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The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

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The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving Cover

ISBN13: 9781616200398
ISBN10: 1616200391
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything — his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider.

But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large.

Though begun with mutual misgivings, the relationship between Trev and Ben evolves into a close camaraderie, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev's ailing father. A series of must-see roadside attractions divert them into an impulsive adventure interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark.

Bursting with energy, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life's terrible surprises and the heart's uncanny capacity to mend.

Review:

"Benjamin Benjamin, the narrator of Evison's tragicomic third novel (after West of Here), describes himself as an 'unemployed stay-at-home schlub whose wife gives him an allowance.' He's actually even more pathetic, which is one of the problems with this picaresque: at 39, getting divorced, Benjamin is haunted by an immense unspecified loss and eking out a living as a caregiver to teenage Trevor, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. He's good at the job, his first after a long stint as a full-time dad. He and Trevor construct a map pinpointing odd Americana ('Mystery houses, vortexes, crop circles, and other unexplained phenomenon'), more of an imaginary itinerary, given Trevor's condition; Ben and Trevor do finally end up on the road, however, allowing Evison to demonstrate his considerable comic gifts, despite the grimness of the situation. Flashbacks reveal Ben's past (a wife; two kids) and Evison builds a palpable sense of doom, but Ben's heartbreaking personal tragedy is revealed too late to make a meaningful impact. Still, Evison is a skilled, perceptive writer: one girl Ben and Trevor encounter en route notices them 'with the expert dispassion of the teenage misfit.' 50,000 first printing, 5-city author tour. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Jonathan Evison is a gifted raconteur with a wicked sense of humor and an unflagging empathy for humankind in all its sad, foible-filled magnificence. In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, his myriad talents are displayed in full bloom." Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

Review:

"The funniest and most tough-minded novel I've read in a long time....This is his best novel yet." Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

Review:

"Sly and surprising, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is both a goofy road trip and a mission of atonement. Jonathan Evison has the singular ability to make the heartbreaking seem jaunty." Stewart O'Nan, author of The Odds: A Love Story

Review:

"Engaging....The journey is reckless and wild, infused with the sad rage that makes good comedy great....As this carload of misfits moves east, relationships are broken and forged, and Ben recreates a kind of family. This could be horribly clichéd and yet it isn't, because Evison never bows to what we expect from happy endings." Jennifer Gilmore, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Evison's third and most stealthily powerful novel...[is] a book so poignant yet improbably funny....[An] adventurous story." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"A journey back to life...bittersweet....It's moving and funny, and, my God, how refreshing it is to read a story about someone caring for a disabled person that isn't gauzed in sentimentality or bitterness." Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Review:

"Evison's prose is replete with his gifts for witty imagery and turns of phrase....With its extremely cinematic plot and collection of quirky scenes, the novel might remind you of Little Miss Sunshine meets Rain Man....The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is even-keeled, big-hearted, and very funny, and full of hope. Through Ben, missteps are made, and human foibles are exposed. But we also glimpse that distant shore of hard-earned redemption. For that, Evison's novel is worth the voyage." The Boston Globe

Review:

"It's a story of heartbreak and healing....This is a novel with a terrific sense of the relationship between comedy and tragedy." The Daily Beast

Review:

"Evison has given us a salty-sweet story about absorbing those hits and taking a risk to reach beyond them. What a great ride." The Seattle Times

Review:

"Evison has an easy fluidity with the dashed dreams and disappointments of characters who don't ask for pity." Seattle Weekly

Review:

"The comic novel may be the hardest work of fiction to pull off well....The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is a showcase of what makes a good one tick: Characters just a touch disconnected from reality, a prevailing sense of life's absurdity and a handful of rude jokes....Evison proves that some of the best comedy emerges from lives that have jumped the rails." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"A warm, funny look at recovering from tragedy." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Review:

"A zany road trip from grief to grace....[A] sometimes funny, sometimes slapstick, big-hearted novel." The Oregonian

Review:

"Luminously moving and very funny." The Rumpus

Review:

"Smart and bittersweet and attuned to the absurdity of life — Evison's book is the literary version of a good grunge song." LA Weekly

Review:

"Let's not mince words. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is far and away the best novel Jonathan Evison has ever written....It's funny, moving, and lively, the sort of novel that will appeal to avid readers and to people who only manage to read one or two books in a year. The secret, the trick to the book, is in the voice of the narrator, which feels so true that it simply can't be denied." The Stranger

Review:

"Evison manages to find considerable humor in this plaintive story of care giving and receiving....A lively narrative with a poignant core and quirky, lonely characters." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Sly and surprising, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is both a goofy road trip and a mission of atonement. Jonathan Evison has the singular ability to make the heartbreaking seem jaunty." Stewart O'Nan, author of The Odds: A Love Story

About the Author

Jonathan Evison is the author of All About Lulu, which won the Washington State Book Award. In 2009, he was the recipient of a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He lives on an island in Western Washington.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

Kurt Kemmerer, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Kurt Kemmerer)
A joy and a kick in the gut of a read. The first half of the book is perfection in that the protagonist basically moves into one's life. (The character development is that good.) Further, its plain spoken story telling offers a glimpse of those who care for the disabled, the aged and others. It's not glamorous work, but it rather heroic work, in my opinion, and I thank Mr. Evision for bringing it to the page. The guilt of a father's failures is all too familiar to any father, but Evison does this while utilizing the ultimate parental fear without letting it control the emotional pull of the book. The road trip part starts about half-way through the book, and gets a bit messy here an there, and the slap-stick (as with most slap-stick) can be hit and miss. However, the character development is brilliant, leading to a well-written last 50 pages. Further, the empathy proves to be a stunning example for everyone. It does not just move the book forward, it moves the reader forward. Or at least, it seems to me, it should. (Now I do have quibbles about a couple of details: The parking lot at Old Faithful is not completely full in late September, and the last place anyone would choose to meet a soon-to-be ex-spouse to hand off the signed divorce papers is the mall at Jantzen Beach. I get it, Mr. Evison, you know about Jantzen Beach because it lived off of Washingtonians driving just across the border to purchase crap from big box stores without having to pay sales tax, but that doesn't mean you have to use it in a book.) Yes, I take my quibbles seriously! And I also give my compliments generously. This book opens up lives seldom explored, and it does so in a way that touches us all.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Myron, January 12, 2013 (view all comments by Myron)
Evison continues to work his magic. This book is another must read! Great storyline and characters.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Editha, January 12, 2013 (view all comments by Editha)
I loved this book. Benjamin is the pathetic main character unable to stay afloat after losing his wife and daughter. Despite the gloomy future for himself that he envisions, he still manages to continue on. In an effort to make any sort of progress in his life, he signs up for a class in caregiving and soon has his first client, Trevor. The author could have gone down so many well traveled roads with this book and he didn't. Is it a plot that has been done before? Yes, but Jonathan Evison manages to deliver. His characters are quirky and compelling and likeable. Even Ben, who made me want to scream every time his gloom became gloomier, was a character who ultimately was an underdog worthy of the reader's hope. I'm a sucker for a good road novel and was pleasantly surprised when Ben and Trevor hit the road, not an easy task considering Trevor's disabilities. I've been recommending this book to everyone. It has the kind of humor and charm that defies being lumped into a "type" that would limit it to certain readers.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 8 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781616200398
Author:
Evison, Jonathan
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20120831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving Used Hardcover
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Product details pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781616200398 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Benjamin Benjamin, the narrator of Evison's tragicomic third novel (after West of Here), describes himself as an 'unemployed stay-at-home schlub whose wife gives him an allowance.' He's actually even more pathetic, which is one of the problems with this picaresque: at 39, getting divorced, Benjamin is haunted by an immense unspecified loss and eking out a living as a caregiver to teenage Trevor, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. He's good at the job, his first after a long stint as a full-time dad. He and Trevor construct a map pinpointing odd Americana ('Mystery houses, vortexes, crop circles, and other unexplained phenomenon'), more of an imaginary itinerary, given Trevor's condition; Ben and Trevor do finally end up on the road, however, allowing Evison to demonstrate his considerable comic gifts, despite the grimness of the situation. Flashbacks reveal Ben's past (a wife; two kids) and Evison builds a palpable sense of doom, but Ben's heartbreaking personal tragedy is revealed too late to make a meaningful impact. Still, Evison is a skilled, perceptive writer: one girl Ben and Trevor encounter en route notices them 'with the expert dispassion of the teenage misfit.' 50,000 first printing, 5-city author tour. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Jonathan Evison is a gifted raconteur with a wicked sense of humor and an unflagging empathy for humankind in all its sad, foible-filled magnificence. In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, his myriad talents are displayed in full bloom."
"Review" by , "The funniest and most tough-minded novel I've read in a long time....This is his best novel yet."
"Review" by , "Sly and surprising, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is both a goofy road trip and a mission of atonement. Jonathan Evison has the singular ability to make the heartbreaking seem jaunty."
"Review" by , "Engaging....The journey is reckless and wild, infused with the sad rage that makes good comedy great....As this carload of misfits moves east, relationships are broken and forged, and Ben recreates a kind of family. This could be horribly clichéd and yet it isn't, because Evison never bows to what we expect from happy endings."
"Review" by , "Evison's third and most stealthily powerful novel...[is] a book so poignant yet improbably funny....[An] adventurous story."
"Review" by , "A journey back to life...bittersweet....It's moving and funny, and, my God, how refreshing it is to read a story about someone caring for a disabled person that isn't gauzed in sentimentality or bitterness."
"Review" by , "Evison's prose is replete with his gifts for witty imagery and turns of phrase....With its extremely cinematic plot and collection of quirky scenes, the novel might remind you of Little Miss Sunshine meets Rain Man....The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is even-keeled, big-hearted, and very funny, and full of hope. Through Ben, missteps are made, and human foibles are exposed. But we also glimpse that distant shore of hard-earned redemption. For that, Evison's novel is worth the voyage."
"Review" by , "It's a story of heartbreak and healing....This is a novel with a terrific sense of the relationship between comedy and tragedy."
"Review" by , "Evison has given us a salty-sweet story about absorbing those hits and taking a risk to reach beyond them. What a great ride."
"Review" by , "Evison has an easy fluidity with the dashed dreams and disappointments of characters who don't ask for pity."
"Review" by , "The comic novel may be the hardest work of fiction to pull off well....The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is a showcase of what makes a good one tick: Characters just a touch disconnected from reality, a prevailing sense of life's absurdity and a handful of rude jokes....Evison proves that some of the best comedy emerges from lives that have jumped the rails."
"Review" by , "A warm, funny look at recovering from tragedy."
"Review" by , "A zany road trip from grief to grace....[A] sometimes funny, sometimes slapstick, big-hearted novel."
"Review" by , "Luminously moving and very funny."
"Review" by , "Smart and bittersweet and attuned to the absurdity of life — Evison's book is the literary version of a good grunge song."
"Review" by , "Let's not mince words. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is far and away the best novel Jonathan Evison has ever written....It's funny, moving, and lively, the sort of novel that will appeal to avid readers and to people who only manage to read one or two books in a year. The secret, the trick to the book, is in the voice of the narrator, which feels so true that it simply can't be denied."
"Review" by , "Evison manages to find considerable humor in this plaintive story of care giving and receiving....A lively narrative with a poignant core and quirky, lonely characters."
"Review" by , "Sly and surprising, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is both a goofy road trip and a mission of atonement. Jonathan Evison has the singular ability to make the heartbreaking seem jaunty."
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