Synopses & Reviews
A sophisticated, sterling debut by a wonderful emerging talent the founder of the popular literary blog The Elegant Variation.
Harry, Revised is the hilarious and tender story of Harry Rent, a down-on-his-luck widower, who tries to reinvent himself following his wife's untimely death. Harry's emotional journey takes him from his own solipsistic and outrageously misdirected fantasies about an obsidian-haired, twenty-two-year-old waitress at his local greasy spoon to the tenuous beginnings of an actual personal transformation.
At once deeply moving and darkly comedic, Harry, Revised is an extraordinary novel about the measure of a man's worth.
"This debut novel from popular literary blogger Sarvas focuses on the midlife crisis of recently widowed Harry Rent. Harry maintained a complicated and uneasy relationship with his wife, Anna, who died during a cosmetic surgery procedure. On the day of her funeral, Harry meets Molly, a raven-haired diner waitress and grad student, and is smitten. To win Molly's heart, Harry devises a bizarre plan to transform himself from the sleazy, lying john that he'd become into an honorable and noble gentleman straight from the pages of a Dumas novel, through a series of far from selfless acts aimed toward Molly's old, crotchety co-worker, Lucille. Harry stalks Lucille to ascertain her financial needs and tries to rectify her pitiful situation all just to get a night of passion with Molly, who already has one deadbeat in her life. Harry is also being followed by the private investigator hired by his sister-in-law, Claire, who holds Harry responsible for sending the beautiful Anna to her early death, but he is too wrapped up in his own game to notice. The novel hinges on Harry's transformation, and though there may be legions of writers spurned by his blog just willing for Sarvas to fail, this is a self-assured, comic and satisfying story. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Harry Rent is of the same ilk as Walter Mitty and Rabbit Angstrom: deeply flawed, likable, and hilariously, touchingly memorable. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[D]espite the author's stylistic resources, the novel can be ham-handed unconvincing or unfunny in its farce....Oscillates between earnestness and slapstick, and never seems quite comfortable in either." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] winning debut...smart and funny....Sarvas weaves a moving story of redemption, a wryly funny take on self-improvement, and a reassuringly optimistic view of human nature." Booklist
"Mark Sarvas's first novel is funny and sad, rueful, wised-up and curiously moving. A remarkable debut." John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea
"Mark Sarvas's debut novel is fun, fast and heartfelt, an exemplar of the Coming-of-Middle-Age novel in which an overgrown boy finally learns to grow up and deal with the world with greater compassion and maturity-even if that's no guarantee he won't stop running into things." Joshua Ferris, author of the National Book Award finalist Then We Came to the End
"Mark Sarvas has created an enormously compelling character in Harry Rent, a man less at odds with himself than with certain personas the modern world forces us to inhabit. His ethical and emotional dilemmas drive the story and make Harry, Revised a scathingly funny but also wise and tender debut." Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
"As witty, erudite and outrageous as Waugh, with a flawed hero worthy of Roth. A marvelous, enviable debut." Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli
“Self loathing was never so funny, and Sarvass depiction of his downward-spiraling anti-hero is spot-on.”—Los Angeles Magazine
In this critically acclaimed novel, Harry Rent finds himself single and lost after the passing of his wife. Although numbed by his lifes unexpected turn, Harry becomes fixated on Molly, an obsidian-haired, twenty-two-year-old waitress. Meanwhile, Harry is forced to fend off Clare, his sister-in-law, who is convinced that Harry is somehow responsible for her sisters untimely death. At once deeply moving and darkly comedic, Harry, Revised is an extraordinary novel about the measure of a mans worth, by a wonderful, emerging talent.
About the Author
Mark Sarvas is the founder of the popular litblog The Elegant Variation, which Forbes and Entertainment Weekly have named as one of the best blogs on the Web. His fiction has appeared in Troika Magazine, the Wisconsin Review, Apostrophe, Thought Magazine, and Pindeldyboz and as part of the Spoken Interludes and Vermin on the Mount reading series in Los Angeles. His criticism has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Three Penny Review, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is his first novel. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles.