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The Zero

by

The Zero Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What's left of a place when you take the ground away?

Answer: The Zero.

Brian Remy has no idea how he got here. It's been only five days since his city was attacked, and Remy is experiencing gaps in his life — as if he were a stone skipping across water. He has a self-inflicted gunshot wound he doesn't remember inflicting. His son wears a black armband and refuses to acknowledge that Remy is still alive. He seems to be going blind. He has a beautiful new girlfriend whose name he doesn't know. And his old partner in the police department, who may well be the only person crazier than Remy, has just gotten his picture on a box of First Responder cereal.

And these are the good things in Brian Remy's life. While smoke still hangs over the city, Remy is recruited by a mysterious government agency that is assigned to gather all of the paper that was scattered in the attacks. As he slowly begins to realize that he's working for a shadowy operation, Remy stumbles across a dangerous plot, and soon realizes he's got to track down the most elusive target of them all — himself. And the only way to do that is to return to that place where everything started falling apart.

From a young novelist of astounding talent, The Zero is an extraordinary story of searing humor and sublime horror, of blindness, bewilderment, and that achingly familiar feeling that the world has suddenly stopped making sense.

Review:

"A deliriously mordant political satire, Walter's follow-up to 2005's critically acclaimed Citizen Vince begins moments after New York City cop Brian Remy shoots himself in the head. He isn't seriously wounded, and he can't remember doing it. It's less than a week after 9/11, and Brian serves as an official guide for celebrities who want a tour of 'The Zero.' With stitches still in his scalp, Brian is tapped for a job with the Documentation Department, a shadowy subagency of the Office of Liberty and Recovery, which is charged with scrutinizing every confetti scrap of paper blown across the city when the towers fell. As he learns the truth about his new employer's mission (think: recent NSA-related headlines) and becomes enmeshed in a sinister government plot, he finds an unseemly benefactor in 'The Boss,' the unnamed mayor who cashes in on his sudden national prominence. Meanwhile, Brian's cop and firemen colleagues shill for 'First Responder' cereal, his rebellious teenage son acts as if Brian died in the attack and the president provides comic background sound bites ('draw your strength from the collective courage and resilientness'). Walter's Helleresque take on a traumatic time may be too much too soon for some, but he carries off his dark and hilarious narrative with a grandly grotesque imagination. 100,000 announced first printing; 12-city author tour. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Jess Walter, whose new dark (and darkly comic) thriller opens in New York a few days following Sept. 11, 2001, does the smartest thing he could have done: He doesn't mention 9/11 by name, nor does he mention the World Trade Center or any other important person, place or thing having to do with that day. And yet we know exactly who's who and what's what. Even the book's title, 'The Zero,' is a reference... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"This book's heightened paranoia invites the asking of more questions, from why cellphones need to take pictures to why a piece of cake is so much more than its component parts." Janet Maslin, New York Times

Review:

"[F]or a corrosive black comedy about how politicians have manipulated genuine grief and fear, count on Zero." USA Today

Review:

"The Zero has far broader appeal than most mockery of the current administration. Comedy is funny when it's true, and the ragged conspiracy theories of jesters from Michael Moore on down aren't funny because they aren't true. Mr. Walter's comic exaggerations are, like those in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, true on some level." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"A strange, surreal novel that is part thriller, part romance and part Kafkaesque farce." Oregonian

Review:

"The book's individual scenes are aesthetically appealing, but the reader can't get a grip on the plot's larger issues....Despite this weakness, I was still won over. Walter is an immensely talented writer." Washington Post

Review:

"The last thing Americans need, at this point in history, is another sanctification of the horrors of 9/11. What they need...are books that expose the fresh horrors this sanctification has wrought." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

Can a man ever realize that he's been the villain of his own story?

The Zero is a groundbreaking novel, a darkly comic snapshot of our times that is already being compared to the works of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller.

From its opening pages—when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he's shot himself in the head—novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack. As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn't seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as "The Boss," and peopled by anguished policemen, gawking celebrities, and pink real estate divas inventing new uses for tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn't know, a son who pretends he's dead, and an unsettling new job chasing a trail of paper scraps for a shadowy intelligence agency known as the Department of Documentation. Whether that trail will lead Remy to an elusive terror cell—or send him circling back to himself—is only one of the questions posed by this provocative yet deeply human novel.

From a young novelist of astounding talent, The Zero is an extraordinary story of how our trials become our transgressions, of how we forgive ourselves and whether or not we should.

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, and Don DeLillo, comes this extraordinary story of searing humor and sublime horror, of blindness, bewilderment, and that achingly familiar feeling that the world has suddenly stopped making sense.

About the Author

Jess Walter is the author of The Zero, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction. His previous novel, Citizen Vince, won the Edgar Award for best novel. His other novels include Land of the Blind and Over Tumbled Graves, a New York Times Notable Book. Also an acclaimed investigative reporter, he is the author of Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family, which was made into a CBS miniseries. Walter lives in Spokane with his family.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Cynthia Deike-Sims, April 14, 2007 (view all comments by Cynthia Deike-Sims)
This is the most inspiring piece of work I have read in some time. It re-instigated my reading drive, and made me look at so many aspects of the novel, genre, prose, canonicity, modern writing, etc. It also made me look at Kafka's writing, especially The Castle, which I had never read, and Vonnegut, who Walter claims to be complimenting with his style. In the first 45 pages, I thought only one thing: "This is the best book I have ever read!" I am a bookaholic, so that means a great deal. Sadly, I felt that the book lost something toward the end, but in actuality, I am researching whether that is something I have missed by now delving deeper into the Satirical Experience, as I will call it. I am an English Graduate student, and I chose this book over four other books I almost selected because of its dark humor, which I like. I like political satire in various forms, so this was perfect.
I recommended the book to another graduate student who read it as well, and loved it. While we agree it is likely not canonical literature, we both agreed that it is literature in the strictest academic sense: the prose is deep and lovely, and I fell deep into the ideologies, which were a welcome change from dragging, predictable story lines. If you are a fan of 'exile' literature, Dostoevsky, Kafka, or the like, this is the book for you. Even Don Delillo's forthcoming book Falling Man: A Novel (May 2007) is compared to The Zero. Booklist writes: "None of them [other 9-11 texts] are like this one [Delillo's Falling Man], although Jess Walter's The Zero (2006) comes closest in terms of re-creating the emotional reality of the post-9/11 world." I look forward to reading all of both writers' works, but I especially think that Walter's path has been one of progressive genius, and he is fast-encroaching on his mark with this text. I dare you to read 100 pages and not finish it.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
stoutout, September 22, 2006 (view all comments by stoutout)
What Catch-22 did for Joseph Heller, and Slaughterhouse-Five did for Kurt Vonnegut, I suspect The Zero will do for Jess Walter. In an act of post-9/11 literary hubris (?The Zero? refers to Ground Zero in New York City), Walter has written a novel of darkly comic genius that is?gasp!?plot-driven, suspenseful, heavy on the dialogue (for which Walter has a remarkable ear), and above all, funny. Sadness, astonishment, absurdity and an exhilirating gallows humor easily coexist in The Zero, all of it rendered in prose that, at times, will take your breath away.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060898656
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
Walter, Jess
Author:
by Jess Walter
Subject:
General
Subject:
United states
Subject:
New york (state)
Subject:
Terrorism
Subject:
Police
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060829
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
A.&#8221; <I>Entertainment Weekly</I>
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.09 in 20.96 oz

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Zero
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 336 pages ReganBooks - English 9780060898656 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A deliriously mordant political satire, Walter's follow-up to 2005's critically acclaimed Citizen Vince begins moments after New York City cop Brian Remy shoots himself in the head. He isn't seriously wounded, and he can't remember doing it. It's less than a week after 9/11, and Brian serves as an official guide for celebrities who want a tour of 'The Zero.' With stitches still in his scalp, Brian is tapped for a job with the Documentation Department, a shadowy subagency of the Office of Liberty and Recovery, which is charged with scrutinizing every confetti scrap of paper blown across the city when the towers fell. As he learns the truth about his new employer's mission (think: recent NSA-related headlines) and becomes enmeshed in a sinister government plot, he finds an unseemly benefactor in 'The Boss,' the unnamed mayor who cashes in on his sudden national prominence. Meanwhile, Brian's cop and firemen colleagues shill for 'First Responder' cereal, his rebellious teenage son acts as if Brian died in the attack and the president provides comic background sound bites ('draw your strength from the collective courage and resilientness'). Walter's Helleresque take on a traumatic time may be too much too soon for some, but he carries off his dark and hilarious narrative with a grandly grotesque imagination. 100,000 announced first printing; 12-city author tour. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This book's heightened paranoia invites the asking of more questions, from why cellphones need to take pictures to why a piece of cake is so much more than its component parts."
"Review" by , "[F]or a corrosive black comedy about how politicians have manipulated genuine grief and fear, count on Zero."
"Review" by , "The Zero has far broader appeal than most mockery of the current administration. Comedy is funny when it's true, and the ragged conspiracy theories of jesters from Michael Moore on down aren't funny because they aren't true. Mr. Walter's comic exaggerations are, like those in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, true on some level."
"Review" by , "A strange, surreal novel that is part thriller, part romance and part Kafkaesque farce."
"Review" by , "The book's individual scenes are aesthetically appealing, but the reader can't get a grip on the plot's larger issues....Despite this weakness, I was still won over. Walter is an immensely talented writer."
"Review" by , "The last thing Americans need, at this point in history, is another sanctification of the horrors of 9/11. What they need...are books that expose the fresh horrors this sanctification has wrought."
"Synopsis" by , Can a man ever realize that he's been the villain of his own story?

The Zero is a groundbreaking novel, a darkly comic snapshot of our times that is already being compared to the works of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller.

From its opening pages—when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he's shot himself in the head—novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack. As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn't seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as "The Boss," and peopled by anguished policemen, gawking celebrities, and pink real estate divas inventing new uses for tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn't know, a son who pretends he's dead, and an unsettling new job chasing a trail of paper scraps for a shadowy intelligence agency known as the Department of Documentation. Whether that trail will lead Remy to an elusive terror cell—or send him circling back to himself—is only one of the questions posed by this provocative yet deeply human novel.

From a young novelist of astounding talent, The Zero is an extraordinary story of how our trials become our transgressions, of how we forgive ourselves and whether or not we should.

"Synopsis" by , In the tradition of Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, and Don DeLillo, comes this extraordinary story of searing humor and sublime horror, of blindness, bewilderment, and that achingly familiar feeling that the world has suddenly stopped making sense.

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