened to the audio version yet, but am looking forward to it."

June 6, 2005

From Grumpy Old Bookman:

"...I find myself with a problem. I want to be complimentary. In fact more than complimentary: I want to demonstrate that this is a book that I admire enormously. But the simple fact is that the language of praise and enthusiasm has been so cheapened and coarsened by years of overuse at the hands of publicists that the words no longer mean anything. Worse than that: they evoke a contemptuous curl of the lip.

Suppose I were to say: brilliant, wonderful, moving. The trouble is, you've heard it all before. And the last time you read a book with that sort of endorsement on the cover, you weren't too impressed.

So, let's skip the shorthand compliments. I will just say that this is a remarkable book. I enjoyed reading it, and I recommend it unreservedly..."

If you wanna read all the rest, click this:


January 1, 2005

Editor's Choice, Best of 2004, Number Nine, pfssh...if she would've called it "fiction" it would've been Number One.

August 27, 2004

Hey, some chick named Nina L. Diamond just wrote up some big feature story about me and my little website and Ginny Good in Independent Publisher. Check it out. "Way Cool: Gerard Jones Finally Gets Published!"

July 17, 2004

The Satellite
N. Central Florida
July 7, 2004

By Gerard Jones
Monkfish Book Publishing Company
357 pages, Trade Paperback, $16.95

Commit a subversive act—buy this book.

Author Gerard Jones is an Internet character. His web site, "Everyone Who's Anyone in Adult Trade Publishing," is about his hilarious guerrilla war on the publishing industry, largely focused on his efforts to find Ginny Good a home at a large, prestigious publishing house.

That didn't happen. Instead, Ginny Good comes from a small, independent publisher and Jones is aggressively marketing the book via e-mail, interviews and any other under-the-radar tactics he thinks might work.

You should buy this book because the author is a crusader against that monolithic conglomerate-heavy world of big-time book publishing. But this is more than a mere indie-publishing jihad. This is a wonderful book.

It's either a memoir or a novel—we can't be sure—about coming of age in San Francisco in the mid-1960s, with a cast of characters including the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary—the whole Hee-Haw Gang, as a matter of fact.

It reminds us that the great book about the counter-culture of the 1960s is Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which focused on Kesey—a celebrated young novelist on the run from the law. Other characters Wolfe wrote about in that book were also formidable writers: Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove), Robert Stone (A Hall of Mirrors) and Hunter Thompson (Fear and Loathing Las Vegas). When he got the contract to write the Acid Test in 1967, Wolfe thought, "I'd better write this book fast before Kesey or one of those other guys beats me to the punch and writes The Great American Novel of the 1960s."

All of this is to say that Jones, with Ginny Good, might have finally produced the novel that conveys the hope, desperation and eventual disillusionment of that time and place.

Jones presents Ginny Good as a true story with no names changed. In fact, he invites lawsuits (any publicity being good publicity), in part to bring his long-lost acquaintances out of hiding and back into his life. Virginia "Ginny" Good was the love of his life, his muse, his emotional tormentor. She was also—in Jones' view—the first hippie, and the sister of Manson family member Sandra Good and an irrestible soul.

It doesn't matter whether this story is true or not (Jones calls it "mostly true"). In any memoir, lines between recollection and re-creation are often blurred. But Jones recounts the moments in rich, evocative detail. Rarely do you see a sense of place conveyed so vividly. It's a story to hear, see and taste.

Though he accepted the ethos of the 1960s on its surface, the maddening and irrepressible force of nature that was Ginny Good continues to haunt him these many years later. She was a free spirit, but although he tolerates her prolific gang of lovers, he wants her to himself.

To describe the "plot" in too much detail would diminish the book. In the end, this book is about voice and it's Jones' voice that carves this book into the reader's soul. It's like a long evening of fascinating conversation and recollection. Though not a short book, it can be read in one gulp—it's so seamless and effortless and is obviously the work of a tremendous craftsman.

You could buy this book on Amazon, but as former President Nixon used to say, "It would be wrong." Keep to the spirit of the book. Go to Goerings, Books, Inc., or Omni (or another independent book store of your choosing) and ask them to order Ginny Good. It will be worth the wait—and it will be your revolutionary act for the day.

William McKeen
Chair, Department of Journalism
University of Florida

July 11, 2004

"Ginny Good is 350 pages long. The first 50 pages should have had more rework than they got. So sue me, Gerard. The last 100 pages are a tour de force...

"Gerard Jones, an adopted West Coast writer, records some part of what it was like to live through the hippie movement as a participant in Ginny Good from a viewpoint Tom Wolfe can't reproduce...

"I was expecting a wannabe trying to coast on image over the whole thing, but insofar as I remember what went on, he's got it right: a very brief constellation of addlepated idealists, nice college kids, Lumpenproletariat, not-so-nice college kids, narcissists, psychopaths, crazies, addicts, nymphomaniacs, neurotics, runaways, poseurs, wealthy idlers, drifters, opportunists, and hangers-on that was almost immediately dissipated in relentless media saturation and tourist-trappery, coordinated by impresarios who became rich beyond the dreams of avarice...

"The only stable, actual marriage in the account is his own parents', and he describes his father's final illness and his funeral at the end of the book. The kind of love that sustains the stable family relationship he has in Oregon seems to be the one positive value he can endorse...

"There's an anti-moral, artistic tension here that I like a lot. There's no cure for the bourgeois condition, much as the New Age quacks hovering in the background of Ginny Good may claim, and no cure for its antidote. What we often see as a useful distraction or an antidote to the middle state
the sentimental love cultis a destructive snare and a delusion, just in case you didn't know, but sometimes it can be fun, if that's what you're into. This in itself isn't satisfactory as a controlling philosophy of life, but that's not what art is necessarily there for. This is what I like about West Coast writers: they're the ones who've been putting out less respectable, less self-conscious, less correct art. This is the sort of thing that will keep our literary tradition going, as opposed to the academic sort of novelists. In fact, for a while I thought the fire of literary creation had gone all the way out. In this book I think I see a coal still glowing in there somewhere."

—John Bruce, July 11, 2004

(If you want to see the ever so rare online changing of a mind, read the entries (and the comments) of July 2, 2004 and July 11, 2004 here. There are some in June too, if you get fascinated. G.)

Reader Reviews


Note: If you want to see reviews at Amazon, go look at 'em.

Note 1: Here's another review the dumb motherfuckers at Amazon didn't stick up. G.

'Ginny Good' review, July 19, 2018

I may hold the record for how many times I've read 'Ginny Good' but with the Audio/Visual for the first time, this book I've enjoyed reading over the years goes from a Really Good to a Great experience for me. You have to get this Audio/Visual so you can actually hear the voice of the author Gerard Jones and the inflections that gives you so much more understanding than the words alone. Hearing the music that connects the feeling of the times lets you remember how it was to live during the times of the '60's.' Visually seeing the pictures of the people, the times, the places, puts you there as if you were part of it.

My advice is to get the Audio/Visual and along with the book, you will more than enjoy the '60's' experience again, or to bring a new experience to those of you who have only heard about them.

If you are from Royal Oak, Michigan as I am, and one of many in Gerard Jones' graduating class in 1960, even to have myself moved to the San Francisco Bay area during these times, and sadly to say understand what it was to spend a large part of life loving an alcoholic, you'll more than 'get' this great read. Also let me mention the reference to Mrs. Miller. She flunked Gerard which I think was a mistake, he's way smart enough, just spoiled. Mrs. Miller however was my favorite teacher. I hate remembering extensive history dates, who cares except maybe the year, so I cheated and put sticky notes with dates on the desk in front of me. Mrs. Miller kept me after class one day and said, "I know your cheating, I don't know how you are, but I don't think you have to." Boom, I never cheated again and got an A+ in Senior Government. Gerard now says if he had been Mrs. Miller he would have flunked his ass too, but he'll never convince me there wasn't a better alternative. We learned valuable lessons from Mrs. Miller, those of us who stayed awake in class which Gerard says he did but with his eyes closed. Sure. Mrs. Millers lessons included "Never believe what you read as someone else will be writing just the opposite, and only believe half of what you actually see." Maybe Gerard wasn't asleep as he quotes that in the book. "Never trust a politician as most are self-serving." Wow! "History always repeats itself especially in government." Some things never change no matter the years. Double Wow!

We all had pretty much led good disciplined and somewhat innocent lives up to turning eighteen in 1960. Some like Gerard with way too much testosterone but he was so cute, he was more than ready for the life of living the times of the rest of the 60's in San Francisco. If you lived them too you'll remember the 'Times of Love' and why so many young people were searching for it. You'll feel part of the 'Horrors of Vietnam' the people of the 60's tried to live with, and why describing it was only possible with the four letter word 'F', so don't be offended in its use, as those senseless times were not describable any other way. If you didn't live in the 60's, you will reading this book. I will continue my reads of 'Ginny Good' again some day soon I hope, but now with my Audio/Visual which has made such a big difference. If you want an Audio/Visual, ask GJ how to get one. Thank you again GJ for your many kindnesses.

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.

Note 3: Here are some other Amazon reviews I liked:

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.

February 15, 2014

I first came across references to Ginny Good in an article about how the Internet has changed publishing practice. Then I discovered the author's website, everyonewhosanyone.com and downloaded a free audio version of the book recorded by the author and interspersed with wonderful choices of music. I liked everything, the author?s gravelly voice, his jokes and witty sides, the story itself. So I bought the book on Amazon.
I'm giving the book a 5-star rating for three reasons. First, it's one of the best books about the sixties I've ever read. Second, it's also beautifully written. Third, there is the story itself. I want to expand on those three reasons a little.

First, the sixties. There has been a lot written about what the 60's really meant, whether the culture of the sixties was a "good" or "bad" thing, whether the sixties initiated greater social and personal freedom or were just a period of mere hedonism that left no long-term traces. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it was really like to live through this period. The book shows what happens to a small group of friends caught in the maelstrom of the period. They explore drugs, sex, rock and roll, mysticism, and communes. They have casual encounters with people who were either already famous or destined to become so in the future. One aspect of this period that I found surprising and delightful was how much people read in those days. The heroine, Ginny Good, reads Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet aloud to the narrator. There are references in the book to Tolkien, R.D. Laing, Thomas Mann, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and many other writers. This book deserves a place in every university library for its authentic evocation of the social history.

Now I want to talk about the writing and the story. The author has a feisty, very light touch and offers some excellent one-liners. The style is so light that sometimes the reader does not notice how skillful it is. He can summarize a character's personality in a line or two, as this description of Ginny Good shows:

"Her father sadly loaded his books and his golf clubs and his stamp collection into the trunk of the second car and drove away two days before Ginny's fifth Christmas and left the sound of the car driving away reverberating in her brain and rumbling through the pit of her stomach for the rest of her life."

Ginny Good is beautiful, charismatic, and the victim of seasonal descents into drinking and folly. The book centers on the narrator's attempts to survive her bouts of uncontrolled promiscuity, to rescue her from the absurd but dangerous situations she throws herself into. He is the only one who can "manage" her during her periods of psychotic breakdown.

"It breaks my heart still after all these years to know what Ginny would have been if she hadn't been such a schizophrenic drunk. She would have been a god damn icon. She would have had followers, worshippers, acolytes, an entourage. She would have given Zelda Fitzgerald and Anais Nin and Isadora Duncan and Josephine Baker a run for their money in the memorable chick department. She was the first hippie, for one thing. I've mentioned that. Yeah, well, she was. I have proof. Documentary evidence. You could look it up."

The book reads like a comic novel, and it is only as the events build up to various moments of crisis that the reader understands that beneath his own tears of laughter there are tears of quite another kind. One of the characters, Elliot, describes a mystic experience. His description of that is also a very good description of the reader's emotional reactions to the story being told.

"'There's nothing to get," he said. 'That's the point. It was just a feeling. Laughing. Crying. Both. Neither. It was so stupid and tragic and sad and funny at the same time that I had about ten different kinds of tears in my eyes.'"

This is an outstanding book. I can't recommend it too highly.

Book Reports

October 5, 2004

Hey Gerard, I was thinking about you the other day. My sister-in-law, who I lent your book to, mentioned it. In any case, we both loved the book. Searing honesty, very funny, better than 99% of the tripe out there! Hey, I finished reading the book way back in July while I was cycling through Normandy, France. I did a lot of filming, and while my wife and I were watching tape from the trip, there is cool moment where I am reading the book over the English Channel on my way to Paris and I turned to the camera and said, "Hey, Gerard, I am reading your book and enjoying very much. I think Ginny would have liked that -- you know, over Europe, people on the flights are checking out the cover! Anyway, hope all is well.

That's exactly why I rote the sucker, so people on flights over Europe could check out the cover. Some other guy told me about reading it on a flight to Berlin from London and a really cool Russian chick read it on a train from Kyiv to St. Petersberg. Warms the cockles of my weary old heart. The NY Times Book Review did a little blurb last Sunday about my website and I got a bunch more "hits" (whatever that means), but still not many people have read the book. You're among a very select few. Thanks. G.

September 22, 2004

Hey, I read it. Bravo! It's great, or better yet, Good. Just the right kind of twisted sweet smartness. Made me wistful even though for gods sakes I was born in 68. I'm giving it to my friend who is Finnish and grumpy. I think it will cheer her up. I can't believe you already have a great grand kid. Insane

Well, that g-gfather thing is tricky. I got together with the kid whose kid's kid caused it when she was already four--she's Wendy in the book, Melanie's daughter, who had Melissa who had Jayde who made me at least a common-law step great-grandfather...but you see what I mean about tricky? Melissa sent me some pictures. The kid is goofy-looking. I like goofy-looking kids. Yeah, yeah, give it to the grumpy Finn, then go write me up a review at Amazon. No one's done that for awhile. I'm trying to sell it to the movies now so I'm in the process of pissing off Hollywood. Thanks. G.

August 23, 2004

Manohmanohmanohmanohman!!!! What an amazing book!! What an absolutely fucking amazing book!!

There is a lake up near Anaconda Montana, Silver Lake, that the locals won't fish or boat or water-ski or do any of that stuff on because they say nobody knows for sure how deep it is. Not only that, but the water is unusually cold and clear...fall in and you die of hypothermia or drown before your fishing buddies even notice you're missing, So I'm standing on the shore of Sliver Lake, and it's a nice little lake, with the mountains and the lodge-pole pines reflected on the surface, and I can see the roundish brown pebbles under the first few feet of water, and the sunlight is dancing and reflecting and refracting off its surface and it's a beautiful hot day in August by the side of a pretty lake. And all of a sudden, I can see down into the water, and down, and down...and it begins to dawn on me that the local beer-drinking sportsmen are right: there's no bottom to the thing. As a matter of fact, it may go on forever, it may have distant galaxies and nebulae in it, great empty spaces of such profound loneliness and grief that of course you would freeze to death before you even swam a stroke. And then, just as suddenly, I'm looking at the surface of the lake again, where a handful of mallards are bobbing companionably about, and it's a hot day in August with a little breeze in the tops of the pines, and my whole life has led me to this place.

That's one thing reading Ginny Good was like. You are, well, you are the real thing. Your book is the real thing. Absolutely beautiful writing. Damned near perfect. Maybe even flawless. Yow. Thank you.

Wait. Did you read the book or just look at the pictures? G.

June 28, 2004

Dear Gerard, My signed copy of Ginny Good arrived the other week. I got home early evening to have my 17 year old announce 'you've got a package from America'. It's not easy to arouse the curiosity of a 17 year old. Your package managed it. The note with your signature was really nice. I've been showing it off.

As for the book itself? It's bloody brilliant. It's funny, sad, painfully honest. It's the best thing I've read in a very long time. I find it deeply depressing that it was such a battle to get something that good published. It screams 'publish me, you morons!' At least you got there in the end. I see that it is available on Amazon UK, although presumably not otherwise over here (yet!).

Hey, I got a little mention by Thomas Jones in the London Review of Books. There's a link on my site. It's just gonna be slow-going until the book starts getting some actual book reviews by people who know how to read. Thanks. G.

May 17, 2004

Well Gerard, I've closed the book, rolled myself a tasty cigarette and sat down here to write to you about Ginny Good. Back during the days I should have been going to college but really I withdrew and lied to my father and told him I was waitressing at the Holiday Inn, I read those books. Kesey, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Leary gave me the willies, anyway. It all seemed sad. It didn't seem real. Through the years I've had friends who've gone to San Francisco, and have seen the young people still there, strung out looking lost. They tell me it's depressing. I've never once had a want to go to California. Fact is, when I think about those days that you wrote about, the days that shaped our days—I see them the way you wrote them—the way I just read them. Realistic, sad, weird, and exciting and new all at once. Not all that fun fun fun shit everyone seems to think they were. I guess that was the way I thought they were when I first discovered stuff too, but since, I figure they were exactly like you wrote them. Just days, like any other days.

This isn't supposed to be my life fricking story, I just wanted you to know who I was a little, so you'd know maybe why I liked it so much. I liked it so much because it was real. I want you to know that your story really moved me. It moved me because of a bunch of things. Because of how you described your characters, Ginny most of all, was so well written...and such a hard character to write. Because I remembered the names of your golfing buddies—and my memory is crap. The bits about your father & your childhood were really great. Oh I'm crap at this. I can't give you a book report. I can't give you a review. I thought the book was fantastic. Terrific. Luscious. I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. It never lost momentum, it never got boring. You wrote a great book. The thing I liked the most most most? I liked your voice. If you were telling all lies, I'd have believed them. Ginny Good to me, was 100% honest, and even if it wasn't, it sure read like it was because of your voice. When I first read your letters on the website, I thought—Man, this guy has balls and says exactly what he's thinking. I should do that. What do I have to lose? 10 years, 7 novels, hundreds of rejections—why not?

After reading GG, I say—I have learned from you and your voice to be as honest as I can be. Vonnegut once said a writer should sound like they sound when they talk. You have done that to perfection. I don't even know you and I can say you've done that to perfection. What else can I say? Thanks, I guess. It was great to be in your world for a while. I'm glad you told the story and I think my world is better because I read it. Gerard a standing ovation to you, and not just for the book. You know and I know that books get written all the time. Applaud for your publication, your agent, your guts, your website and the ideas that fuelled it, your vision. You had a great go at it and it's good to see for once that a good book got published. I'll treasure my signed copy for life!

Hope I didn't say too much or too little.

(Hey, while you're still living in Ireland, go into a library there and tell 'em I want GG to win one of them Dublin IMPAC Literary Awards:


They'll pay way more attention to an Irish lass living in Tipperary than they ever would to me. It's a big amount of money and you can totally have at least half of it since I'll be getting big bucks from social security by then. Thanks. G.)

May 14, 2004

I have to say that GINNY GOOD is just one of the best books I've ever read. Un-put-downable. I'm not finished yet, (kind of want it never to end), but had to tell you how much I am enjoying the read. I have never read anything that really articulates that time so vividly. Tripping has always been impossible for fiction writers to get down, yet you do it splendidly. And frankly, I think the writing transcends the times you write about. It is simply a great read. Perhaps it was hard to sell because it straddles the labels fiction/memoir. From a former hippie chick (albeit a bit younger), thanks for giving me such reading pleasure.

May 14, 2004

Gerard - As anticipated, Ginny flew with me to Berlin where she stayed a couple of days; then she drove with me to Hanover and up to Cuxhaven. We had a good trip back on the ferry to Harwich, east England. It's a fantastic book; truly un-putdownable (if you'll forgive the cliché). You write with such feeling (another cliché, perhaps explaining why I remain unpublished). Bathos and pathos accompany the reader, taking the emotions and shaking them to shreds at times. I love your descriptive power - take page 99: "All the other things I didn't have rippled the surface of my fragile confidence like someone had thrown a pretty good-sized boulder into it." I see you are twelve years older than me; nevertheless for our generation, those born c. 1940 - 1955 (yes, I well remember where I was when Kennedy was shot), I would have thought Ginny should be a 'must buy' book - a mandatory purchase. So, I hope sales go well and that you can retire on the profit to play more golf and indulge your grandchildren (what are their names :-) ).

Melissa, Amber, Caitlyn and...wait, what's that other one's name? Rachel! I do remember them usually. Melissa's gonna have a baby in July, so I'm gonna be a great-grandfather. I know that will endear me even more to all the young chicks who keep trying to pick up on me. All I want to do is play golf in peace and chicks just won't let me. I have taken to carrying a nine-iron around with me, partly to practice my golf swing and partly to beat off chicks. I'm glad you liked the book--bathos and pathos in Berlin no less, yikes. Thanks. G.)

May 12, 2004

Hey G - I read and read last night - I love Ginny Good. Your writing is my kind of reading, man. Excellent. I should let you know that my husband and I figure we were the last hippies, and enjoyed a great 15 years of hippidom until it finally passed into a new sort of scene where we just seemed like long haired large pupiled dorks in the midst of cool people who prefer to dance and drop exctasy. So here's one for ya - I flunked governement too - and didn't graduate because of it - and my teacher was named Mrs. Robertson and she liked to pick her nose, wipe her boogers on her lip, then lick her lip. You made me remember her, so I figured I'd share it with you. Summer school was a blast...I got my diploma in the end, though, and boy did it get me far!!! Anyway - great book. I look forward to continuing my reading later tonight...ps - I didn't mind one bit that you sent the book boat mail - us poor writers got to be patient and cheap!

Well if I hadn't sent it by boat I might have gotten more reviews by now. People only read what they get told to read. That's starting to piss me off. You have to be really smart to flunk government. I took a whole nother semester of high school. That was stupid, but I did it so that makes it smart. Man, do I have things figured out or what? G.

April 22, 2004

Dear Gerard, I ditched work to read your book today. I broke my moratorium on fiction in your honor, being on strike until somebody reads my fiction. GINNY GOOD came promptly and I stared at it and carried it around and dithered with temptation for a week. Screw high-minded principles. Today was the day. Besides, I know how it feels to fret about the fate of such a personal labor.

I read it in three hours flat. I sucked it down with my coffee, inhaled it with the April breeze off the Atlantic, absorbed the words through my eyes and hands, with no music in the background to interfere with the music playing before me. And what a song it was, Gerard. A sad-but-funny, wistful-but-wise-ass, touching tune. Ginny would have loved it.

What a song. Sing me another one, please. Susan (Number one fan, not related to you)

Hey, Susan, I'm glad today was the day. But it's not fiction. The Library of Congress says it's narrative nonfiction. Who am I to disagree? That's a problem. I'd have to live another forty years, and living another forty years is way too much trouble. Glad you liked it. Thanks. G.

April 19, 2004

(From my cousin Ruthie who bought the book at a Borders in Michigan.)

G. I'm rarely at a loss for words? I'm pretty good at describing feelings...But not this time.? I'm not sure how to begin...I generally don't start a book I know I'll be "hooked on", unless I have enough time to read at my leisure.? So, when I started "G.G." I felt confident I could get the Spring yard work done.? The endless weekend errands finished...The Laundry and cleaning done...Maybe even start the de-junking of the garage....(It is my wish to be a neat-nick, but alas, the gene is not a part of me)... And still enjoy grabbing a few minutes here and there, especially to relax at bed time, to read your book.?

What I did manage to accomplish this weekend is, read through page 357, plus the inside and back cover, of Ginny Good. I laughed, I cried, I puzzled, I reminisced, I pondered, I ached for You & Ginny & the others as you worked through the joy and sadness of life. I wept through your Father's final struggle, and yet laughed when I could hear his voice.. His voice always made me laugh. "What do you call a boom-a-rang that doesn't come back????? A STICK!!!" My children only met him two or three times and still quote him.

I was not shocked nor offended...I was so engrossed I had to bargain with myself, mow a third of the yard, read for 30 minutes, change the wash (and fold and put it away), read 30 minutes. Sometimes you were Gerry, my cousin, but it was best when you were Gerry, the author and character in the book. A new and very different experience.

You should be proud, I am proud for you. I love your style. Your occasional terseness. The almost clipped speech. The humor that just slides in. The emotions: I felt them, I didn't just read them. I liked it, I really really liked it...Well, that's enough kudos for now. I just wanted to let you know how hard it was to put down and how compelling it was to me. Send me some McDonald coupons....Ruthless

Hey, man, that's the best book report I ever read. McDonald's didn't hire me, those rats. They said I didn't fit in. Hey, totally send what you said to the Royal Oak Tribune and to the Borders you got the book at and to Barnes & Noble and the Free Press and the Detroit News (if they still have such a thing). And go stick it in as a review at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other online places that let you put up book reviews. We gotta get this thing to sell a bunch of copies so I can get rich and pay for everybody to go to one of them family reunions we all used to go to on Upper Straits Lake. Remember that spooky house built of stones that was always all locked up? The people who owned it were all ghosts, but before that the guy had a seaplane. That was how he went to work and came back home at night. Some nights he didn't come back home at all. I think his wife got pissed and offed him and herself and all their kids. That's why they're all ghosts now. I just made that all up, but I wanna buy that house and get me a seaplane and have at least one more family reunion. That would be a pretty big family reunion by now. Plus I wanna find Gus. Thanks. G.

April 11, 2004

Hey, G! OK, so I finished Ginny Good yesterday, and was waiting for my head to stop buzzing before I wrote to you. It hasn't happened yet, but I've grown used to it. This really is a wonderful book. I alternately loved you, hated you, pitied you, and envied you. Arousal of emotion is, for me, the ultimate test of how readable a book is. If I can't feel it, it means nothing. I felt something on nearly every page. I absolutely ate up your descriptions of pre-popular hippiedom of the early 1960s, and your acid revelations. I wanted to stop time in the Garden of Eden, and to adopt all of Susie's puppies. The only time I wanted to slap you—the writer you—was after your first date with Ginny when you took time out to describe the bird guy and your interim slice of life. It took me so many pages to meet Ginny that I didn't want you to move away from that story line so quickly. I hope it sells a bazillion copies. See ya-

(Oh, man, I liked the bird guy. He set the time and place and attitude, plus I have a penchant for going off on tangents. Like what the hell was that grave digger doing in Hamlet? The bird guy was like that. Ha! I just made that up. I also got to show how erudite I am by talking about Henry Miller and Burroughs and Beckett and Celine and Blaise Cendrars. The bird guy was integral. It was a foreshadowing of the death of the narrator's dad...we didn't want to miss out on one of the subtleties of that subtext, did we? Besides it was only six pages out of a 357 page book. Sheesh. Susie's puppies were the best. That was true happiness but true happiness usually only happens in hindsight. I'm glad you liked it. You're one of the few people who've actually read the thing. A bazillion copies, pfssh. It's #1,665,234 on Amazon's best seller list. Go write it up in a little blurb over there. Tell people they're idiots if they don't read it. Thanks. G.)

Done. (Except for the idiots part, but I did tell them to buy the book.) Look for it in the next day or two.

Gerard Jones


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