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The American Book of the Dead Paperback – November 22, 2011

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Backword Books (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0578026937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578026930
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,385,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Steve Anderson on 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 By Logan Stewart on 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 By Adam Bourke on 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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