Synopses & Reviews
Warren Ziller moved his family to California in search of a charmed life, and to all appearances, he found it: a gated community not far from the beach, amid the affluent splendor of Southern California in the 1980s. But his American dream has been rudely interrupted. Despite their affection for one another—the "slow, jokey, unrehearsed vaudeville" they share at home—Warren; his wife, Camille; and their three children have veered into separate lives, as distant as satellites. Worst of all, Warren has squandered the family's money on a failing real estate venture.
As Warren desperately tries to conceal his mistake, his family begins to sow deceptions of their own. Camille attributes Warren's erratic behavior to an affair and plots her secret revenge; seventeen-year-old Dustin falls for his girlfriend's troubled younger sister; teen misanthrope Lyle begins sleeping with a security guard who works at the gatehouse; and eleven-year-old Jonas becomes strangely obsessed with a kidnapped girl.
When tragedy strikes, the Zillers are forced to move into one of the houses in Warren's abandoned development in the middle of the desert. Marooned in a less-than-model home, each must reckon with what's led them there and who's to blame—and whether they can summon the forgiveness needed to hold the family together. Subtly ambitious, brimming with the humor and unpredictability of life, Model Home delivers penetrating insights into the American family and into the imperfect ways we try to connect, from a writer "uncannily in tune with the heartbreak and absurdity of domestic life" (Los Angeles Times).
"Puchner's darkly comic coming-of-age tale offers a complex array of takes on 1980s California: worshipful, acidic, and all points between. Warren and Camille Ziller and their three children have moved from the Midwest to Southern California in search of the blissful American dream, but find, instead, a kind of collective unraveling. Shuttling between parents and children, bedrooms and beaches, Puchner's novel is read by the charming David Colacci, who is attentive to the story's brutality, its pathos, and its stinging comedy. Colacci lazily ambles his way through, his lackadaisical tone belying the conscientiousness of his reading and the slowly spreading melancholy of Puchner's book. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 14). (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Heartrending.... With careful attention to nuanced and fractured perspectives, Puchner teases a fragile beauty out of the loneliness that separates the members of this family." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review
This debut novel by award-winning writer Eric Puchner is a bitterly funny, deeply moving story about a family reckoning with failure, guilt, and love.
About the Author
Eric Puchner teaches at Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. His award-winning short stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Chicago Tribune, Best New American Voices 2005, Pushcart Prize XVIII, and many more acclaimed journals and anthologies. His short story collection, Music Through the Floor, earned him a Pushcart Prize and a Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Eric lives in San Francisco with his wife, novelist Katharine Noel. David Colacci has been an actor and a director for over thirty years, performing coast-to-coast in lead roles of plays by a variety of playwrights, from Shakespeare to Sam Shepard to Steve Martin. He has worked as a narrator for over fifteen years, during which time he has read the works of such authors as Jules Verne, Henry Adams, John Irving, Michael Chabon, and John Lescroart. He has won AudioFile Earphones Awards, earned Audie nominations, and been included on Best of Year lists by such publications as Publishers Weekly, AudioFile magazine, and Library Journal. David was a resident actor/director with the Cleveland Play House for eight years and has been artistic director of the Hope Summer Rep Theater since 1992. He currently lives in New York with his wife, narrator and actress Susan Ericksen, and his children, Mario and Elena.