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The American Book of the Dead [Kindle Edition]

Henry Baum
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Eugene Myers is working on a novel about the end of the world. Meanwhile, he discovers his daughter doing porn online and his marriage is coming to an end. When he begins dreaming about people who turn out to be real, he wonders if his novel is real as well. Which isn’t good news: the radical and demented President Winchell is bent on bringing about worldwide destruction. Eugene Myers may just be the one to stop the apocalypse.

In the tradition of Philip K. Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, The American Book of the Dead explores the nature of reality and the human race’s potential to either disintegrate or evolve.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"If you read Lolita or A Clockwork Orange without drop-kicking the book out into the garden on a rainy day, this novel is for you." Tessa Dick, author of The Owl in Daylight, and widow of Philip K. Dick

"Reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." Largehearted Boy

"Really great - reminds me of Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut." Scott Booker, Manager of the Flaming Lips

Winner: Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival

Winner: The Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction

Product Details

  • File Size: 3739 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Backword Books (December 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VBWDVU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,116 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
(42)
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper and Richer than the Tags Imply February 15, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Novels tagged as apocalyptic sci-fi are usually not my bag, but I gave this one a chance and I'm glad I did. Part apocalyptic sci-fi and part psychological thriller with elements of more accessible literary novels and even neo-noir, this is a deep story that transcends genres. It feels like others' books, with influences ranging from Pynchon to Delillo to Philip K. Dick and more, but it also felt original -- always a good sign.

It started a little slow for me, as Baum has a lot to set up, but then it really took off as the end of society as we know it looms and chapters alternate between the wary hero, writer Eugene Myers, and a childish and deluded American president, Charles Winchell. Without giving too much away, both men believe -- and fear -- they are transforming into a new type of human that the post-apocalyptic future will depend on. Who wins out (or do they?) will tell the reader a lot about where we might be heading. As a line in the book states (I'm paraphrasing), the best sci-fi takes present themes and exaggerates them almost beyond recognition. I know they got me thinking. Baum also manages to avoid getting hung up on religion and politics, choosing to focus on the human nature that binds us all. The revolution is not just societal but evolutional.

My complaints are few. Some narrative and even dialogue had to be expositional in spots owing to the wide-reaching story and context, but Baum does well to blend it all in. The story could've begun closer to the world war that engulfs the planet and wouldn't have suffered too much. But that's more niggling than it sounds. The quality was there in the beginning to carry us along.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vonnegut-like, Meta, Bizarre Apocalyptic Tale April 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I feel like I owe Henry Baum, the author of The American Book of the Dead, a sincere apology. You see, he contacted me early last year about his book, thinking that it might be something that I would enjoy. I agreed to review the book, but told him that our first child was due soon and that it might be a while before I got to the book. Undeterred, he went on and mailed me a signed copy, scribbling a note on a card wishing me the best of luck with my soon-to-be daughter and that there was "no rush." Then Avonlea came and my reading life was hit.

Finally, at the end of March, I picked up Mr. Baum's book. I vaguely remembered that the book was some sort of apocalyptic tale about a struggling author and some strange happenings. As long as it took me to start the book, had I known that I would finish it so quickly I would have started much sooner. (It's an easy enough read to finish in a long afternoon sitting, if you're so inclined, as the book weighs in at just shy of 250 pages.)

It is difficult to describe The American Book of the Dead. The first word I think of is "Meta." Then maybe "weird." It's really impossible to classify it as a single genre, as it touches on almost everything. It's post-apocalyptic, pre-apocalyptic, apocalyptic, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, suspense, religious, satire, and a host of other things. It reminded me a lot of Kurt Vonnegut, though maybe not as deep, nor as funny. A blurb on the book says it's very much like Philip K. Dick, too, though I've not read any of his stuff, so I cannot attest to that.

Eugene Myers is a struggling writer in his 50s. He's making do by teaching a class at a local college. He's bored and depressed and his wife doesn't really love him and he doesn't necessarily love her back.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, would recommend it to anyone. May 27, 2011
Format:Paperback
I have no idea how the author of this book could have remained sane. Perhaps he didn't. This is one of the most complex books I've read - yet is remarkably easy to understand. I don't know how it does it. Somehow it tricks your brain into thinking without you realizing or something. It's a book about a writer who writes a book that he's already written which is the book that you'd be reading if you read this book. Try not to think about that too much. It's basically a summary of the introduction - which I found confusing until I'd read the rest of the book.

But IT IS definitely worth a read. Chances are you won't have read anything like it before (If anyone has, let me know), and it's an interesting experience. It's a pretty unique book - lots of people have tried and failed to classify it. I have no idea what genre it. I'm saying Sci-fi because it kind of is, but I'm also putting it on the general fiction blog. But whatever genre it is, I think it would appeal to anyone interested in books about any one of: apocalypse, religion, dreams, psychics, politics or humanity - amongst many more.

Now I'm actually interested in all of them except psychics, but it's the last one that really made this book for me. OK, so the introduction makes little sense until you finish the book. But the first chapter, one of my favourites, really appealed to me because it was honest. The character has feelings he shouldn't have, dreams he's embarrassed about, and a daughter that's better at logic than him. It seems to me that this character is the essence of humanity. He's realistic, and he doesn't try to hide it.

The religion, the politics, the apocalypse. All of it is interesting, but it was this reflection of humanity in the novel is what really makes it stand out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars it's not a favorite for me
Interesting book, it's not a favorite for me, but I definitely liked it - a different spin on the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction I am used to, milder maybe...
Published 7 months ago by karmyth
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Wow, thanks for writing this book. There were a few statements in there that were just so well said that it bordered on the profound. The story line was a very unique idea! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
The writing Kept my interest. I read it last year, yet I still ponder the message of the book. I strongly recommend reading.
Published 14 months ago by PaulinTX
3.0 out of 5 stars Troubling and Interesting
Not the world's best read but a great premise about evolution and quantum physics. I'm glad the writer is working on a continuation of the story. Read more
Published on May 21, 2013 by S. V. Leer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept.
Loved the time horizon folding concept. However, the gathering of dreamers was somewhat tedious. Loved the intro then wandered around until the climax which was satisfying.
Published on March 6, 2013 by Douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Could not book the book down. Another end of the world type of books. Would recommend to anyone. Would like to read more from this author.
Published on December 10, 2012 by Kjs
2.0 out of 5 stars very confusing book
This book really is confusing and not well written. the begneing of this book is so convulted that i just had to stop reading it
Published on October 24, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars How fast I read is a thing...
I mean, a good book is one thing. I got through the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a fair bit of time. That's some dense writing, a lot of exposition, description, elaboration. Read more
Published on October 23, 2012 by M. Rowland
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm Confused.
It's a book about writing a book about the past, or is it the present, or is it the future. I can't tell. It's hard to read and hard to understand. Read more
Published on October 21, 2012 by Paul N
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
It was at least an interesting concept. Until I got to the end. It had a lot of build up with the main bad guy and it was an extremely anticlimactic finish. Read more
Published on October 9, 2012 by Zealous
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More About the Author

Henry Baum is the author of the novels The Golden Calf, North of Sunset, and The American Book of the Dead. He's published work with Identity Theory, Storyglossia, Scarecrow, Dogmatika, Purple Prose, 3:AM, Les Episodes, and others. He also writes and records music under the name Ash Tree. Born in New York City, raised in L.A., with stints in many other places, he now lives in Los Angeles with his wife.

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