James Nethery is at the end of his rope. Unable to find meaning in his comfortable life, he has cut himself off from everyone and fled to Paris. His mission; to rid himself of a lifetime of baggage, erase the past, and start over. He wanders Paris aimlessly until he meets Lily, a Ukrainian model and hooker. They form a unique bond, and together take the first steps toward writing new stories of their lives. Soon, Lily’s past catches up with her and they are forced to go on the lam in a strange country. Together they must decide between justice and vengeance, and, when forced to take action, between what is too muchand not enough.
This Is What We Do is part neo-noir thriller, part love story, and part cautionary tale of the perils of trying to write a new life from nothingand the stories that will be written for you by others if you find yourself in the public eye.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
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Read an Excerpt
by Lenore Zion
There's this inane thing in the literary zeitgeist now; a sense that writers appear to have been brainwashed into believing that it is their moral responsibility to provide a comfortable, inclusive reading experience to any and all who open their books. This expectation that a novel should generate the sensation of being rocked to sleep by some sort of anesthetizing mother figure, singing you a soft lullaby, the lyrics of which are designed to personally flatter and validate as your protective mother figure shields you from facing the abrasive ghosts of reality that howl at the door.
Usually I am able to ignore this silliness, as it doesn't affect me personally in any significant way, and really, when something over which you have no control is irritating to you, you're an irresponsible asshole to keep staring at it until you become upset. But Tom Hansen's This Is What We Do contrasts so gloriously with this embarrassing trend in literature that it's impossible for me not to make a point of it.
It is fitting that Tom Hansen's female protagonist, Lily, is harshly Ukrainian. She was a model, and now she's a sex-workerand you won't catch her crying about it, because Lily was never under the impression that this outcome wasn't the most likely scenario. The way Lily sees it, her physical beauty has always been her most easily exploited asset. She's not thrilled by this, but she's not so stupid that she won't use to her advantage a lucky characteristic that can effectively be employed as a cash machine.
Lily is my favorite example of what I find so exciting about Hansen's writing. She is, at once, a walking manifestation of the type of supernatural beauty standards by which less genetically blessed women feel crushed, and the aggressive reality of existing inside such a coveted female form. It's this eye for the contradictory nature of reality in Hansen's writing that engenders that low rumble of psychological discordance that I find appealing in a book. With this, Hansen offers a bona-fide, complex emotional reaction, delivered subtly through the reflection of an honest and unflattering piece of the human experience.
Hansen was very thoughtful and purposeful when he designed his characters, but he successfully avoided the narcissistic temptation of falling in love with his own creations. As is true of any meaningful relationship in real life, Hansen hates his characters as much as he loves them. The consequence of this decision is that his readers now also must struggle with their own complicated feelings toward Hansen's charactersbut, from a writer to a reader, this is a gift. Rather than cushion us in a warm, fatty womb with easily-understood characters in an easily understood world, Hansen has given us the permission and the freedom to love, hate, and hate-love his characters, for whatever reasons are real to us. In assuming his readers can handle the brutal image of the world he writes for us, he offers us what so many writers now rob us of: respect.