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J Dominic’s Reaching Montaup is an impressive glimpse into the world.

It took me a minute to catch on with the dialect, but the powerful effect of the language made my initial efforts so worthwhile. The prose fully immersed me. Tangible sense of setting and people. Coastal living. Weather. So well developed.

The difficult circumstances the characters face made me more than an observer. A gut-wrenching story. The words of Norman Mclean’s father came to mind: “Man by nature, is a damn mess.”

In contrast, the undeniable love between Jate’s mom & dad, and the protective, powerful love exhibited by Jate’s dad, offers so much hope.”
Boise, Idaho

“Reaching Montaup filled me with admiration and finishing it saddened me . . . what an eloquent voice . . . and a beautifully observed world . . .”
Santa Cruz, California

Rich characters, deep sense of place, true vernacular, poetic, humorous, and how can you not fall in love with the main character? Reminded me of Owen Meany.”
Seattle, Washington

“. . .Reaching Montaup is poetry . . . reading it aloud puts the reader THERE . . . unbelievable.”
Fall River, Massachusetts

Just finished Reaching Montaup and can’t figure if author J Dominic is a genius or a madman. Alas, poor Yorick ? Call me Ishmael ? There may only be a couple of characters out there like twelve-year-old Jate Tavino whose skull-plated mind doesn’t stop wandering and wondering. Endless details, descriptions, and associations about growing up reveal a highly personal mythology. The feel is dreamlike, in parts, like Murakami.   

Reaching Montaup offers bits and pieces of 1965 Sowams, Rhode Island, a world its protagonist doesn’t fully grasp. As Jate finds out about the fate of his pal Pruney Mendoza, readers also find out. There’s confusion, tragedy, family, warmth and depth, community, love, loss. Getting on with it. Jate’s rendition is all our lives. And that rendition is sometimes otherworldly. Which gives the whole thing its skewed power. Endless metaphors are dizzyingly poetic. . . . wind on the river and saltspray hitting Dad’s eyes over Pruney’s split lip . . .’

Consequently, the ample details and the drifting thoughts will draw readers in and keep them connected. They will be in that climatic blizzard with a snowdrift whale blocking the door from being shut.   

A long time ago I heard some things about Melville and what the great white whale was supposed to represent; all that is cunningly included in the story.  

Or maybe not.   

Reaching Montaup may be one of those plots in which readers will wonder if their psychic associations are actually intended by the author J Dominic.  

It’s deep. Very deep. And I can’t praise the novel enough.”
Providence, Rhode Island

Not ta say. But. So many. Cleverly crafted. Words. Short. Short phrases. Sentences. Absorbed as a whole. Resemble. The cobbled. Montaup beaches. But the long sentences oh my goodness Eecoodeesh they are something else too.”
Boston, Massachusetts

Fall into the wonky storytelling rhythms of Jate Tavino who tries to make sense of his Rhode Island childhood with tenacity, humor, and plate-in-the-head ‘praspective.’ A rollicking, big-hearted tale of one quiet coastal town’s vibrant joust with the 1960s. And the ghosts of its marshy past.”
author of Tributaries, and Guest House
Kamas, Utah

Once I got ‘passed & past ‘ the stylistic anomalies — when I got into the narrator’s head, so to speak — I couldn’t put the book down.”
Boise, Idaho

An intimate, yet epic, tale . . . narrated in odd poetry . . .”
Boise, Idaho

“Reaching Montaup by J Dominic works in the subconscious more than the literal portion of my brain because of the many odd locutions in the narration. Things like misspelled words. Or compounding words and phrases. Broken syntax. All of this works. 

The descriptions of the tides, ocean, and landscapes are striking and memory-evoking. The history of the Native American Indians being butchered is as symbolic as the priest FatherLuis being left to the land sharks.

The first few chapters require substantial effort, but after that, it is cake because the reader has gained trust in a very competent writer.”
      author of On the Dark Side of the Moon
      Boise, Idaho

After mastering New England accents and odd grammar, I was pulled into the lives of adolescent boys, nurturing parents, and a gallery of complex adults. The brilliant language, universal themes, and tangles of suspense provided one of the richest literary experiences I have had in years.”
      Mackay, Idaho

As I understand things, a novelist creates an imaginary world of concrete places and real people that attracts and holds attention and affection, hides and reveals the secrets of life, and makes anyone with brains want to be in that world and live there. Because they already know the people, or want to badly enough.

So readers read. Anyhow, this reader read. And re-read.

J Dominic has done that. In a manner that makes you wonder why you haven’t come across his earlier tales. There must be many of them.

I started reading because of someone I knew a long long time ago and he wanted me to read. But that obliging lasted barely a page. Then I was reading because I wanted to know who this MistaCogg was and what he said. Then I kept finding myself in a skiff or on railroad tracks or in the kitchen eating pasta. Then. Even when you finish. Open a page again just to see, and 20-30 minutes later you’re still reading. It’s like a book of poetry. You start and it doesn’t stop. It is a book of poetry. It’s not Hemingway – that’s prose. It’s maybe Faulkner. Or Flannery. More Flannery. It is poetry. It may be that my having been reared along beaches and among bladegrass mudflats affects my appreciation. Not to say. But. J Dominic creates a cluttered shop. An iced street bowing bodies in the snow. A tidal beach. Then fills it with people, gives it color and jazz, and all the while makes me feel less what I know I feel and more.

Much more.

What Jate feels – and then, before I know it, it’s what I feel.

Jate is folded over in the freeze and is dying and he goes with his love for the earth and his people and his notebooks and it’s what I feel. What Jate feels. It’s in the language. Maybe. It may also be that I have lived on the other side of the hill at Brown University. Maybe. But it’s more than that. Because I know MistaCogg and GilOwen, and I am sorry for them and above all, I am sorry that Sowams and Federal Hill and Q.T. are what they are and how we suffer from it. All of us. And I never thought through the entire tale that Zompa would be the one to thaw out Jate, or that this automaton threat Zompa could be so tender and nourishing to this kid he once took into the water at the beach.

Of course, Mom said Hah raws. And Pruney dint sweat looking into his dad’s eyes like I done. And of course, no one should ever lie about fishes. And this kid has a plate in his head. No surprise. But no early expectation dulls the sharp deep surprise at FatherLuis, not with Pruney you could see that, but with what friends do when it’s necessary. And these friends have been around all this time. And where do they end, who’s them and who’s not? This is not mere clever plotting. It’s far more than that. It’s making what we know is true, believable as it never was before.

Would I change any of it? Make the opening pages swifter and move on? I haven’t read enough novels in 30 years to make that judgment. But for this reader. Leave it alone. It’s what. It. Should be. Even if I neva wouda started did I knowed.

Some criticism? You get past impatience with having to read. Every. Word. Maybe struggle in early pages. But. By then, you are already hauled into the mind and heart and soul of this plate-brained, engaging, loveable, yearning, naïve savant. It turns out that J Dominic has lived far, far past the now buzzword empathy. J Dominic writes out of an inner source of compassion.


It’s as pervasive as Jate’s yearning to know, to know. But Dominic’s compassion comes from experience of the world. It is as hard as the plate in Jate’s head. Like the plate, his experience has just made him deeper in compassion. And that may be the moral of the book if anyone wants a moral.

Because. By the end, you are wondering when J Dominic will write the sequel about going to high school in the D or F class, and what the challenges will be there. When someone, male or female, tries to wake Jate up only to discover that Jate has been there long before that someone. Who is only trying to make it to where Jate began. When Ross ruined Mom’s birthday present surprise. And Jate will give us wisdom, and even more surprise.

JAT, who resisted the temptation to add ‘e’ .”
author of Always Discerning, and Choosing Christ in the World
Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Ultimately a profound love story. Love for characters. Love of place.”
Ketchum, Idaho

“. . . I read aloud to my husband, the end of Chapter 7 “Breath and Breathe.”  So beautiful. Such wisdom.”
Boise, Idaho

This is fine writing, I mean really fine. The story is moving, sad, funny, inspiring, informative, gritty and warm, and told in a particular voice from one whose up-close view of human life enriches the reader.”
      Bozeman, Montana

Homage to American greats: Melville, Twain, and Lee.”
Boise, Idaho

A most challenging read.
Loved the book.
Loved the language.
Loved the poetry.”
Boise, Idaho

Difficult, but I finished!
Would have enjoyed it more if I were dyslexic.”
Bristol, Rhode Island

“. . . until I became familiar with Jate’s voice, the reading was slow . . . I savored the wordplay . . . and patiently listened to the redundant stream of consciousness, the way Jate constructed his world.

The greatest pleasure . . . being transported back to my childhood, and the special places where my friends and I would go . . . our forbidden creek, the railroad tracks, and the cemetery . . .

My most revealing sentiment . . . I want more.”
       Sun Valley, Idaho

The story is dark, but its multi-layered depths offer much redemption.”
Boise, Idaho

A second or third read is mandatory. It’s complicated stuff. It has so much to say about so many things . . .”
Boise, Idaho

Just finished Reaching Montaup, and was completely engaged.

The characters are rich; the setting is beautifully blue-collared and well described by the least likely narrator. I love the voice and thought there may be trouble balancing that voice with the need to clarify, but “Jate” cleverly places all the clues in order to figure out his world and in doing so, unveils the mysteries of small-town America in the sixties and language too.

While reading, I found myself, at times, laughing out loud. I also could taste Jate’s mother’s cooking, and resolved to try the recipe revealed on pages 44-45.

The book has some very serious overtones that are cleverly revealed in a manner well beyond the work of a writer working on his first book.

Living on the other side of the tracks, so to speak, where the character and characters reside, is a particularly attractive element of the book. I cherish the laughs and the tears this brought forth.

There is a wonderful element of poetry throughout. It is the abbreviated testimonial type of poetry that comes so naturally from Jate’s voice and it is my favorite type of poetic device.

I loved this book,

I loved this book,

I loved this book.”
author of Swim That Rock
Jamestown, Rhode Island

“. . . reading slowly, savoring every word, finding something glorious on every f∗∗∗ing page! This is a major book . . . Ivan Doig good, Edward P. Jones “The Known World” good. I’m in awe.”
author of When All Is Said and Doneand The Remnants
Portland, Oregon

Idyllic boyhood shattered and redeemed. Reaching Montaup, like all our hopes and dreams, reveals to us indeed, ‘We are so many mysteries’ .”
Boise, Idaho

After the first wave of reading impatience, Jate’s voice comes through and so does his story.

Jate, his twin brother Ross, and their harum-scarum Portuguese pal Pruney, live in a small, coastal Rhode Island town. They try to live by the teachings they receive from their decent parents and neighbors.

Due to an accident, Jate, our narrator, is slower than his twin, but he’s still part of the group who do what boys do: they discover the forbidden joys of ‘self-abuse,’ and it’s at this point the story takes a darker turn that colors their lives forever.

A challenging and uncompromising book.

The spring blizzard is some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time.”
New York City, New York

A fabulous tribute to people and place . . . the melodic prose makes the readers hungry for food, summer, salt air, childhood, and close-knit community . . . the story sings.”
      Port Townsend, Washington

The descriptions are mouthwatering . . . seductive with a great deal to appreciate about small-town living, history, meteorology, botany, and cuisine. . .what stands out is the openness and lovingness of human interactions. Many of the characters are lovable and absolutely jump off the page . . . astonishingly vivid.”
      Palm Springs, California

I loved this book and did not want it to end.”
      Boise, Idaho

“. . . the voice of a 14-year-old boy . . . limited by a plate in his head and an inability to spell . . . the author actually pulls off this writing stunt and lulls us into the story . . . the color and compelling plotline keep us going . . . it’s a demanding book and has a shattering climax.” 
      Mackinac Island, Michigan