This Book Will Save Your Life

This Book Will Save Your Life

by A. M. Homes, Scott Brick

From the author of Music for Torching-an uplifting and apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles about one man's efforts to bring himself back to life

Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her

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From the author of Music for Torching-an uplifting and apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles about one man's efforts to bring himself back to life

Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.

Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorc� trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one-except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn't even notice until two incidents-an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room, and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house-conspire to hurl him back into the world. On his way home from the hospital, Richard forms the first of many new relationships: He meets Anhil, the doughnut shop owner, an immigrant who dreams big. He finds a weeping housewife in the produce section of the supermarket, helps save a horse that has fallen into the sinkhole, daringly rescues a woman from the trunk of her kidnapper's car, and, after the sinkhole claims his house and he has to relocate to a Malibu rental, he befriends a reluctant counterculture icon. In the end, Richard is also brought back in closer touch with his family-his aging parents, his brilliant brother, the beloved ex-wife whom he still desires, and finally, before the story's breathtaking finale, with his estranged son Ben.

The promised landof Los Angeles-a surreal city of earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and feral Chihuahuas-is also very much a character in This Book Will Save Your Life. A vivid, revealing novel about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you, it should significantly broaden Homes's already substantial audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
As Richard Novak is perfecting a life of isolation, a series of bizarre and surreal events force him to reassess his position and reconnect with the world around him. Upon emerging, he is bombarded with a cast of eccentric characters, including an unappreciated soccer mom, a reclusive writer and a jovial doughnut-shop owner. Throughout this darkly humorous audio, Scott Brick supplies excellent tone and subtlety, easily seducing his audience with the opening scene between Novak and a 911 operator. The contrast between the two highlights Brick's ability and range. While his vocal depictions of characters match up and remain consistent, Brick almost falters with the Novak. For the most part, Brick keeps Novak steady but occasionally delivers a speaking voice that doesn't fit the profile range delivered previously. While his uniformity on Novak wavers, his projection of the anxiety and agitation that plague Novak's life cannot be understated. This book probably won't save your life, but it's likely to make you laugh and ponder your own connection with the world. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 23). (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Richard Novak's day-trading fortune has given him the good life in the hills above 21st-century Los Angeles, but a heart-attack scare exposes his isolation, and a rapidly expanding sinkhole in his front yard forces him to move to a Malibu rental. These crises throw Richard into the paths of such diverse characters as a donut shop owner, a runaway housewife, and a reclusive, iconic author. His eventual return to humanity culminates in a confrontational and emotional visit with teenage son Ben, and a feral chihuahua attack on his ex-wife brings them all to a greater understanding and acceptance of one another. Harrison Ford and ex-president Gerald Ford appear in one of the book's weaker scenes that stops just shy of contrived silliness, but, overall, this is an engaging and timely tale told with a balanced mix of dark humor and sympathy for individuals enduring the foibles of everyday living. Devoted fans of Homes (Music for Torching) might miss her edgier and more provocative works, and new readers may be shaken by the comically apocalyptic ending of Richard's midlife crisis. Nevertheless, this is recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]-Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The hero of Homes's latest novel (after Music for Torching, 1999)-a work of guarded but very real optimism and, ultimately, of redemption-is Richard Novak, a California-style Scrooge. Richard is a friendless, divorced Los Angeles investor who has so single-mindedly worked to create extravagant wealth that he has become estranged from mankind. For Richard, the wake-up call is not a minatory ghost but a pain that bends him double and sends him to the ER, where he realizes there is no one he can call who would really care. The novel charts Richard's gradual reawakening to the needs of others and the pleasure of their company. With the innocence of a newborn, he befriends the Middle Eastern owner of a donut shop; a woman weeping in the produce aisle of a supermarket (whom he treats to a week of spa treatments); and his next-door neighbor. Having warmed up to strangers, Richard struggles to re-establish contact first with his younger brother, a scientist living in Boston, and then with his sharp-tongued ex-wife and his teenaged son. Narratives about the very wealthy often have a glow of limitless possibility that verges on enchantment, and here, when Richard's house is menaced by an encroaching sinkhole, he lifts his de Kooning off the wall and rents an all-white house in Malibu. Not only are the cast-iron frying pans white-enameled, the sexual harness mounted in the guestroom ceiling is all white, too. That close to L.A., such loony details are plausible enough, but Homes occasionally skitters into realms so odd that the hypnotic spell of her narrative is broken. Could anyone believe that firefighters, battling the blaze that destroys the Malibu rental, had seen "the infamous mystery cat-alarge animal some believe maybe be the sole surviving saber-toothed cat" among the flames? Deeper satisfaction derives from her characters' sudden insights, as when Richard imagines that if he calls out, his brother will come to comfort him. There is a whole lifetime of change in that simple moment of understanding that indicates how far Richard has traveled toward redemption. An extremely likable book.

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Product Details

Sound Library
Publication date:
Sound Library
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.16(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.54(d)

Meet the Author

A. M. Homes is the author of Things You Should Know, Music forTorching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, The Safety of Objects, and Jack, and Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill. Recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, she is a Vanity Fair contributing editor and publishes in The New Yorker, Granta, Harper's, McSweeney's, Artforum, and The New York Times.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 18, 1961
Place of Birth:
Washington, D.C.
B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa Writers¿ Workshop

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