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Ovenman: A Novelby Jeff Parker
Synopses & Reviews
Skateboarder, punk rocker, kitchen slave, and general ne'er-do-well with a slightly tarnished heart of gold, When Thinfinger tries mightily to survive a seemingly endless round of troubles in small-town Florida. After getting fired from his job at the Barbie-Q, he lands a gig at the hippest pizza joint in town, where he soon becomes the leader of a disheveled crew. He's the singer for a mediocre rock band, but his bandmates only let him sing their name, Wormdevil, to all the songs. His girlfriend dreams that he murders her and decorates their apartment with the skulls of small animals. And his best friend enlists him in his plan to land his photo in Thrasher by skating a bowl of poisonous snakes.
Navigating a life littered with freaks and miscreants, When crosses a line, and things suddenly become hotter than his pizza oven. Jeff Parker's laugh-out-loud funny first novel follows a contemporary Everyguy through the strange twists of a woefully complicated life.
"Parker's hilarious debut introduces to the world pizza-slinging, skateboarding, tattooed anti-hero When Thinfinger. Drinking and stealing his way through a series of dead-end restaurant jobs, When lands a gig at Piecemeal Pizza by the Slice, the best pizza joint in his Florida town. As Ovenman-a much-coveted position compared to Dish Dog or Front Girl-When spends his days and nights perfecting the art of slicing pies and belting out nonsense lyrics as a singer in the band Wormdevil. His girlfriend, Marigold, sleeps on his couch, convinced that her dreams of When murdering her will come true. After Piecemeal is robbed and When wakes up from a drinking binge in possession of a pizza box full of cash, he must figure out what happened, and more importantly, who else knows the truth. Though When's ne'er-do-well brooding can slow the pace, the narrative is full of surprises, dark humor and a cast of nutty eccentrics vast enough to staff a vulgar circus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Ovenman is a welcome addition to the literature of the lovably hapless by a young writer with talent to burn." George Saunders, author of Pastoralia and In Persuasion Nation
"This novel really cooks. Read it tonight." Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Corpus Christi: Stories
"Rarely are mopping and pizza dough so pleasingly rendered. Even inside When's world of chaos, Parker's novel pushes forward with grace. This is a delight of a debut." Aimee Bender, author of Willful Creatures and An Invisible Sign of My Own
"Funny, soulful, and energetic, Ovenman is wonderful." Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica
"In his utterly original Ovenman, Parker has created a time capsule of the nineties in Central Florida and an ode to the mysteries and hopes and acrobatics of youth. When Thinfinger, the skateboarding philosopher at the heart of this terrific novel, is brilliantly acerbic and uncommonly insightful. And awfully, awfully funny. Here's a brief note of which I hope he'd approve: This novel really cooks. Read it tonight." Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Corpus Christi: Stories
"Ovenman should end up being taught in MFA programs as an incredible example of a novel centered around voice. That's not to say that all Jeff Parker has done is come up with a great voice, the characters and plot of Ovenman are fantastic as well." Dan Wickett, Emerging Writers Network
"Parker riffs on the brilliant, bombastic language of one When Thinfinger, pizza cook and then night manager at Gainesville, FL's Piecemeal Pizza by the Slice. When is a skater, which is a milieu Parker describes with effortless authority, but even that underground community, surfing's runty cousin, can't fully account for the novel imagery Parker invests Thinfinger's language with." Matt Dube, Diagram
"One of the most raucous and fun books I've read in ages...Ovenman is a frenetic blast of pleasure: a depiction of America at its skankiest, populated with unlikely heroes and told with a reckless glee that commands serious attention." Chas Bowie, The Portland Mercury
"Equal parts sleazy and frenetic, Parker's debut is a chortle-out-loud story about the sweaty, battle-scarred struggle between creating self-monuments and throwing hand grenades." Annie Bethancourt, Williamette Week
"While the plot is certifiably hilarious, it's really When's voice that's in the driver's seat. Dazed, confused, and occasionally caring, he carries all 250 pages of this terrifically entertaining novel." Toby Warner, Boldtype
"Ovenman reads like a high calibre graphic novel, minus the graphics. Cluttered, uncomfortable, compulsively crafted, unashamed of occasional farce or relentless surreal quirky distortion, this is writing you might imagine coming out of the brain of Julie Doucet, if she were a guy who lived in Florida." Juliet Waters, Montreal Mirror
Skateboarder, restaurant worker, and punk rocker wannabe, the antihero of Jeff Parker's uproariously funny debut novel adds a new twist to the classic coming-of-age story. When Thinfinger, a ne'er-do-well with a slightly tarnished heart of gold, relies on Post-It notes to help him make sense of the chaos and momentum of his life: a girlfriend who dreams he murders her, a long lost Biodad who writes letters filled with lies, a televised war that is over before it has even begun, and a robbery he can't remember committing.
About the Author
Jeff Parkers fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Tin House, Ploughshares, Hobart, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006. For more than a decade he worked in the kitchens of Italian, Mexican, seafood, pizza, fast food, and bar-b-q restaurants. Currently, he teaches creative writing and hypermedia at Eastern Michigan University and is program director of the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia program. He lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada.
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