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Chum: A Novel Paperback – September 18, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tyrus Books; First Edition edition (September 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440570043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440570049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,472,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mary and Bickerman have always been at the center of their social circle, a rowdy group happy to share postcollegiate, booze-fueled shenanigans. Holidays are punctuated by raucous parties, drunken confessions, tears, fights, and uneasy sleep. Through the fog of alcohol and shared memories, loyalties are tested, allegiances are broken, new friendships are cemented, and a grisly secret is shared. While Mary and Bickerman’s marriage is nothing to emulate, the novel’s deeply flawed characters are surprisingly relatable. From the frequently misunderstood Tom to the preternaturally gorgeous Miriam, readers will see pieces of themselves, significant others, close friends, or fellow drinking buddies in the diverse crew. Highlighting the tension often found in even close-knit groups, Somers uses different members of the social circle to narrate shared events and private monologues. As the reader gains perspective on the nonlinear story, shocking secrets soon come to light. Combining elements of Jonathan Tropper, Tom Perrotta, and Augusten Burroughs, Somers’ incisive, pull-no-punches examination of adult friendship is refreshingly witty. Tautly paced and expertly assembled, Chum is a darkly comic, deeply insightful, and wildly original novel. --Stephanie Turza

Review

"Combining elements of Jonathan Tropper, Tom Perrotta, and Augusten Burroughs, Somers' incisive, pull-no-punches examination of adult friendship is refreshingly witty. Tautly paced and expertly assembled, Chum is a darkly comic, deeply insightful, and wildly original novel." --Booklist

"I liked this book before I started to really know the characters. I think this book does a good job of showing how friendships can progress and regress... I liked the idea of different narrators who allowed us to see their unique perspectives." --Beauty and the Book Blog

"With friends like these who needs enemies... To the extent that they represent a segment of American society, the novel is a significant critique of that segment, a critique bound carefully in a truly compelling story." --Blogcritics.org

"In this dazzling new novel, readers will believe they are on quite a different course than what this mystery will eventually reveal.... Jeff Somers carries it off brilliantly.... A very worthwhile read and comes highly recommended." --Reviewing the Evidence


More About the Author

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a child he imagined he would be a brain surgeon, until a spirit-crushing experience convinced him that in order to be a brain surgeon he would have to actually attend school, work hard, and master basic mathematics. After a severe head trauma, he chose instead to write stories and learn the high art of cocktail mixing, and spent the next twenty years in a pleasant haze of fiction and booze.

After graduating college, Jeff drove cross-country and wandered aimlessly for a while, but the peculiar siren call of New Jersey (a delicious mixture of chromium, cut grass, and indolence) brought him back to his homeland, where he got a job as an Editorial Assistant at a medical/science publisher in New York City. Most experts agree that this is likely where the young man went insane.

In 1995 Jeff began publishing his own magazine, The Inner Swine (www.innerswine.com). His first novel "Lifers" was published in 2001, the Avery Cates series, beginning with The Electric Church, was published by Orbit Books from 2007-2011, and in 2013 published Trickster from Pocket Books with a sequel to follow. He's also had stories published in many magazines, most of which regret the connection. His story "Ringing the Changes" was chosen for "Best American Mystery Stories 2006" and his story "sift, almost invisible, through" appeared in "Crimes by Moonlight" edited by Charlaine Harris in 2010.

He currently lives in Hoboken, NJ, with his lovely wife Danette and their plump, imperious cats Pierre, Oliver, Spartacus, Otto, and Coco. Jeff insists the cats would be delicious.

In-between all this and writing too, Jeff plays chess and staves off despair with cocktails.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patty Blount on October 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm a huge Jeff Somers fan. His Avery Cates series left me sweaty and breathless and dreaming about a dirty, toothless assassin. His urban fantasy, Trickster, had me ready to open a vein. When I read Chum, I was left feeling a whole jumble of emotions - at the top of the list? Awe. Nobody makes me want to know what makes unlikeable characters tick the way Jeff does. I'm a writer myself and trust me on this, Jeff's deft handling of characters who are anything but nice is pure magic.

Chum opens with a wedding - typically a happy occasion, right? Not so for these characters. The bride is on her last nerve, the groom is checking the guest list for a divorce lawyer, the bridesmaid can't keep her hands off anything with a Y chromosome and the groomsmen are making bets on how long the marriage will last. This is not a happy group. This isn't even a particularly nice group. Jeff's writing is like some kind of drug, enticing me to read more.

Think about the reasons you pick up a book. For me, it's because I want to escape real life for a little while or maybe sink into a happy ending. Reading about dysfunctional false friends isn't fun - but it's something - a mix of introspection and unanswerable questions and squirmy discomfort and maybe even a touch of schadenfreude. This is Jeff's genius and someday, when I figure out how he does it, I will retire on the royalties from the Someresque novels I will write in homage.

At the wedding, we meet bride and groom Mary and Bick. There's Mary's sister, the slutty Miriam. Her friends, Denise, Kelly, and Flo. Then, we have the guys. Tommy, Hank, Mike, and Luis. Some of the connections date back to childhood, others to college, and others - who knows?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zachary A. Surprenant on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jeff Somers caught my eye with his first Avery Cates series. Now I buy anything he writes (and you should too), which is probably great for his alcohol problem. Buy it, he is one of the few authors these days that you can trust will tell you a great story, with or without guns.

Zac - real person.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Meadors on September 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
This dark look at a circle of friends with a mystery in the center may not be to everyone's taste, but I found it fascinating to read. The timeline of the story is different--things don't happen sequentially, rather, you see them as they need to be seen. Also, each chapter is from another character's POV. Once i got the hang of it I didn't find that this took me out of the story at all. Each character has a distinctive voice, and I was able to tell pretty much right away whose head we were in.

Once again, Somers proves he is a master at showing a rather, um, contemptible character (there might be a few in this book ;)) and keeping the reader completely engaged in this person, reading on to find out what exactly this person could do next. I love that no one had to be "redeemed" in this book. The people are who they are, and that is what makes the book so engrossing. Anything else would have felt cheap. At the end, things are open, but that's OK. I left it feeling like life went on in its own messed up way, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything or that there were loose ends.

Those who enjoyed Somers's speculative fiction should enjoy this as well--it still has that distinct Jeff Somers flavor (for those of you that are into that stuff ;)). I enjoyed reading something different and seeing what a versatile author Somers is.
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Format: Paperback
I struggled to get through this book. I don't mind narrations by different characters usually but just did not enjoy this one as much. Did not appreciate the stereotypical depictions of women, the language (I am not easily offended) or the behaviors. This is the first book by this author that I have read but to me, it is a story written by a drunk and nicotine addict. Just did not like.
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By elizabeth norris on January 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was fabulous. The writing is superb and the characters are all unique and interested. It reminded me of a modern day Gatsby.
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