Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"[A] work of guarded but very real optimism and, ultimately, of redemption....An extremely likable book." Kirkus Reviews
"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)
"[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
"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)
"Homes is a top-drawer writer..." Seattle Times
"[H]ilarious....Homes is a first-rate satirist." San Francisco Chronicle
"A.M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life can't even generate enough energy to save itself." Washington Post
"[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
"[Homes's] new novel is at best a wan form of entertainment punctuated by fleeting moments of poignancy." Los Angeles Times
"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
"[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
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 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. This Book Will Save Your Life
is a vivid, uplifting, and revealing story about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you.
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.