Shovel Ready

Shovel Ready

3.3 13
by Adam Sternbergh
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.

Spademan used to be a garbage man.  That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a

Overview

The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.

Spademan used to be a garbage man.  That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets.  When his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, he must navigate between these two worldsthe wasteland reality and the slick fantasyto finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
A dirty bomb explosion in Times Square leaves New York City half-emptied, save for the rich and the poor, in Sternberg’s first novel, a low-rent Raymond Chandler noir told in the style of very late James Ellroy. A former sanitation worker who calls himself Spademan now makes a living as a hit man. When Spademan agrees to kill 18-year-old Grace Chastity “Persephone” Harrow for an unknown client, he seeks her out among the park-living poor. That Persephone’s father is famed evangelist T.K. Harrow, who is about to hold a revival service in Radio City Music Hall, is just one of the complications that leads Spademan into deep trouble—both virtual and real. Evidently inspired by 1980s cyberpunk and movies like Strange Days, Sternbergh, the New York Times Magazine’s culture editor, adds nothing new to a near-future scenario in which the narrator, despite his insistence on strict moral standards, is little better than the book’s bad guys. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick & Williams. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
A Newsweek Best Books for 2014 
Salon.com Top Critics’ Best of 2014 selection
A 2015 Edgar Award Nominee

“Bogart-cool. . . . Razor-sharp. . . . The page-turning mood of Shovel Ready is addictive, by turns death-metal brutal and darkly hilarious.” —Entertainment Weekly

“[Sternbergh] skillfully blends elements of noir, sci-fi, and speculative fiction, and keeps the action and the dialogue energetic.” —The New Yorker
 
“A searing debut. . . . Stark dialogue and high-volume grit, which Sternbergh enhances with sci-fi and dark humor. . . . [This] shady antihero may have a long life ahead.” —USA Today
 
 “[A] sardonic thriller that serves up lots of barbs. . . . Uniquely engaging. . . . A great read, and its world still manages to hold you in its dirty clutches until the violent, fascinating conclusion.” —io9.com

“Energetic. . . . An enjoyable read.” —The Boston Globe

“A fast-paced thriller. . . . Darkly humorous, darkly cynical and darkly violent. Yeah, pretty dark. But the spare prose and no-nonsense voice of the troubled hitman narrator is so riveting and sympathetic that it is really difficult to put this book down.” —Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Orange County Register

“The best of two dark, amoral, existentially empty worlds!” —Time
 
“Boy, does this plot drive. It’s one of those books so gripping you read the whole thing in a single go. . . . Swift, [with] expertly timed twists and shocks, very hard to put down.” —The Guardian (UK)

“A lean thriller. . . . Sternbergh knows his way around the style, matching the staccato rhythms of violence to those of language. . . . [If] you want to know if it’s as awesome as it sounds. It is.” Chicago Tribune

“Reads like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road set in New York. . . . [An] agreeably macho dystopia.” Newsweek
 
“Sternbergh’s prose is lean and sparse. . . . Shovel Ready is exciting. It starts fast and the author keeps his foot on the gas. The thrills feel earned.” —The Globe and Mail
 
“Darkly funny.” —New York
 
“Memorably entertaining and garishly funny, Sternbergh’s debut novel is a winner.” Cleveland Plain-Dealer
 
“The best kind of hard boiled noir.” —GQ
 
“Sternbergh comes busting out of the gate with this gritty noir.” —Flavorwire
 
“Thrilling. . . . Like Raymond Chandler on a sleepless cyberpunk jag. . . . Sternbergh adroitly delivers shadowy adventure tropes within a surprisingly breezy read.”—Time Out New York
 
“Gripping. . . . A sharp, thought-provoking thriller. . . . The strongest impact of the book is the constant feeling it gives that the ghosts of 9/11 still haunt New York.” —National Post
 
“Stunning. . . . Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about.” —Booklist (starred review)
 
Spademan is an unlikely yet tragic hero, and it takes a talented author to make a reader root for such a damaged and ruthless man. Lean prose is punctuated by moments of shocking violence that only serve to underscore the novel’s underlying humanity. . . . This is a gripping genre mash-up and a stunning debut.” Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Hardboiled as f*** with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper-cut.” —Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls
 
“With prose chiseled to hardboiled perfection and a tale that throbs with the keen ache of noir, Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready reads like William Gibson as directed with inky brilliance by Christopher Nolan. Debut novels as sleek, resonant and accomplished as this are a rare gift.” —Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me
 
Shovel Ready tosses you off a precipice and you don’t know where you're going to land. Dark and often funny, with sparse, sharp language. Think Charlie Huston’s dystopian New York meets Richard Stark’s anti-hero— this is good, bitter fun.” —Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth and Babayaga
 
Shovel Ready is an elegant, lean and clever noir. It’s the best sci-fi thriller I’ve read since Snow Crash.” —Roger Hobbs, author of Ghostman
 
“A terrific debut. It has the grimy neon feel of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan combined with a touch of Philip K. Dick’s gonzo cyberpunk.” —Austin Grossman, author of You and Soon I Will Be Invincible
 
“Compulsive!  Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit.” —Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-05
A postmodern view of a dystopian, bombed-out New York City, as recounted by Spademan, a hired assassin. Spademan is a cynic, as any assassin worth his salt should be, but in this case, even his cynicism is tested when he's called upon to kill the 18-year-old daughter of T. K. Harrow, a famous evangelist. (Spademan kills men and women with ease but has always drawn the line at killing children because "that's a different kind of psycho.") The daughter, whose name is Grace Chastity but who goes by the more appropriate name of Persephone, is an elusive figure whom Spademan needs to track down, and when he finds her, she's five months pregnant. Her story is both horrifying and tragic, for she claims her father, the revered religious figure, is himself the father of her unborn child. Spademan finds his mission changing, for not only does he refuse to kill Chastity/Persephone, but instead decides to track down the well-protected Harrow. Along the way, he meets a raft of unsavory sociopathic types (is there any other kind?), like Simon the Magician, Harrow's head of security, a sadist of the first order. In this bleak, futuristic world, the rich immerse themselves in virtual reality for weeks at a time while the rabble has to contend with the charred remains of Manhattan. Spademan, who used to be a garbage man, discovers that dealing with the human detritus of New York is not that different from his previous profession. Telegraphic in style, this book is tough, sordid and definitely not for every taste.
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Former garbageman Spademan is a box cutter-wielding death dealer in a near future New York City decimated by car bombs and dirty bombs. Geiger counters are chic accessories for stylish youth, and jacking in to a thoroughly immersive virtual reality world is all the rage. Spademan thinks his life is simple—do the job, get paid—until his new mark turns out to be a young girl who calls herself Persephone. She's on the run from her very powerful father, and he'll do anything, and take down anyone, to get her back. Persephone's got secrets that could topple an evangelical empire, and she is determined at all costs to save herself. VERDICT First-time author Sternbergh takes a heavy dose of noir and sets it in a dystopian setting. Spademan is an unlikely yet tragic hero, and it takes a talented author to make a reader root for such a damaged and ruthless man. Lean prose is punctuated by moments of shocking violence that only serve to underscore the novel's underlying humanity, and Persephone is a shining, brutal example of the will to survive at all costs. This is a gripping genre mash-up and a stunning debut. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13; this title was selected for Barnes & Noble's Spring 2014 Discover Great New Writers season.—Ed.]—Kristin Centorcelli, Denton, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385348997
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Adam Sternbergh is the culture editor of The New York Times Magazine. Formerly an editor-at-large for New York, his writing has been featured in several other publications including GQ, The Times of London, and on the radio program This American Life. He lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a second Spademan novel.
 
www.adamsternbergh.com · @sternbergh

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Shovel Ready: A Novel 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is written with incredible stylistic precision - like a genre novel and a poem had a love child. The story is addictive, the characters are compelling and moving, the language is thrilling. I can't wait to see what Mr. Sternbergh (and Spademan) do next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Believe this is one of the worst books I have ever tried to read. I never start a book and not finish it but I did this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received the second novel in this series as an ARC from work recently and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I went and picked up the first in the series (Shovel Ready) the next day. I really enjoyed the author's unique writing style and structure. The protagonist is entertaining to follow. Though the novel is somewhat dark and gritty, it is filled with sarcastic comic relief. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a new, unique, and enjoyable read. I look foward to reading more from this author in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really can't believe that trash like this is actually published and peddled as literature. Even worse, I received in the mail today an offer from the Science Fiction Book Club for "Near Enemy", Part 2 of this trash saga, that positively swoons over Adam Sternbergh's tasteless trash. UGH! I've been a member of SFBC for more than fifty years and have witnessed a steady decline in the quality of the story-telling and -writing over the past few years that has me seriously wondering if the inmates of the asylum at the "Club" are at the helm now. I'm seriously rethinking that it is past time--well past time--to find another literature genre to occupy my interests if this kind of trash (it's not the first that has irritated me, only the latest) science fiction/fantasy has become.--AWB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark subject, but very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pitch black noir that packs a punch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good story from a stream of consciousness point of view, simplistic but overall a decent   book fun easy summer read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to follow. Plot too simplistic. Characters underdeveloped.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Theres this guy i like and we r best friends i want to ask him out but dont want to mess up our friendship i just dont know what to do please help~unsure