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Limitless
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Limitless

3.9 50
by Alan Glynn
 

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THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CBS SERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER BRADLEY COOPER

A burnout at thirty-five, months behind on his book, low on cash, and something of a loser, Eddie Spinola could use a shot in the arm. One day he randomly runs into Vernon, his ex-wife's brother, and his ex-dealer. Now employed by a shadowy pharmaceutical company, Vernon has something that

Overview

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CBS SERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER BRADLEY COOPER

A burnout at thirty-five, months behind on his book, low on cash, and something of a loser, Eddie Spinola could use a shot in the arm. One day he randomly runs into Vernon, his ex-wife's brother, and his ex-dealer. Now employed by a shadowy pharmaceutical company, Vernon has something that might help: a new designer drug that stimulates brain function. One pill and Eddie is hooked. His book is finished within days; he learns and synthesizes information at a frightening rate; and he can go a long time without sleep or food. Naturally, he begins to play the stock market. But when Vernon turns up dead, Eddie makes off with the only stash of the drug in existence. Then come the side effects: black-outs, blinding headaches, and violent outbursts he can't seem to remember.

Alan Glynn's Limitless is a high-concept thriller for this Adderall age, and a haunting meditation on the allure and the curse of human potential.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Alan Glynn has created enough twists and thrills to keep readers up late--even without resorting to illegal and dangerous substances.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A compulsive chemical thriller.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly
Bordering on techno-thriller territory, this slick, suspenseful debut imagines a new breed of "smart drug" that produces some deadly side effects. After complaining about life in desperate times to his drug dealer/ex-brother-in-law Vernon, divorced Manhattan copywriter Eddie Spinola is tempted by the glittering promise of MDT-48, an illegal, nearly unknown designer medication guaranteed to spike intelligence and personality in mere minutes. It really works, but Eddie's initial rush is so mind-blowing that even discovering Vernon's murdered body (and a hidden stash of cash and pills) barely interrupts his growing addiction. He chooses to ignore the mounting side effects of MDT-48: piercing headaches, intense bouts of rage and "trip-switching," a phenomenon in which time moves with a stop-motion quality. Day trading on the stock market like a seasoned professional, Eddie soon becomes an immensely wealthy junkie armed with awe-inspiring artistic and financial brainpower. But when he's implicated in the brutal murder of a high-profile artist's wife and also linked to pharmaceutical espionage, his perfect new world unravels and the shocking truth about MDT-48's origin and purpose is revealed. Glynn's sustained, rapid-fire pace hurls readers headfirst toward a gripping, if bleak, conclusion that makes for some breathless page-turning. Dublin-based Glynn, who lived in New York for four years, gets the frenzied pace of the city just right. And though Eddie's demise is foreshadowed from the opening paragraph, his likability as a protagonist serves the swift and thrilling narrative well. Fine secondary characters like shady Russian loan shark Gennady and Eddie's ex-wife Melissa appear in manyscenes, but the reader remains riveted to Eddie's fate in this impeccably imagined and executed debut. (Jan.) Forecast: Young, hip readers who are open to experimentation will be the first audience for this credible and timely thriller. Word of mouth will do the rest. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A high-finance thriller about a wonder street-drug that turns people into supercomputers, this debut from Dublin-based Glynn glitters with a carnival of effects but lacks thrust enough to stay in orbit.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312428877
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
364,551
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It's getting late.

    I don't have too sharp a sense of time any more, but I know it must be after eleven, and maybe even getting on for midnight. I'm reluctant to look at my watch, though — because that will only remind me of how little time I have left.

    In any case, it's getting late.

    And it's quiet. Apart from the ice-machine humming outside my door and the occasional car passing by on the highway, I can't actually hear a thing — no traffic, or sirens, or music, or local people talking, or animals making weird nightcalls to each other, if that's what animals do. Nothing. No sounds at all. It's eerie, and I don't really like it. So maybe I shouldn't have come all the way up here. Maybe I should have just stayed in the city, and let the time-lapse flicker of the lights short-circuit my now preternatural attention span, let the relentless bustle and noise wear me down and burn up all this energy I've got pumping through my system. But if I hadn't come up here to Vermont, to this motel — to the Northview Motor Lodge — where would I have stayed? I couldn't very well have inflicted my little mushroom-cloud of woes on any of my friends, so I guess I had no option but to do what I did — get in a car and leave the city, drive hundreds of miles up here to this quiet, empty part of the country ...

    And to this quiet, empty motel room, with its three different but equally busy décor patterns — carpet, wallpaper, blankets — vying, screaming, for my attention — to say nothing of the shopping-mallartwork everywhere, the snowy mountain scene over the bed, the Sunflowers reproduction by the door.

    I am sitting in a wicker armchair in a Vermont motel room, everything unfamiliar to me. I've got a laptop computer balanced on my knees and a bottle of Jack Daniel's on the floor beside me. I'm facing the TV set, which is bolted to the wall in the corner, and is switched on, tuned to CNN, but with the sound turned right down. There is a panel of commentators on the screen — national security' advisers, Washington correspondents, foreign policy experts — and although I can't hear them, I know what they're talking about ... they're talking about the situation, the crisis, they're talking about Mexico.

    Finally — giving in — I look at my watch.

    I can't believe that it's been nearly twelve hours already. In a while, of course, it will be fifteen hours, and then twenty hours, and then a whole day. What happened in Manhattan this morning is receding, slipping back along all those countless, small-town Main Streets, and along all those miles of highway, hurtling backwards through time, and at what feels like an unnaturally rapid pace. But it is also beginning to break up under the immense pressure, beginning to crack and fragment into separate shards of memory — while simultaneously remaining, of course, in some kind of a suspended, inescapable present tense, set hard, unbreakable ... more real and alive than anything I can see around me here in this motel room.

    I look at my watch again.

    The thought of what happened sets my heart pounding, and audibly, as if it's panicking in there and will shortly be forcing its way, thrashing and flailing, out of my chest. But at least my head hasn't started pounding. That will come, I know, sooner or later — the intense pin-prick behind the eyeballs spreading out into an excruciating, skull-wide agony. But at least it hasn't started yet.

    Clearly, though, time is running out.


So how do I begin this?

    I suppose I brought the laptop with me intending to get everything down on a disk, intending to write a straightforward account of what happened, and yet here I am hesitating, circling over the material, dithering around as if I had a couple of months at my disposal and some sort of a reputation to protect. The thing is, I don't have a couple of months — I probably only have a couple of hours — and I don't have any reputation to protect, but I still feel as if I should be going for a bold opening here, something grand and declamatory, the kind of thing a bearded omniscient narrator from the nineteenth century might put in to kick-start his latest 900-pager.

    The broad stroke.

    Which, I feel, would go with the general territory.

    But the plain truth is, there was nothing broad-stroke-ish about it, nothing grand and declamatory in how all of this got started, nothing particularly auspicious in my running into Vernon Gant on the street one afternoon a few months ago.

    And that, I suppose, really is where I should start.


Chapter Two


Vernon Gant.

    Of all the various relationships and shifting configurations that can exist within a modern family, of all the potential relatives that can be foisted upon you — people you'll be tied to for ever, in documents, in photographs, in obscure corners of memory — surely for sheer tenuousness, absurdity even, one figure must stand towering above all others, one figure, alone and multi-hyphenated: the ex-brother-in-law.

    Hardly fabled in story and song, it's not a relationship that requires renewal. What's more, if you and your former spouse don't have any children then there's really no reason for you ever, ever to see this person again in your entire life. Unless, of course, you just happen to bump into him in the street and are unable, or not quick enough, to avoid making eye contact.

    It was a Tuesday afternoon in February, about four o'clock, sunny and not too cold. I was walking along Twelfth Street at a steady clip, smoking a cigarette, heading towards Fifth Avenue. I was in a bad mood and entertaining dark thoughts about a wide range of subjects, my book for Kerr & Dexter — Turning On: From Haight-Ashbury to Silicon Valley — chief among them, though there was nothing unusual about that, since the subject thrummed relentlessly' beneath everything I did, every meal I ate, every shower I took, every ballgame I watched on TV, every late-night trip to the corner store for milk, or toilet-paper, or chocolate, or cigarettes. My fear on that particular afternoon, as I remember, was that the book just wouldn't hang together. You've got to strike a delicate balance in this kind of thing between telling the story and ... telling the story — if you know what I mean — and I was worried that maybe there was no story, that the basic premise of the book was a crock of shit. In addition to this, I was thinking about my apartment on Avenue A and Tenth Street and how I needed to move to a bigger place, but how that idea also filled me with dread — taking my books down off their shelves, sorting through my desk, then packing everything into identical boxes, forget it. I was thinking about my ex-girlfriend, too — Maria, and her ten-year-old daughter, Romy — and how I'd clearly been the wrong guy to be around that situation. I never used to say enough to the mom and couldn't rein in my language when I was talking to the kid. Other dark thoughts I was having: I smoked too much and had a sore chest. I had a host of companion symptoms as well, niggly physical things that showed up occasionally, weird aches, possible lumps, rashes, symptoms of a condition maybe, or a network of conditions. What if they all held hands one day, and lit up, and I keeled over dead?

    I thought about how I hated the way I looked, and how I needed a haircut.

    I flicked ash from my cigarette on to the sidewalk. I glanced up. The corner of Twelfth and Fifth was about twenty yards ahead of me. Suddenly a guy came careering around the corner from Fifth, walking as fast as I was. An aerial view would have shown us — two molecules — on a direct collision course. I recognized him at ten yards and he recognized me. At five yards we both started putting the brakes on and making with the gestures, the bug-eyes, the double-takes.

    'Eddie Spinola.'

    'Vernon Gant.'

    'How are you?'

    'God, how long has it been?'

    We shook hands and slapped shoulders.

    Vernon then stood back a little and started sizing me up.

    'Jesus, Eddie, pack it on, why don't you?'

    This was a reference to the considerable weight I'd gained since we'd last met, which was maybe nine or ten years before.

    He was tall and skinny, just like he'd always been. I looked at his balding head, and paused. Then I nodded upwards. 'Well, at least I still have some choice in the matter.'

    He danced Jake La Motta-style for a moment and then threw me a mock left hook.

    'Still Mr Smart-ass, huh? So what are you up to, Eddie?'

    He was wearing an expensive, loose-fitting linen suit and dark leather shoes. He had gold-rimmed shades on, and a tan. He looked and smelled like money.

    What was I up to?

    All of a sudden I didn't want to be having this conversation.

    'I'm working for Kerr & Dexter, you know, the publishers.'

    He sniffed and nodded yeah, waiting for more.

    'I've been a copywriter with them for about three or four years, text-books and manuals, that kind of thing, but now they're doing a series of illustrated books on the twentieth century — you know, hoping to cash in on an early boom in the nostalgia trade — and I've been commissioned to do one about the design links between the Sixties and the Nineties ...'

    'Interesting.'

    '... Haight-Ashbury and Silicon Valley ...'

    'Very interesting.'

    I hammered it home, 'Lysergie acid and personal computers.'

    'Cool.'

    'It's not really. They don't pay very well and because the books are going to be so short — only about a hundred pages, a hundred twenty — you don't have much latitude, which actually makes it more of a challenge, because ...'

    I stopped.

    He furrowed his brow. 'Yeah?'

    '... because ...' — explaining myself like this was sending unexpected stabs of embarrassment, and contempt, right through me and out the other side. I shuffled from one foot to the other. '... because, welt, you're basically writing captions to the illustrations and so if you want to get any kind of angle across you have to be really on top of the material, you know.'


Excerpted from THE DARK FIELDS by Alan Glynn. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Glynn. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

ALAN GLYNN is a graduate of Trinity College. His first novel, The Dark Fields, was released in March 2011 as the movie Limitless by Relativity Media. He is also the author of Winterland.

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Limitless 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Christina Abrams More than 1 year ago
It was an excellent read but I was expecting it to be similar to the movie. It stopped being similar about halfway through. The ending also was not as satifactory as the movie. Either read the book or see the movie. Do not do both.
Kay Brady More than 1 year ago
Keeps you involved. Has a few holes but are minor compared to the complexity of the story being told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie first then read the book and they are both great. The book and the movie are only about 60 percent the same so treat yourself to both if you have not already. I found the book to be almost impossible to put down.
iceyfresh88 More than 1 year ago
One of the few books where the movie seems to have come out better than the book itself. Great book if you saw the movie there are alot of parallels but many more things in contrast. The ending is different than in the movie so don't think you know whats going to happen ;) enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it also comes in a movie
indy-fritz More than 1 year ago
Limitless is the hot new novel that is soon to come out as a feature film. judging only from the previews at this point i'm not sure the movie will play the same as the book. this is the story of one Eddie Spinola a down and out lackluster dulleyed writer who just can't seem to get himself going anymore. he is introduced to the drug that brings out one's true potential, but at what price. more drug and a string of problems later and Eddie stands on the edge of control. It's a thrilling story that will keep you awake at night. to me it was almost a new take on Jekyl and Hyde. The character is identifiable and we root for him, but the big question is will Eddie find a way out of the rabbit hole? Find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the first time, I can honestly say the Movie was better than the book.
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Who ever scripted the movie did the author a favor.This is the first time I can actually say ilkied the movie better than the book , the leading charachter is unimpressive in the book.
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