The Punch: A Novel

Overview

David believes that at heart, people are inherently rotten. Scott, his brother, believes that his life is going to fall apart, and that everyone he loves will leave him. Doris, their mother, believes that she has nothing to lose by revealing a 60-year-old family secret. This hysterically biting and ultimately redeeming novel by Noah Hawley proves them all rightand wrongwhile answering some of life's biggest questions. Like, how did Scott end up with two wonderful wives simultaneously? And why can't David manage ...

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Overview

David believes that at heart, people are inherently rotten. Scott, his brother, believes that his life is going to fall apart, and that everyone he loves will leave him. Doris, their mother, believes that she has nothing to lose by revealing a 60-year-old family secret. This hysterically biting and ultimately redeeming novel by Noah Hawley proves them all rightand wrongwhile answering some of life's biggest questions. Like, how did Scott end up with two wonderful wives simultaneously? And why can't David manage to keep even one dysfunctional relationship going? It all comes down to love and families and what you believe inand, maybe, forgiveness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Punch will knock you out with its brilliant style, comic dilemmas, and savage wit. Everyone with a less-than-perfect family will relate." Po Bronson, author of Bombardiers: A Novel and What Should I Do With My Life?

"Noah Hawley writes irresistible fiction. I devoured The Punch in three hours flat, stopping only to marvel over the freshness of a phrase or the effortless wit of a line of dialogue." Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Bonk

"Like an American Martin Amis, Noah Hawley expertly rides the line between hilarity and horror and deftly mines his characters' secret longings their shame, hope, and desire. At times the story is so exquisitely uncomfortable you'll put your hands over your eyes, but you'll end up peeking between your fingers because it's so wickedly good." Tom Barbash, author of The Last Good Chance and On Top of the World

"Brotherly love never hurt so good" Kirkus Reviews

"Hawley sucks you in with his vivid, direct writing. His portrait of a dysfunctional family is at once insane, tender and hilarious." People Magazine: StyleWatch

Publishers Weekly

In his third novel, Hawley (Other People's Weddings) traces the path of Scott and David Henry as they prepare for their father's memorial service. Younger brother Scott-stuck in a dead-end job, failing in love and a frequenter of San Francisco strip clubs-is saddled with his alcoholic, self-destructing mother, Doris, on their trip to New York. Scott's successful sales executive and closeted bigamist brother, David, shares Doris duty while navigating memorial service preparations and secretly juggling marriages on both coasts. Along the way, a family secret is revealed, two hotels are nearly blown up and the trio explores what it means to be a family. Unfortunately, Hawley's asides on physics, religion and the nature of time distract from the plot without adding to it, and the occasional dud sentence pops up ("Now they circle their wagons and eye each other warily from the high towers of their castles"). However, the characters-especially Doris-and humorously handled uncomfortable situations (as when David's two wives meet) somewhat mitigate these shortcomings, and the memorial service at the legendary White Horse Tavern provides a rollicking climax. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
The messy realities of life and death intrude on a family's deeply held rationalizations. Hawley (Other People's Weddings, 2004, etc.) creates an unsettling, caustically funny portrait of contradictory siblings at odds with themselves, their lovers and their wildly dysfunctional relatives-imagine the family showdown from a Sam Shepard play infused with the more sophisticated existential crises of Tom Perrotta's novels. The animated preamble opens on Valentine's Day to find David and Scott Henry waiting in the harsh light of an emergency room, one with a broken nose, the other with a broken fist. "Now that you know what happens," Hawley writes with a wink, "it's time to start this story where all good stories should start. In the middle." Scott doesn't believe in the basic decency of human beings, least of all himself with his pathetic job (eavesdropping on customer service calls) and his cheating harpy of a girlfriend. Brother David is the proverbial family man, but he's got a secret. The traveling salesman has and holds dear not one but two families, both with children, one on each coast just to be safe. His anxiety and fears about being discovered are at war with his desire to be free of all his burdensome responsibilities. "You think it's the hardest thing in the world, to change your life, but really it's as easy as falling downhill," Hawley informs us. "All you have to do is let go." The untimely death of their father inspires an ill-advised road trip with their bitter, alcoholic mother. Subsequent misadventures ultimately lead to one man's expression of grief in a strip club, another's unlikely encounter with a higher power and, finally, that world-shattering punch. Hawley'sinterruptive ruminations on the nature of time, storytelling and universal truth occasionally threaten to derail his narrative, but the fractured appeal of these rival siblings runs as deep as their angst. Brotherly love never hurt so good.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811864299
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 5/21/2008
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Noah Hawley is a novelist, screenwriter, and writer for several TV series including Bones. He was raised in New York City, lived in San Francisco, and now resides in Los Angeles.

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