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The Best Of Good

The Best Of Good

4.3 3
by Sara Lewis

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Life was fine for Tom Good, called Good by almost everyone. He was actually getting paid to play music, started the band Point Blank, and penned three hits that became forever lodged in his generation's collective memory. Then, for no apparent reason and to everyone's surprise, he walked away from it all.

That was more than twenty years ago. Now Good has settled


Life was fine for Tom Good, called Good by almost everyone. He was actually getting paid to play music, started the band Point Blank, and penned three hits that became forever lodged in his generation's collective memory. Then, for no apparent reason and to everyone's surprise, he walked away from it all.

That was more than twenty years ago. Now Good has settled into a low-key life, writing and recording songs in his closet studio during the day and bartending in a San Diego music club at night. He feels so grounded and secure in his well-established routines with regard to his relationships, his clothes, his food, and his apartment, that minor alterations in these rituals can cause him to break out into a sweat. But the carefully crafted predictability of his life flies out the window the day Good learns that one of his old girlfriends is the single mother of a ten-year-old boy who looks just like him.

Sara Lewis, who won readers over with her previous novels, including Second Draft of My Life and The Answer Is Yes, once again reveals the ironies of everyday life with her signature humor and poignancy. The Best of Good is an irresistible tale of coming-of-age at the mid-point in life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A middle-aged musician attempts to catapult himself into a belated adulthood in Lewis's (Second Draft of My Life) mildly amusing fifth novel. Tom Good, a 47-year-old San Diego-area bartender with a susceptibility to "music-induced flashbacks," is going about his usual business (eating frozen dinners, plucking gray hairs, writing songs in his closet studio and dodging responsibility and change) until he gets a startling piece of news: he might be a father. When a friend informs Good that a beautiful former girlfriend is the single mother of a boy with his "same dark hair with that cowlick over here, same mouth," Good reaches out. Diana isn't too keen on re-establishing a relationship, and her 10-year-old son, Jack, isn't wild about it, either. But Good begins to examine his life, anyway: the reasons he left his band before hitting it big (though he still gets royalties from their songs), the pain his brother's death caused him, the reasons he feels so isolated and confused. He buys a bunch of new furniture and housewares, too ("I tried to throw stuff away that looked messy or made me seem immature"), but becoming an adult just isn't that easy. Still, his good intentions mean friendly exchanges with an elderly neighbor and a growing warmth between him and the single mother of the cute but noisy brood next door. Lewis gives Good an authentic (and sometimes slightly pathetic) voice, and readers may find themselves rooting for a man who's finally realizing what it means to be one. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Tom Good is 47 years old, lives alone, plays guitar in his closet during the day, and tends bar at night. His days are uneventful until a friend lets him know that Diane, the woman who moved out of his life ten years earlier, has returned to the area and that she has a son who looks exactly like Tom when he was a boy. At this news, Tom starts to modify his isolated bachelor lifestyle. In the process, he uncovers memories of his childhood, of his older brother's death, and of the circumstances that led to his own withdrawal from life. As in her earlier Second Draft of My Life, Lewis creates a middle-aged hero who ultimately finds a way to overcome demons from his past and move on to a better place. Recommended for all popular collections.-Kim Uden Rutter, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Middle-aged musician starts over. Tending bar and living on royalties from long-ago hits, Tom Good doesn't think much about his glory days in rock 'n' roll-until a blast from the past on a store's piped-in soundtrack knocks him for a loop. He sure wishes he could go to the drugstore and supermarket without hearing memory-triggers for everything he's tried to forget. Gee, whatever happened to Diana, his true love? Her conditioner smelled excellent. Took him forever to throw the bottle out after she left him. According to his buddy Kevin, Diane is the single mother of a fifth-grader-a boy who looks just like Tom (and who's known as "Good"). Heck, you mean Diana had his kid and never told him? Is that why she went away without a word of explanation? Should he start acting like a father or what? But his son Jack doesn't want anything to do with his long-lost dad, and the kid isn't even musical. And Diana would rather sigh a lot than explain much, anyway. So Good goes back to being nice to the old lady upstairs and to the neighbor's kids, back to just living his life and stuff. But, hey, Diana is thinking of getting married. Is this new guy going to be Jack's dad and cut Good out of the picture or what? How not-fair is that? Well, okay, so what can he do? Be a knight in shining armor for the old lady and hook up with the just-dumped mother of the next-door gang, that's what. They start making quilts and whatnot. It's a metaphor or something. Gee. Bland prose and long stretches of trivial, repetitive dialogue: a banal and tepid fifth from Lewis (Second Draft of My Life, 2002, etc.).

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
0.65(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I was in my sister Ellen's bathroom, drilling through tile. The first try, a couple of days ago, resulted in a cracked tile, which of course I had to replace. I had never put a single tile in the middle of a wall of them, so I had to hunt down a knowledgeable Home Depot employee and listen carefully to his instructions. I had to buy grout, new tile, a special drill bit and so on. A small square of plain white tile is not as easy to find as you might think. There are all kinds of variations on white, white shadow, off-white. The possibilities are endless. And the size has to be the same. So start to finish, getting the new shower curtain rod put up, which was what my sister had asked me to do for her in the first place, ended up taking three days and costing more than expected. But as I put the final screw in the wall, my sister standing in the doorway with the shower curtain in her hands, I was almost sorry to see it end. After all that work, what she had in her bathroom was what she had before the little suction cups on the old rod gave up — a functional shower curtain. It didn't seem like enough.

"Great, Tom!" She started to snap the plastic curtain hooks over the rod. "Thanks so much for doing this. Sorry it turned out to be such a hassle."

I took the other end of the curtain and started hooking it from the opposite direction. "Is that all you want me to do?"

"That's it."

"Sure you don't want, maybe, a shelf unit there above your hamper?"

"No, thanks," she said.

"Or, maybe — I know! What about a mirror right here?"

"Really," Ellen said. "I have enough in here. It's the best-equipped bathroom I've ever seen!" She looked at herself in one of the mirrors, fluffing up the front of her hair. I didn't want to tell her that this didn't make the gray strands any less noticeable. My sister was only four years older than me, but she had all the gray hair.

I surveyed the room. There were hooks I'd put up for her towel and robe. Two mirrors, a shelf unit beside the medicine cabinet. "How about another towel bar right over here?"

"Well, see, I just don't need to hang up any more towels. I've already got room for four. Two here, one there, and one over here. And since I live alone, I don't really — "

"Yeah," I said. "You're right." I walked into the bedroom. "Any other repairs? What about bookshelves? Want some more shelves somewhere?"

"Thanks, but I think you've built me more shelves than the public library down the street has."

"Well," I said, "it's not a major branch." I was still looking around the condo, checking for things that needed repairs, places where racks or shelves or hooks could be added.

"I have everything I need," she said. "Let's eat. I made that spaghetti sauce you like."

"You did? All right!" I said. "I'll wash the dishes."

"Deal," she said. "But, Tom, this time would you mind waiting until after we've finished eating the food that's on them?"

"Ha, ha, ha," I said.

Of course the sauce was excellent and so was the salad. While I was eating, I was looking around the place, hoping to find something broken or loose or worn that I could fix for her. Unfortunately, everything was in pretty good shape. I owe my sister a lot, and I am always on the lookout for ways to repay her.

"Hey!" I said, looking up from my spaghetti.


"Maybe you need a spice rack!"

She pointed. Next to the stove there was a set of little wooden shelves, just right for a medium-sized spice collection.

"Oh," I said. "Right, yeah. I guess I made you one already."

"What about your place, Tom?"

"What about it?"

"Don't you think you should put up some shelves there? Build yourself a spice rack?"

"No," I said. "My place doesn't matter. And what would I do with a spice rack? I don't cook."

"I'm just saying that you put so much time and energy into fixing up my place, but maybe you should focus some of that effort on your own."

I looked at her. "What for? What would be the point of that?"

Copyright © 2003 by Sara Lewis

Meet the Author

Sara Lewis is the author of four other novels, Second Draft of My Life, The Answer Is Yes, But I Love You Anyway, and Heart Conditions, as well as the collection Trying to Smile and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, McCall's, Redbook, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, and other magazines as well as on National Public Radio. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children.

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Best of Good 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm only 15, yet I fell in love with this author! I've only read 2 or 3 of her books, but they're just very interesting! Very good reads for when there's just 'nothing else to read'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Best of Good is truly great novel. I wizzed through it in one day and couldn't have asked for a better read. I definitley recommend it to anyone who has a liking for a light-hearted and good humored book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am wild about Sara Lewis' books! To me she writes the kind of fiction I wish Anne Lamott would. Charming, funny, wry, true--with a huge dash of hope and kindness thrown in to sweeten the mix. Her characters remind me of people I actually know. Good, the musician of the title, is a wonderful guy, just...a little lost. We root for him all the way home--and here's a twist--he actually finds it! (his way home). How nice is that?