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The Book of Why: A Novel
     

The Book of Why: A Novel

3.6 3
by Nicholas Montemarano
 

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"This is a haunting and extraordinary book." — Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge

Self-help writer Eric Newborn's motivational books have spawned a legion of devoted followers who swear that his ideas have pulled their lives from the brink. But after Eric can't save his own wife from dying, he finds himself at a loss

Overview

"This is a haunting and extraordinary book." — Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge

Self-help writer Eric Newborn's motivational books have spawned a legion of devoted followers who swear that his ideas have pulled their lives from the brink. But after Eric can't save his own wife from dying, he finds himself at a loss — the power of positive thinking is simply not enough to overcome his grief. Retreating to the home he and his wife shared on Martha's Vineyard, Eric, with his dog as his closest companion, attempts to distance himself from the teachings he has come to hate.

But when a woman named Sam shows up at his door one night five years later, Eric must finally confront his heartache and reconcile his worldview with the pain he has suffered.

At once a powerful love story, a stirring portrait of a soul laid bare by grief, and a celebration of coincidence, connection, and the belief that true love never dies, The Book of Why explores the deep powers of the heart and mind to shape the world around us, blurring the lines between loss and love, fate and free will, despair and joy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK OF WHY:"

Montemarano is a brilliant illuminator of the outer reaches of hope, a writer unafraid to ask the hardest questions: Is there meaning behind human suffering? Are we responsible, somehow, for the tragedies that befall us? Do we have the power to change our lives? And if not, what's left for us? You'll read this stunning novel compulsively, at first in search of answers, then from a deep and painful affection for the human beings you'll meet in these pages. This is a haunting and extraordinary book." — Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge"

A fascinating tale of faith, doubt.... An extraordinarily interesting book." — Carolyn See, The Washington Post"

I love Nicholas Montemarano's writing. He turns the lights up so bright on the beauty of daily life that the dark places he goes leave you gasping. The Book of Why is a breath-taking show of love and hope, of disappearing acts, of restorative reappearances. It is, in a word, magic." — Rachel DeWoskin, author of Big Girl Small"

Love and death: our two greatest mysteries. Not many writers have the guts or the skill to take them on at the same time, but Nicholas Montemarano has both. With The Book of Why, he's managed a seemingly impossible feat-using language to delineate, with great compassion and precision, that which appears ineffable." — Ron Currie, Jr., author of Everything Matters!

"Nicholas Montemarano is a brilliant storyteller with a poet's heart-and The Book of Why is an intricately constructed narrative, part riveting, part reverie, entirely beautiful. I wanted this novel to last forever, and still I could not bear to put it down-kind of like life itself." — Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Late Wife"

The Book of Why presents a compulsively readable mystery; it is impossible to resist how persuasively Montemarano plays with the metaphysics of love and desire." — Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia"

The Book of Why progresses with the intimacy of a long letter written just to you... Along the way, there's some lovely writing... He's created an affecting tale of a man mightily striving to excavate some meaning from profound heartache."—WBUR's The ARTery"

Beautifully written and pleasantly quirky...Ralph lives in the novel the way dogs live in the lives of of dog lovers everywhere-sleeping a lot, playing fetch and loving the people who love her." — The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Pet Tales

PRAISE FOR NICHOLAS MONTEMARANO:

"Remarkable . . . deft storytelling and ruthless honesty . . . as dark and dazzling as a mine shaft studded with diamonds." — The New York Times Book Review"

An American stylist capable of redeeming our darkest dreams." — Jayne Anne Phillips"

One of my favorite contemporary short-story writers, and, for my money, among the best we've got." — Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me"

Dark, powerful . . . Montemarano handles brutality and abjection with ambiguity and subtlety." — Publishers Weekly "

Montemarano's writing is sure and clear and direct. He describes the banalities of everyday life with clinical precision." — San Francisco Chronicle

The Washington Post - Carolyn See
…no matter how you read The Book of Why, it turns out to be an extraordinarily interesting book.
Publishers Weekly
Everything happens for a reason—except when it doesn’t. This is the premise of Montemarano’s (If the Sky Falls) quasi-philosophical second novel, which asks the question: why doesn’t it? Too-aptly-named life coach Eric Newborn cuts himself off from the world after his wife, Cary, dies of complications from a brain tumor. A guru of positive thinking and hailed preacher of “anything is possible,” Eric becomes the “self-help author who can’t help himself.” Montemarano, a Pushcart-winner who has appeared four times in Best American Short Stories volumes, has a strong grasp of New Age–speak (which is quite funny at times). He has created a mishmash of fan letter snippets; choppy, stream-of-consciousness meditations on loss; and flashbacks to Eric and Cary’s solid marriage and her decline, painting a convincing portrait of a breakdown of faith and self-worth. But a convoluted and thin thread involving a wacko groupie who shows up seeking counsel, while offering her own misguided version of renewal, takes some steam out of the novel. The path this groupie leads Eric down—a spontaneous road trip to a place from a dream in search of a stranger she believes is connected to Eric’s past—feels too overburdened with coincidences to be credible. Agent: Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Jan.)
San Francisco Chronicle
Montemarano's writing is sure and clear and direct. He describes the banalities of everyday life with clinical precision.
Dan Chaon
One of my favorite contemporary short-story writers, and, for my money, among the best we've got.
author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me
Kirkus Reviews
An author of self-help books discovers that the easy solutions he gives others are of little help in resolving Big Life Issues. Eric Newborn--yes, the name is symbolic--writes books on "Everyday Miracles" and gives cheery pep talks at Celebrate Life conferences, dispensing nostrums such as, "We really do get what we're thinking about" and "Every one of you has the potential to heal. You are all miracle workers." But he finds it difficult to take his own advice when his beloved wife dies. He winds up living a reclusive life on Martha's Vineyard, his days filled with memories both of his wife and of his childhood--filled with magic, wonder and fear--in Queens, and he walks his dog, Ralph. One day, a woman named Sam has a car accident near Eric's home, and he does what he can to aid her, all the while hiding his identity. And then Eric himself has an accident, and Sam in turn nurses him. She finds out who he is--Sam's a big fan, and neither one truly believes in what seem to be random and capricious life events. (In fact, Eric's last book is There Are No Accidents.) Eric allows himself to engage in a series of deep memories about life with his wife, their inability to conceive and the couple's eventually becoming foster parents. He also allows himself to imagine alternative endings to their life together, the "might-have-beens" that could have structured their future. Eric's poignant loss reminds us all of the fragility of relationships and of the hard truths we find difficult to face.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316188463
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
02/11/2014
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
344,035
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

Jayne Anne Phillips
An American stylist capable of redeeming our darkest dreams.
Claudia Emerson
Nicholas Montemarano is a brilliant storyteller with a poet's heart—and The Book of Why is an intricately constructed narrative, part riveting, part reverie, entirely beautiful. I wanted this novel to last forever, and still I could not bear to put it down—kind of like life itself.
—Claudia Emerson (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Late Wife)
Rachel DeWoskin
I love Nicholas Montemarano's writing. He turns the lights up so bright on the beauty of daily life that the dark places he goes leave you gasping. The Book of Why is a breath-taking show of love and hope, of disappearing acts, of restorative reappearances. It is, in a word, magic.
— Rachel DeWoskin (author of BIG GIRL SMALL)
Julie Orringer
Montemarano is a brilliant illuminator of the outer reaches of hope, a writer unafraid to ask the hardest questions: Is there meaning behind human suffering? Are we responsible, somehow, for the tragedies that befall us? Do we have the power to change our lives? And if not, what's left for us? You'll read this stunning novel compulsively, at first in search of answers, then from a deep and painful affection for the human beings you'll meet in these pages. This is a haunting and extraordinary book.
—Julie Orringer (author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Montemarano is the author of a story collection, If the Sky Falls (a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice) and a debut novel, A Fine Place. He is Associate Professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

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The Book of Why: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read. The book makes you question what is all the rage (I.e "Law of Attraction"). It doesn't provide all the answers but makes you question the why. Keep a hankie handy.
GrammyReading More than 1 year ago
Why, Why, Why??.....well, why not!...going along with the self help guru turned disallusioned widower...the only love left being with the dog...going along with the i want to be alone and remember every moment of before...going along with the possibility of our dearly departed loved one reaching back to communicate with us.....but the rest of it......why?...no, really......Why???