Posted 20 hours ago

This Book Will Save Your Life

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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. The novel charts Richard's gradual reawakening to the needs of others and the pleasure of their company.

We need a few things, old socks—to use as earplugs for the horse—and something to use as a blindfold," the movie star says over his head-set.

Novak removes his “noise-canceling earphones” that have kept the world at bay, committed to becoming a new man and to interacting with life and whatever it may bring. As he grapples with the haphazard foundations of his personal life, a sinkhole grows ever larger on his lawn, threatening his home and spurring him into action. AM Homes's very funny and engaging novel, This Book Will Save Your Life, plugs into the same energy.

We need to get back to what are in some ways more primitive, more successful concepts of family, which include the extended family and a commitment to one’s role and place in their surrounding community. This Book Will Save Your Life begins with Richard Novak, a wealthy Los Angeleno, having a health scare that sends him to the emergency room. There is a whole lifetime of change in that simple moment of understanding that indicates how far Richard has traveled toward redemption.And so he spent three years traveling through a country that’s lost its sense of safety, equipping himself with the tools necessary to save himself and his loved ones from an uncertain future. He hasn't touched a doughnut in years because the nutritionist told him that it will give him a heart attack but now he feels ready to try one. I’ve been interested in the ongoing and endless struggle between a person’s public persona and who they are at home, the idea that we can’t be in public who we are in private.

Richard goes outside, stands with his feet on the edge of the hole—it is definitely deeper than it was two hours ago. But if you read it, you will learn a few things: That it’s never too late to try again, relationships can be mended, pain can be felt and endured, that the world is full of wonderful people and wonderful experiences if only you open yourself up to the possibilities. Richard’s ex-wife remains a touch point throughout the novel, sharing snippets of advice before hastily fleeing back to her work.

He encounters a host of amusing and lovable characters who figure, in varying degrees, to his finding a new way to be. I just have to mention the blurb on the back from blurbwhore Stephen King, one of the most farcical blurbs I have ever read: "I think this brave story of a lost man's reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22 or The Catcher in the Rye. Is there some kind of parallel between this boy and the abandoned children of the weeping woman from the produce section?

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