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The Every Boyby Dana Adam Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of John Irving and Tom Perrotta, The Every Boy finds humor in dysfunction and hope in the roller coaster of self-discovery.
During his short lifetime, Henry Every flirted badly with girls, broke into the houses in his neighborhood, fantasized about being a minority, and killed a great blue heron. His sudden, unexplained death was a shock to all who knew him, especially his father. Alone now in his suburban house, Harlan Every pores over his late sons secret thoughts in an attempt to connect with the boy he never really knew — and to figure out how he died. Harlan had reached out to his son in the only ways he knew how: giving competitive boxing lessons, sharing marine-life minutiae, and doling out hard-bitten maxims about how to get the upper hand in life. Now, for the first time, Harlan really listens. He learns the truth about Henrys many misadventures and transgressions. He also discovers the part he played in Henrys tragic death and the real reason his wife walked out years ago. The story grows into two parallel love stories — one past, one present — with very different outcomes.
Both whimsical and wise, The Every Boy is a page-turning mystery, an exploration of fathers and sons, a romance, and a one-of-a-kind celebration of human individuality.
"Henry Every, the titular boy in Shapiro's inventive but too precious debut novel, drowns under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 15, leaving behind a mother who's a little obsessed with ant farms, a father devoted to his jellyfish and boxing, and five years' worth of diary entries written on 2,600 pages of loose-leaf graph paper. This 'ledger...is...a catalog of life's wee tics and pangs...threadbare confessionals, overheard dialogue transcriptions, [and] stabs at investigative journalism.' For his estranged parents, Hannah and Harlan, it's a window on the wacky inner life of a deeply (but quite happily) odd teenager. Henry's antics and observations are endearingly offbeat for the most part, but become cloying at times: in answer to the essay question 'Who are you?' he 'found himself starting at the Precambrian era and sifting through four and a half billion years worth of being.' Though Shapiro serves up some wise, lovely characterizations (Henry's grandma Lulu, for example), the mostly light-and-sweet narrative stalls in moments of self-conscious precocity, when the author's fascination with Henry resembles a narcissistic adolescent crush. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, with Shapiro, whose documentary Murderball won an Audience Award at Sundance this year, attached to write and direct. Agent, Leslie Falk. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Quirky, not 'quirky.' Profound, not precious. A magical, haunting, hilarious debut." Amy Sedaris
"So many young writers have been described as 'Salingeresque'...it's a shock to come across one who fits the bill." Tom Perrotta
"A story told with a savage disquiet wrapped in a disarming, triumphant hope." J.T. Leroy,author of Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
"With skillfully rendered portraits of quirky people who take themselves too seriously, the author erects a world of humorous eccentricity and personal obsession." Library Journal
"Buoyant and witty...perceptive and optimistic about the oddness and difficulty and even the joy of being human among humans." Matthew Sharpe, author of The Sleeping Father
"Shapiro could be a renaissance man — a filmmaker who also has the stuff to make a fine novelist down the way. He just has to stop being trendy." San Francisco Chronicle
This unconventional debut novel finds humor in dysfunction and hope in the roller coaster of self-discovery. Henry Every is a 15-year-old boy who dies mysteriously and leaves behind a ledger filled with his darkly comic confessions. His father pores over his late son's secret thoughts in an attempt to connect with the boy he never really knew — and to figure out how he died. The story grows into two parallel love stories — one past, one present — with very different outcomes.
When fifteen-year-old Henry Every washes up on shore, the only clues to his shocking death are those he leaves behind in a secret ledger that someone mysteriously leaves on his parents' doorstep. Crammed full of his darkly comic confessions, the pages detail Henry's myriad misadventures on his wayward quest for self-betterment: acts of petty crime with his best friend, Jorden, a romantic obsession with the elusive Benna, and a prickly relationship with a lethal jellyfish. Quietly wise and laugh-out-loud funny, The Every Boy proves there's hope in the darkest places — you just have to know where to look.
In this addictive and highly original debut novel a fifteen-year-old boy dies mysteriously, leaving behind a secret ledger filled with his darkly comic confessions. Whether fantasizing about being a minority, breaking into his neighbors homes, or gunning down an exotic bird, Henry Everys wayward quest for betterment sometimes bordered on the criminal. Alone now in their suburban house, his father pores over the ledger in a final attempt to connect with the boy he never really knew — and, more urgently, to figure out how he died. As Harlan Every learns the truth about his sons many misadventures and transgressions, he also discovers the part he unwittingly played in Henrys tragic death and the real reason his wife walked out years ago. The story grows into two parallel love stories — one past, one present — with drastically different outcomes.
Witty and wise, The Every Boy is a page-turning mystery, a love story, an exploration of what it means to be a family, and a one-of-a kind celebration of human individuality.
About the Author
Dana Adam Shapiro produced and codirected Murderball, a documentary about quadriplegic rugby players that won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. It will be released theatrically in July 2005 by THINKFilm in association with MTV Films. Shapiro is a former senior editor at Spin and a contributor to the New York Times Magazine and other publications. With Plan B and Paramount Pictures, he is set to write and direct a movie based on The Every Boy.
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