Something for Nothing

( 8 )

Overview

Martin Anderson has a racehorse, a deep-sea fishing boat, a vacation home in Tahoe, and a Caddy in the garage. But his life is in freefall. It's the 1970s, and with the arrival of the oil crisis and gas rationing, his small aircraft business is tanking, as is his extravagant suburban lifestyle. Martin keeps many secrets from his wife, from his mounting debt to his penchant for sneaking into neighborhood homes and making off with small keepsakes. So when he's given the opportunity to clear his debt by using one of...

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Something for Nothing

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Overview

Martin Anderson has a racehorse, a deep-sea fishing boat, a vacation home in Tahoe, and a Caddy in the garage. But his life is in freefall. It's the 1970s, and with the arrival of the oil crisis and gas rationing, his small aircraft business is tanking, as is his extravagant suburban lifestyle. Martin keeps many secrets from his wife, from his mounting debt to his penchant for sneaking into neighborhood homes and making off with small keepsakes. So when he's given the opportunity to clear his debt by using one of his planes to make a few drug runs between California and Mexico, Martin accepts the offer . . . only to find his troubles have just begun.

Smart, suspenseful, and funny, David Anthony's debut is a perfect snapshot of America's misguided pursuit of happiness—then, and now.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's 1974, gas is scarce, and Martin Anderson's cushy life is taking a serious nosedive in Anthony's clever and surprisingly heartfelt debut. Living in the wealthy Oakland, Calif., suburb of Walnut Station with his family, Martin owns a small airplane dealership that, before the economic slump, was booming, and Martin spent accordingly: cabin in Tahoe, nice cars, swimming pool, and, most importantly, his racehorses. But now he's in serious debt—until Val Desmond, Martin's horse trainer, comes to him with a proposition. Val knows men who are eager to transport large quantities of heroin into the U.S. from Mexico. Enter Martin and his piloting expertise. Soon he's flying to Ensenada whenever Val gives him the signal. Of course, nothing goes smoothly and soon there's a narcotics detective sniffing around—supposedly about an unrelated case—not to mention a gruesome double murder and Martin's deteriorating relationship with his wife, Linda. The parallels Anthony draws between the 1974 economic crisis and our own are successful precisely because they're not overt, just like his depiction of Martin as an antihero succeeds because his ridiculous antics are laced with a yearning to belong that's so intense it borders on deranged innocence, rendering him the most lovable drug smuggler in ages. (June)
From the Publisher
“[A] clever and surprisingly heartfelt debut… The parallels Anthony draws between the 1974 economic crisis and our own are successful precisely because they’re not overt, just like his depiction of Martin as an antihero succeeds because his ridiculous antics are laced with a yearning to belong that’s so intense it borders on deranged innocence, rendering him the most lovable drug smuggler in ages.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[Anthony’s] achievement here is his main character’s tragicomic inner life. As Martin spins out rationalizations and fantasies—he reckons himself to be on a moral par with Robin Hood or Jack the Giant Killer—readers will laugh and point fingers, but they will also see something of themselves.”—ForeWord Reviews

Booklist

“Anthony’s first novel…speeds to an adrenaline-charged climax in a conflict fueled by greed. Provocative, genre-spanning fiction by an author to watch.”—Booklist

ForeWord reviews
“Anthony’s first novel…speeds to an adrenaline-charged climax in a conflict fueled by greed. Provocative, genre-spanning fiction by an author to watch.”—Booklist
Kirkus Reviews

In Anthony's debut, a high-living 1970s aircraft salesmantries to clear his mounting debts by pilotingheroin into California from Mexico.

The oil embargo of 1973-74 is especially devastating for Martin Anderson, bon vivant. Emboldened by profits, he's moved his family into an expensive Bay Areasuburb and acquired expensive hobbies and baubles: cabin cruiser, racehorse,cabin in Tahoe, big Cadillac. Now he's not only overstretched financially, but his family life is souring, too. His junior-high daughter has been experimenting with pot; his 9-year-old son is sending baffling, aggressive typed notes to classmates: "JESUS HATES YOU."Martin ismired in ever deeper debt, and when his horse trainer, Val, offers a chance to have$40,000forgiven and earn $5,000 a tripby making night flights as an amateur smuggler, he jumps.As anyone who's everseen a '70sdetective show or read the scores of similar novelsknows, this is a DoomedIdea, drug-dealing thugs being what they are. Thingsquickly devolve. A narcotics detective starts snooping around, enlisting Martin's aid in a supposedly unrelated case; then Martin accidentally estranges himself from his wife, and she takes off with the kids(the half that's NOT an accident hasless to dowith Martin'sneedsthan with the plot's; it won't do to have Martin's innocent familyaround when the mayhem begins). Soon thereafter, Val and his wife are brutally murdered, Martin finds himselfwith a big cacheof drug money and we're set up for a bloody denouement. Where this book exceeds the expectations of its formula is in the finesse and wit with which Anthony handles both the setting and the swaggering, self-absorbedbut often likable protagonist—he captures the ethos of the '70s and the soul of sad-sack Martinadmirably, and the links to our own time are compelling. But the plot seems contrived and familiar.

Not nothing, but it could have really been something.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616200220
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Anthony grew up in the Bay Area. He is an associate professor of early American literature in the Department of English at SIU-Carbondale. This is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 2, 2011

    GOOD BUT NOT GREAT

    Easy read, not a bad plot, some dark humor. But I did become exasperated with Martin, the main character, who has a little personality disorder going on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2011

    definitely sucked me in

    My wife got me this a while ago, and I didn't read it until vacation last week. But once I started it I really got into it. It was funny, and the 70s setting took me back, especially the gas lines. And I liked the horse racing angle. It's also a real page turner, especially in the last section, or about the last 150 pages. I definitely felt like the main character, Martin, was someone you could relate to, even though he was kind of weird and a self-absorbed jerk. I liked it a lot and I recommend it to anyone who likes suspense but also just a good read.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Wish I had saved this for my vacation!

    I finished this book last night and I don't know how to describe it, but I really liked it. It's funny and goofy but in a good way. The main character reminds me of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty because he has this ongoing fantasy life that is easy to make fun of, but then you realize, hey, who doesn't want to be the hero, who doesn't want it all, in their private minds. I don't want to give away the plot, but it actually gets pretty nerve-wracking and I didn't expect that. I will definitely read more of this author.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    hilarious and exciting

    I thought this book was really funny, but it was also suspenseful enough to hold my interest. I was especially drawn in for the last hundred pages or so, when things got really tense and surprising. I loved the stuff about the 1970's and the gas crisis for a setting. An original and enjoyable read.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not much to it.

    I guess if you are young enough to have missed the 70s it might be educational, but for those of use that lived through (and still remember) them.... well there's nothing new or insightful here. Plot is fairly predicable and the characters are shallow except for Martin, the main. He's incredably unlikable, as is the whole book actually. It's poorly written, digresses consistently and never delivers a "wow" feeling. Don't waste your time and money.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    A Great Mystery

    I'm not a big mystery reader. Usually I keep to literary fiction and then some historical non-fiction. Something for Nothing, though, was a great break from my normal intake. The flow carries you along. It's not a chore at all like a lot of other books in this genre tend to be. Plus, the content is really compelling, especially if you have any interest in history. The plot is wrapped up in the social and political developments of the late seventies from a uniquely human perspective in Martin Anderson. While this might otherwise appear like a nostalgia play, Anthony pulls it off very well. The setting is very convincing and the characters are easy to relate to.

    The plot is really strong and leads to an unpredictable ending that I read over two or three times after I first finished. It was shocking, intricate and very original. I'd recommend this book to serious fiction readers and to people who just need a book to bring to the beach. I wouldn't want anyone to miss it.

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    Posted May 5, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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