Synopses & Reviews
With his critically acclaimed first novel, Dear American Airlines
, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius whose fiction, as Richard Russo noted in the New York Times Book Review
, was "not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding."
Now, in Want Not, Miles takes a giant leap forward with this highly inventive and corrosively funny story of our times, a three-pronged tale of human excess that sifts through the detritus of several disparate lives, all conjoined in their come-hell-or-high-water search for fulfillment. As the novel opens on Thanksgiving Day, readers are telescoped into the worlds of a freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once prominent linguist struggling with midlife, and a New Jersey debt-collection magnate with a second chance at getting things right. Want and desire propel each one forward on their paths toward something, anything more, but when their worlds collide, briefly, randomly, yet irrevocably, the weight of that wanting ultimately undoes each of them, leaving them to pick up the pieces from what's left behind.
With a satirist's eye and a romantic's heart, Jonathan Miles captures the morass and comedy of contemporary life in all its excess. Bold, unblinking, unforgettable in its irony and pathos, Want Not is a wicked, big-hearted literary novel that confirms the arrival of a major voice in American fiction.
"With a light Midas touch, Miles turns all the glut and ache of late America into pure gold. If you're in that soul-hunt up the food chain and down the dial for something more satisfying than the hollow abundance of our contemporary lives, read this book. It is warm, complex, comic, honest, and never flinching. Want Not wastes not a word, while its pleasures are endless." Joshua Ferris, author of The Unnamed and Then We Came to the End
"In this powerful, blisteringly funny novel, Jonathan Miles makes a startling discovery: We are what we throw away. It's in our castoff goods, edibles, chances and people that our authentic selves are revealed; or, as one of his many memorable characters puts it, 'garbage [is] the only truthful thing civilization produced.' Miles mines the depths of waste so artfully that by the end of this extraordinary novel, we're left with the suspicion that redemption may well be no more, and no less, than an existential salvage operation." Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
“Want Not, Jonathan Miles brilliant and original take on a culture — ours — that mindlessly seems to squander all that is dear, is as witty as it is mind-blowing and eye-opening. The combination of high-octane prose and Miles' compassion for his characters make for a novel that stirs the collective conscience. A clear-eyed, exuberant entertainment.” Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life and A Day at the Beach
From the critically acclaimed author of Dear American Airlines, a compulsively readable, deeply human novel that charts the course of three intersecting lives — a freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once prominent linguist struggling with midlife, and a New Jersey debt-collection magnate with a new family and a second chance at getting things right — in a thoroughly contemporary examination of that most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.
About the Author
Jonathan Miles's first novel, Dear American Airlines, was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. A former columnist for the New York Times, he serves as a contributing editor to magazines as diverse as Field & Stream and Details, and writes regularly for the New York Times Book Review and The Literary Review (UK). A former longtime resident of Oxford, Mississippi, he currently lives with his family in rural New Jersey.