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Ovenman
     

Ovenman

3.0 3
by Jeff Parker
 

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This debut novel follows When Thinfinger--skateboarder, kitchen worker extraordinaire, and ne'er-do-well with a slightly tarnished heart of gold--and the trail of Post-It notes he relies on to make sense of his world. When a robbery occurs at his beloved pizza parlor, things begin to heat up for Ovenman.
Skateboarder, restaurant worker, and punk rocker wannabe, the

Overview

This debut novel follows When Thinfinger--skateboarder, kitchen worker extraordinaire, and ne'er-do-well with a slightly tarnished heart of gold--and the trail of Post-It notes he relies on to make sense of his world. When a robbery occurs at his beloved pizza parlor, things begin to heat up for Ovenman.
Skateboarder, restaurant worker, and punk rocker wannabe, the antihero of Jeff Parker’s uproariously funny debut novel adds a new twist to the classic coming-of-age story. Our hero, When Thinfinger, is a ne’er-do-well with a slightly tarnished heart of gold, and relies on Post-it notes to help him make sense of the chaos and momentum of his life: a girlfriend who dreams he murders her, a long lost Biodad who writes letters filled with lies, a televised war that is over before it has even begun, and a robbery he can’t remember committing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Parker's hilarious debut introduces to the world pizza-slinging, skateboarding, tattooed anti-hero When Thinfinger.... the narrative is full of surprises, dark humor and a cast of nutty eccentrics vast enough to staff a vulgar circus." -Publishers Weekly

"Ovenman by Jeff Parker is a brilliant addition to the growing genre of serious slacker literature. Parker's When Thinfinger is a direct descendant of Ignatius J. Reilly, Frank Portman's King Dork, Arthur Nersesian's F*ckup, and Sam Lipsyte's Teabag. It's a joy to ride along on the back of his Haro with the kinky triangular frame or non-motorized longboard; as he careens from hardcore shows to the kitchen of Piecemeal Pizza (where he finally finds a form of, well, peace), through nights of not-quite-satisfying debauchery and into painful mornings and the inevitable discovery of the cryptic post-it notes written from his blackout drunk self to his hungover self. Ovenman is a great exercise in storytelling and voice, and it was the most entertaining (and underappreciated) book I read in 2007." -Dave Housley, E!Online Books You Must Read: Picks for 2007

"One of the most raucous and fun books I've read in ages...Ovenman is a frenetic blast of pleasure: a depiction of America at its skankiest, populated with unlikely heroes and told with a reckless glee that commands serious attention." -Chas Bowie, The Portland Mercury

"Ovenman's considerable charm and clout lie in this combination of the specific absurdities of Thinfinger's day-to-day and his often thwarted search for meaning." -Heather Birrell, The Believer

"Ovenman reads like a high calibre graphic novel, minus the graphics. Cluttered, uncomfortable, compulsively crafted, unashamed of occasional farce or relentless surreal quirky distortion, this is writing you might imagine coming out of the brain of Julie Doucet, if she were a guy who lived in Florida." -Juliet Waters, Montreal Mirror

"While the plot is certifiably hilarious, it's really When's voice that's in the driver's seat. Dazed, confused, and occasionally caring, he carries all 250 pages of this terrifically entertaining novel." -Toby Warner, Boldtype

"Equal parts sleazy and frenetic, Parker's debut is a chortle-out-loud story about the sweaty, battle-scarred struggle between creating self-monuments and throwing hand grenades." -Annie Bethancourt, Williamette Week

"Ovenman may leave some readers puzzling over how When can be such a dope in some ways and still such a fun narrator. Parker rides that thin line of narrative balance and manages to make When a triumphant antihero." - Kevin Sampsell, The Oregonian

"Rarely are mopping and pizza dough so pleasingly rendered. Even inside When's world of chaos, Parker's novel pushes forward with grace. This is a delight of a debut." -Aimee Bender, author of Willful Creatures and An Invisible Sign of My Own

"Funny, soulful, and energetic, Ovenman is wonderful." -Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica

"Jeff Parker is a writer who understands that voice is the doorway to all true beauty in fiction. Tight, wry, dark, and deeply funny - he is a master of the hyper-compressed sentence that explodes with more meaning and nuance than should be possible. Ovenman is a welcome addition to the literature of the lovably hapless by a young writer with talent to burn." -George Saunders, author of Pastoralia and In Persuasion Nation

"In his utterly original Ovenman, Parker has created a time capsule of the nineties in Central Florida and an ode to the mysteries and hopes and acrobatics of youth. When Thinfinger, the skateboarding philosopher at the heart of this terrific novel, is brilliantly acerbic and uncommonly insightful. And awfully, awfully funny. Here's a brief note of which I hope he'd approve: This novel really cooks. Read it tonight." -Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Corpus Christi: Stories

"Mr. Parker has written a weirdly attractive life of people one thought had no life, the pierced and tatted xtremes. Creepy, convincing, hooty, and fun. The movie will be scary." -Padgett Powell, author of Mrs. Hollingsworth's Men

"Ovenman should end up being taught in MFA programs as an incredible example of a novel centered around voice. That's not to say that all Jeff Parker has done is come up with a great voice, the characters and plot of Ovenman are fantastic as well." - Dan Wickett, Emerging Writers Network

"Parker riffs on the brilliant, bombastic language of one When Thinfinger, pizza cook and then night manager at Gainesville, FL's Piecemeal Pizza by the Slice. When is a skater, which is a milieu Parker describes with effortless authority, but even that underground community, surfing's runty cousin, can't fully account for the novel imagery Parker invests Thinfinger's language with." -Matt Dube, Diagram

"Vivid and honest...Ovenman is propelled by tight and precise sentences that fall from one into the other as Thinfinger's life falls apart. The writing is wonderfully specific, creating a vibrant image of the setting, both physical and temporal. Above all, the pleasure one takes in the writing and the story is emboldened by the dark and twisted humour. Ovenman is at once funny, sad, disturbing and insightful, and a promising debut from a talented author." —Mike Spry, Matrix Magazine

The Portland Mercury
One of the most raucous and fun books I've read in ages...Ovenman is a frenetic blast of pleasure: a depiction of America at its skankiest, populated with unlikely heroes and told with a reckless glee that commands serious attention.
—Chas Bowie
Williamette Week
Equal parts sleazy and frenetic, Parker's debut is a chortle-out-loud story about the sweaty, battle-scarred struggle between creating self-monuments and throwing hand grenades.
—Annie Bethancourt
Boldtype
While the plot is certifiably hilarious, it's really When's voice that's in the driver's seat. Dazed, confused, and occasionally caring, he carries all 250 pages of this terrifically entertaining novel.
—Toby Warner
Montreal Mirror
Ovenman reads like a high calibre graphic novel, minus the graphics. Cluttered, uncomfortable, compulsively crafted, unashamed of occasional farce or relentless surreal quirky distortion, this is writing you might imagine coming out of the brain of Julie Doucet, if she were a guy who lived in Florida.
—Juliet Waters
Publishers Weekly

Parker's hilarious debut introduces to the world pizza-slinging, skateboarding, tattooed antihero When Thinfinger. Drinking and stealing his way through a series of dead-end restaurant jobs, When lands a gig at Piecemeal Pizza by the Slice, the best pizza joint in his Florida town. As Ovenman-a much-coveted position, compared to Dish Dog or Front Girl-When spends his days and nights perfecting the art of slicing pies and belting out nonsense lyrics as a singer in the band Wormdevil. His girlfriend, Marigold, sleeps on his couch, convinced that her dreams of When murdering her will come true. After Piecemeal is robbed and When wakes up from a drinking binge in possession of a pizza box full of cash, he must figure out what happened, and more importantly, who else knows the truth. Though When's ne'er-do-well brooding can slow the pace, the narrative is full of surprises, dark humor and a cast of nutty eccentrics vast enough to staff a vulgar circus. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A novel of pizza parlors, skateboarding, tattoos and piercings-needless to say, it's a portrait of the '90s. Narrator When Thinfinger is the eponymous character. He's a denizen of Florida, lover of Marigold, friend of Blaise and aficionado of skateboards and street bikes, his favorite being a "Haro with the kinky triangular frame." Although he's recently lost his job as pit cook at Ken's Barbie-Q, life is looking up when he finds a position as Ovenman at Piecemeal Pizza By The Slice, a microcosm of the weird subculture When inhabits. This is the kind of place where people are identified by their social or culinary functions rather than by their names-or rather, their function becomes their names: Thin Pie Guy, Pasta Dude, Front Girl, Salad Bitch. Ovenman literally makes notes of things ("Pizza is Power"; "I am Ovenman") all on post-its that he puts on whatever surface is available, including his body. The plot is episodic: Marigold breaks her back trying a maneuver on a bike (at Ovenman's behest); Ovenman tries to get away with whatever funds he can embezzle from Piecemeal; Ovenman gets pierced against his will in the most painful place imaginable at Second Skin Piercing; Ovenman seeks out his "biodad" in Ohio for an abortive homecoming. Ovenman tends to simplify life to conform to his self-acknowledged limitations. When he sets a lock combination, for example, it must be 23-3-7 because it's the only one he can remember. (It spells "beer" on a telephone.) He describes a shirt as having a smell of "total MoonPie wrapper." In a spasm of insight toward the end of the novel, Ovenman exclaims: "Suddenly I am risking my job, the only real connection I have to anything in this life." At leasthere he acknowledges that the stakes are fairly high. It's all meant to be self-consciously amusing, but much of the humor is tedious, and quirks stand in for character.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780977698929
Publisher:
Tin House Books
Publication date:
08/28/2007
Series:
Tin House New Voice Series
Pages:
250
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Jeff Parker is the author of the novel Ovenman and the collection The Back of the Line and the coeditor of Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States. He served as the program director of Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is currently the acting director of the Master’s Program in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

Sam Lipsyteis the author of the story collectionsVenus Drive(named one of the top twenty-five books of its year by theVoice Literary Supplement) andThe Fun Partsand three novels:The Ask,The Subject Steve,andHome Land, which was aNew York TimesNotable Book and received the first annualBelieverBook Award. He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.

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Ovenman 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a lot of fun to read! I had an empty day, and while at the university library, I picked it up, and finished about 30 hours later. The plot may seem mundane, but the scene, the lifestyle, and the eclectic characters make this book a relaxed read you'll reflect upon later.