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Busy Monsters: A Novel Paperback – August 6, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039334293X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393342932
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Comedy, satire, farce, language. . . . [A] release from the familiar and banal . . . has the kind of agenda that gives heft to the picaresque novels from which it is derived.” (New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice)

“Wonderful. . . . Singular and arresting . . . filled with quirky turns of phrase, unexpected literary and cultural allusions, self-aware asides, and highfalutin word choices that would make Roget swell with pride.” (Salon)

“Starred Review. [A] riotous debut novel.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Starred Review. A brilliant first novel that may well be in the running for 2011 literary awards.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

William Giraldi is the author of the critically hailed Busy Monsters and fiction editor for the journal AGNI at Boston University. He lives in Boston with his wife and sons.

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Customer Reviews

It's the funniest book I ever read!
Martha Schwope
This sort of thing can be quite funny in a 20-page story or a half-hour comedy skit,but it's not the stuff of which novels are made.
Tully
I found the narration to be hilarious, satirical, and just plain fun.
Max Andrew Dubinsky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tully on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First, let me state that William Giraldi is a talented writer. He has great wit, he says funny things, writes loopy, often hilarious dialogue and, yes, you will probably laugh out loud more than once. There are clever, nicely done comic scenes here as well -- the scene in which the narrator's local priest encourages him to kill the narrator's rival because this will reduce the number of the world's atheists is very funny. As is Groot, the narrator's would-be mentor and sometime government assassin.

But there is no novel here. Most of BUSY MONSTERS is simply over-the-top, self-consciously zany nonsense. Hardly any of the characters are recognizable as actual human beings. Giraldi is simply not grounded here. There is no reality to this book. His tale goes from one ridiculous situation to another, filled with cardboard cutouts instead of people. This sort of thing can be quite funny in a 20-page story or a half-hour comedy skit,but it's not the stuff of which novels are made.

Also, the narrator's obsession with the physical charms of his missing lover is really juvenile. The last time I encountered anyone drooling to this degree over a female's body parts I was sixteen. Some of this is really hard to take.

The best comedy is grounded in reality. If I thought Giraldi was a talentless hack, I wouldn't be writing this review. But he's a talented man, an editor and writer of stories and essays, and he should know better. I hope he has gotten this low-grade comic stuff out of his system. I will check out his next book to see.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Steele on July 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This won't be a negative review, but I must confess that I started Busy Monsters last year and, one chapter into it, set it aside until this month. The writing tried so hard to be clever (for lack of a better word) that it made reading it an ordeal. Upon opening it again, I felt compelled to push through, and I'm thrilled that I did, because I found the story more engaging and the writing more entertaining than I had given it credit for the first time. I think what bothered me at first was my disconnect with the nature of the story; when I realized that I was actually reading Charles Homar's magazine pieces, the style made more sense. And, when I realized that Homar could easily be (and probably was) an unreliable narrator, the style fit even more. This definitely isn't a novel for everyone, and I agree with the reviewers here that noted it often felt like one episode after another with a shiny new quirky character, but I must say that Giraldi produces some of the most original figurative language I have read, frequently leading me to pause, think about the comparison or allusion, and then smile. Busy Monsters definitely has flaws, but the overall product is an entertaining and original work I am glad I gave a second chance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spicejar on November 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the oddest or weirdest book I have read in years. It was kinda boring and very long but at the same time I kept reading it and wondering why. Others have already discussed the illusion to Homer so I will not be redundant. This is not really funny. Each chapter is devoted to one exploit. There's a UFO con artist, a Bigfoot hunter, and many other oddities. The language is convoluted and the sentences unnecessarily complex with rarely used words or even a few made up by the author. He is not correct several times. He mentions being so faint it made him dizzy but it is the other way around, you are so dizzy, you feel faint. he mentions the cerebellum when he means the cerebral cortex, or cerebrum. The cerebellum has to do with gait and balance along with fine motor movements such as rapid finger and hand movements.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jody TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm neither smart nor sophisticated enough to appreciate Mr. Giraldi. Neither is my porcine beau, when I've roused him from the couch enough to ask.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Geezer on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Of the 9 hysterically positive 5 star reviews, 7 are by first time reviewers. I don't know if that means anything, but it makes me suspicious. I wonder if this book had an editor. The author, or his character, seems to think that cerebellum means "brain," gluteus means "buttock," and that a squid is a fish. Trying too hard to be clever. Giraldi is undoubtedly talented and I will probably give his next a chance.
For language used with nimbleness and flair by another first time novelist, I recommend Benjamin Hale's The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Richardson on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. Most sentences were amazingly inventive and often funny. It is a matter of taste and if you don't love the language or find it amusing then there is not much else to keep you reading. The plot and the characters are okay but all seen through the crazy hero's point of view.
You'll like this book if you like the writing. Any quick sample will be enough to decide. I loved the style and the humor.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Buffalo Hill on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I started this book in high spirits, 25 minutes ago. A picaresque tale full of oddballs is just what I like to read. I got about 11 pages in. In fact, my intention after the first page was to make a list of all the unconscionably bad writing in the book, like a scrapbook of literary failure, and send it to whoever pays William Giraldi's heating bills. Bad writing notwithstanding, the saddest failure of the (first 11 pages) of this book is that no one, not Giraldi's agent, his editor, his students, his wife, his kids or his parents, ever bothered to tell him that he wasn't funny. I'm not a cruel person. I'll even regret writing this review in less time than I devoted to this excruciatingly unfunny book. But I would suggest that next time Giraldi broaches a comic novel to any of the above they hold his head under cold water at intervals for twenty-five minutes, and then tweeze his nostril hairs with a weedwacker. If he still persists in writing again, he should be sent to the island of Tokelau, where there is no Internet or any writing implements of any kind. There he should be made to sit under a palm tree for a decade, in the withering heat, contemplating his literary sins.
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