Judy Krueger, January 15, 2010 (view all comments by Judy Krueger)
Of all the books I was wowed by in the decade, All About Lulu stands out because it is a first novel and gave me hope for the future of books and writing. It is a coming of age story full of the kinds of family secrets that characterize the latter part of the 20th century. It has heart without being sentimental, it is hilarious without being cynical. I raised two sons and I can tell you that Jonathan Evison got it right on how it was for boys growing up in the 1980s.
Griffin, January 8, 2010 (view all comments by Griffin)
In his debut novel, Jonathan Evison crafts a tale about obsession, family, and professional bodybuilding. The Dickensian cast of characters will make you laugh, but, if you're anything like me, will surely leave you feeling crushed moments later. However, without pain, there can be no gain.
Part of what makes "Lulu" such a success is love. Evison demonstrates love for each and every one of these characters, and perhaps more broadly for humanity, even a guy with a moniker as dubious as "Acne Scar Joe." This love permeates the entire novel, and causes you to love his creations, as well.
If you want to familiarize yourself with a bright, talented, new literary voice, then pick up a copy of this book. Additionally, if you're a fan of author events, don't miss this man when he comes to town. He brings a circus. In a good way.
Already read "All About Lulu," and on the prowl for something new? His second novel, "West of Here," will be out this Fall. Huzzah!
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Evison's debut — of love and loss, growing up, throwing up and moving on — is a stunner. William Miller Jr. is a scrawny loner whose mother dies of cancer when he is seven years old, leaving him an awkward vegetarian with an ominously macho father and idiot twin brothers in mid-1970s Santa Monica. William's father, Big Bill, remarries a grief counselor named Willow, and Will spends the following decades in love with Louisa (Lulu, as she prefers to be called), his new stepsister. They are close throughout adolescence, but after a summer at cheerleading camp, Lulu returns home distant and hostile, leaving Will to pine for her in solitary desperation. Will finally appears to be on the path to normalcy in the early 1990s when he lucks into a radio talk-show hosting gig, but the stroke of good fortune is short-lived, as he discovers things about Lulu he'd rather not know. Evison provides readers a viciously funny and deeply felt portrayal of a blended family and one man's thwarted longing. Publishers Weekly (starred review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Gerry Donaghy, Powells.com,
"All about Lulu reads like Salinger for the Freaks and Geeks-meets-Wes Anderson crowd, a whip smart Gen X Lolita (sans pedophilia). While Evison lacks Nabokov's smugly elegant wordplay, he nonetheless packs this novel with candid observations and lucid deconstructions of the nature of obsession. Evison's gift for simile is superb, littering the novel with the detritus of his impish wit." (read the entire Powells.com review)
by Sam Lipsyte, author of Homeland,
"Most novels in which a boy must oil up his bodybuilder father for competition would merit our attention, but that detail is just one of many amazements on offer in All About Lulu. Will the Thrill is a great literary charmer, and through his rich voice Jonathan Evison has concocted a funny and painfully honest piece of fiction."
by James P. Othmer, author of The Futurist,
"All About Lulu is an exhilarating, wholly original and brave novel about obsession, love and becoming. With Will Miller, Evison has created a thoroughly modern protagonist steeped in Dickensian complexity, pure yet conflicted, lost yet driven to find truth in the dysfunctional American abyss."
by Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng,
"Jonathan Evison is a killer talent, and All About Lulu is the kind of novel readers have been hungry for: Funny, smart, entertaining — an all around delight. Literary fiction needs more books like this; maybe then people would stop talking about the Death of the Novel and just read and enjoy themselves."
Weakness has always been a concern for William Miller: growing up vegetarian in a family of bodybuilders will do that to a person. But William is further weakened by the death of his mother, the arrival of a new step-mother, and his irrepressible crush on his new step-sister, Lulu. As Lulu faces down her own challenges, William watches his life shift into tumult and despair. Once Lulu departs for college, Will goes into the world to find himself — discovering Western philosophy, a cruel dating world, enduring friendship, and, ultimately, his true calling. Emboldened by his turn as a late-night radio personality, Will rescues himself from the self-image of weakness he'd long wished to escape. This debut novel explores the fundamental difference between where we come from — and the endless possibilities of where we may go.
Weakness has always been a concern for William Miller, but he is further weakened by his irrepressible crush on his new step-sister, Lulu. Once Lulu departs for college, Will attempts to find himself--discovering Western philosophy, a cruel dating world, and, ultimately, his true calling.
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