Synopses & Reviews
Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything — his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider.
But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large.
Though begun with mutual misgivings, the relationship between Trev and Ben evolves into a close camaraderie, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev's ailing father. A series of must-see roadside attractions divert them into an impulsive adventure interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark.
Bursting with energy, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life's terrible surprises and the heart's uncanny capacity to mend.
"Jonathan Evison is a gifted raconteur with a wicked sense of humor and an unflagging empathy for humankind in all its sad, foible-filled magnificence. In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, his myriad talents are displayed in full bloom." Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers
"The funniest and most tough-minded novel I've read in a long time....This is his best novel yet." Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
"Engaging....The journey is reckless and wild, infused with the sad rage that makes good comedy great....As this carload of misfits moves east, relationships are broken and forged, and Ben recreates a kind of family. This could be horribly clichéd and yet it isn't, because Evison never bows to what we expect from happy endings." Jennifer Gilmore, The New York Times Book Review
"Evison's third and most stealthily powerful novel...[is] a book so poignant yet improbably funny....[An] adventurous story." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Evison's prose is replete with his gifts for witty imagery and turns of phrase....With its extremely cinematic plot and collection of quirky scenes, the novel might remind you of Little Miss Sunshine meets Rain Man....The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is even-keeled, big-hearted, and very funny, and full of hope. Through Ben, missteps are made, and human foibles are exposed. But we also glimpse that distant shore of hard-earned redemption. For that, Evison's novel is worth the voyage." The Boston Globe
"Evison manages to find considerable humor in this plaintive story of care giving and receiving....A lively narrative with a poignant core and quirky, lonely characters." Kirkus Reviews
Jonathan Evison, author of the New York Times bestseller West of Here, has crafted a story that is as grounded in the stark reality of its characters' struggles as it is filled with the kind of hopeful joy that enables them to make it from one day to the next. A novel of the heart, a novel of unlikely heroes in a grand American landscape, it is, most of all, a profound look into what it takes to truly care for one another. Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life's terrible surprises as well as the heart's uncanny capacity to mend.
About the Author
Jonathan Evison lives on an island on the coast of Washington State. His first novel, All About Lulu, won the Washington State Book Award. This is his third novel.