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This Book Will Save Your Life: A Novel

by

This Book Will Save Your Life: A Novel Cover

 

Staff Pick

A. M. Homes never fails to deliver an emotionally accurate tale, and here she manages to make it hilarious as well. She has the uncanny ability to lift the curtain and show the absurdities and minutia of life.  

Richard Novak's sterile and quiet life is shattered when he ends up in the emergency room one night with an apparent heart attack. Richard is a slightly befuddled man, and he is stuck in an emotional stasis from which he cannot escape. What follows is a tale that only Homes could tell: Richard seems to "collect" people and order their lives while his unravels. (Perhaps his own life must first fall apart in order to start over?) He takes on a woman he meets in a grocery store, as well as a bakery owner, a movie star, a reclusive writer, his own estranged son, and myriad other characters, with a dog to boot.  

This sweet, engaging tale shows the wonder that can happen when you finally open yourself up to others and to the world.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"[A] whirling dervish of black humor and script-ready serendipity....Homes just barely keeps her novel from devolving into a full-scale natural disaster (yes, these figure in, as well). Homes' story embodies much of what she skewers....With This Book Will Save Your Life, A.M. Homes has crafted a novel akin to a director's-cut DVD: some sharp and shapely editing could make a dramatic difference in quality." Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the author of Music for Torching — an uplifting and apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles about one man's efforts to bring himself back to life.

Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.

Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorcé trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one — except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn't even notice until two incidents — an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room, and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house — conspire to hurl him back into the world. On his way home from the hospital, Richard forms the first of many new relationships: He meets Anhil, the doughnut shop owner, an immigrant who dreams big. He finds a weeping housewife in the produce section of the supermarket, helps save a horse that has fallen into the sinkhole, daringly rescues a woman from the trunk of her kidnapper's car, and, after the sinkhole claims his house and he has to relocate to a Malibu rental, he befriends a reluctant counterculture icon. In the end, Richard is also brought back in closer touch with his family — his aging parents, his brilliant brother, the beloved ex-wife whom he still desires, and finally, before the story's breathtaking finale, with his estranged son Ben.

The promised land of Los Angeles — a surreal city of earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and feral Chihuahuas — is also very much a character in This Book Will Save Your Life. A vivid, revealing novel about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you, it should significantly broaden Homes's already substantial audience.

Review:

"The journey from isolation to connection in a semiapocalyptic Los Angeles is the subject of this blithely redemptive new novel by Homes (Things You Should Know). Richard Novak is a day-trader wealthy enough to employ a housecleaner, nutritionist, decorator and personal trainer, but after he's taken to the hospital with a panic attack he realizes he has no one to call. Determined to change his life, but also stalked by strange circumstances (e.g., a sinkhole opens in his lawn), Richard makes extravagant gestures of goodwill toward various acquaintances, relatives and strangers. By the time his misguided altruistic adventures have become fodder for late-night TV jokes, Ben, the son he abandoned years ago in a divorce, arrives in town. Richard's tenuous and fraught reconnection with Ben is at the heart of his reclamation, but when it is complete the city of L.A. itself collapses, à la Mike Davis's City of Quartz. Homes's stale cultural critique feels deliberate. She gradually undoes the ordered precision of Richard's Bobo paradise, and literally leaves him floating serenely on his kitchen tabletop in an 'it's all good' sort of daze. But the cool distance she keeps from Richard's struggle, and the banal terms in which she articulates it, leave one with a much darker sense of the possibilities for being saved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"No, it won't. A.M. Homes' 'This Book Will Save Your Life' can't even generate enough energy to save itself.

This tepid satire about modern America begins with Richard Novak, a wealthy day trader, having a panic attack and being rushed to the hospital with 'incredible pain' all over his body: 'He lay there realizing how thoroughly he'd removed himself from the world or obligations, how stupidly... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"I think this brave story of a lost man's reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang, or The Catcher in the Rye. There's a lot of uplift here, but Homes' deadpan delivery keeps it from feeling greeting-card phony." Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly (A "Best Book of 2005" pick)

Review:

"Homes is always riveting, but this juggernaut hits a higher mark with its aerodynamic prose, finely calibrated humor, and spiky characters....[A] novel of cinematic pizzazz that revitalizes our understanding of love and goodness." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[A] work of guarded but very real optimism and, ultimately, of redemption....An extremely likable book." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A]n engaging and timely tale told with a balanced mix of dark humor and sympathy for individuals enduring the foibles of everyday living." Library Journal

Review:

"Homes is a top-drawer writer..." Seattle Times

Review:

"[H]ilarious....Homes is a first-rate satirist." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"A.M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life can't even generate enough energy to save itself." Washington Post

Review:

"[I]f This Book Will Save Your Life doesn't actually save your life, it might inspire you to go out there and start living it. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same thing." San Diego Union-Tribune

Review:

"[Homes's] new novel is at best a wan form of entertainment punctuated by fleeting moments of poignancy." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"This Book Will Save Your Life is a disappointment....[I]t might be said that avoiding this book will save your life." Rocky Mountain News

Synopsis:

From the author of Music for Torching — an uplifting and apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles about one man's efforts to bring himself back to life.

Synopsis:

“A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistresss Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When Georges murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.

Synopsis:

A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation

Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.

Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.

May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together. 

About the Author

A. M. Homes is the author of Things You Should Know, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, The Safety of Objects, and Jack, and Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill. Recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, she is a Vanity Fair contributing editor and publishes in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper's, McSweeney's, Artforum, and the New York Times.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

bung, February 28, 2008 (view all comments by bung)
The title is what caught my eye. I wondered what on earth a work of fiction could be about with a title such as this. I then sat down and read a little of the book and was impressed. I have never heard of A.M. Homes until now.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
wordwing, October 15, 2006 (view all comments by wordwing)
It might not save your life, but it might loosen you up and let you connect with your own capacity for joy and involvement in the human circus. I can't wait to see what aspect of our crazy world she tackles next.
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(10 of 27 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670034932
Author:
Homes, A. M.
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Middle aged men
Subject:
Humorous
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 20, 2006
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

This Book Will Save Your Life: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Viking Books - English 9780670034932 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A. M. Homes never fails to deliver an emotionally accurate tale, and here she manages to make it hilarious as well. She has the uncanny ability to lift the curtain and show the absurdities and minutia of life.  

Richard Novak's sterile and quiet life is shattered when he ends up in the emergency room one night with an apparent heart attack. Richard is a slightly befuddled man, and he is stuck in an emotional stasis from which he cannot escape. What follows is a tale that only Homes could tell: Richard seems to "collect" people and order their lives while his unravels. (Perhaps his own life must first fall apart in order to start over?) He takes on a woman he meets in a grocery store, as well as a bakery owner, a movie star, a reclusive writer, his own estranged son, and myriad other characters, with a dog to boot.  

This sweet, engaging tale shows the wonder that can happen when you finally open yourself up to others and to the world.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The journey from isolation to connection in a semiapocalyptic Los Angeles is the subject of this blithely redemptive new novel by Homes (Things You Should Know). Richard Novak is a day-trader wealthy enough to employ a housecleaner, nutritionist, decorator and personal trainer, but after he's taken to the hospital with a panic attack he realizes he has no one to call. Determined to change his life, but also stalked by strange circumstances (e.g., a sinkhole opens in his lawn), Richard makes extravagant gestures of goodwill toward various acquaintances, relatives and strangers. By the time his misguided altruistic adventures have become fodder for late-night TV jokes, Ben, the son he abandoned years ago in a divorce, arrives in town. Richard's tenuous and fraught reconnection with Ben is at the heart of his reclamation, but when it is complete the city of L.A. itself collapses, à la Mike Davis's City of Quartz. Homes's stale cultural critique feels deliberate. She gradually undoes the ordered precision of Richard's Bobo paradise, and literally leaves him floating serenely on his kitchen tabletop in an 'it's all good' sort of daze. But the cool distance she keeps from Richard's struggle, and the banal terms in which she articulates it, leave one with a much darker sense of the possibilities for being saved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "[A] whirling dervish of black humor and script-ready serendipity....Homes just barely keeps her novel from devolving into a full-scale natural disaster (yes, these figure in, as well). Homes' story embodies much of what she skewers....With This Book Will Save Your Life, A.M. Homes has crafted a novel akin to a director's-cut DVD: some sharp and shapely editing could make a dramatic difference in quality." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "I think this brave story of a lost man's reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang, or The Catcher in the Rye. There's a lot of uplift here, but Homes' deadpan delivery keeps it from feeling greeting-card phony."
"Review" by , "Homes is always riveting, but this juggernaut hits a higher mark with its aerodynamic prose, finely calibrated humor, and spiky characters....[A] novel of cinematic pizzazz that revitalizes our understanding of love and goodness."
"Review" by , "[A] work of guarded but very real optimism and, ultimately, of redemption....An extremely likable book."
"Review" by , "[A]n engaging and timely tale told with a balanced mix of dark humor and sympathy for individuals enduring the foibles of everyday living."
"Review" by , "Homes is a top-drawer writer..."
"Review" by , "[H]ilarious....Homes is a first-rate satirist."
"Review" by , "A.M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life can't even generate enough energy to save itself."
"Review" by , "[I]f This Book Will Save Your Life doesn't actually save your life, it might inspire you to go out there and start living it. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same thing."
"Review" by , "[Homes's] new novel is at best a wan form of entertainment punctuated by fleeting moments of poignancy."
"Review" by , "This Book Will Save Your Life is a disappointment....[I]t might be said that avoiding this book will save your life."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of Music for Torching — an uplifting and apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles about one man's efforts to bring himself back to life.
"Synopsis" by ,
“A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistresss Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When Georges murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.

"Synopsis" by ,
A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation

Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.

Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.

May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together. 

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