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Love and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel Paperback – February 14, 2006

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Weird, in a good way, defines the spirited amalgam of madcap romanticism, mordant spirituality and oddball adventure that infuses British writer Millington's third novel (A Certain Chemistry; Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About). Rob Garland's life is decidedly unsettled. He's dithering about his upcoming nuptials. He's bored at the radio station where he hosts a late-night jazz show. And by all odds he ought to be dead, except that a quick errand, coupled with an infuriating traffic tie-up, makes him late for lunch with a musician—who is among those immolated when a tanker truck plows into the restaurant. After Garland forsakes his playlist one night to rant about his near-death experience, he finds himself at the center of a circle of like survivors, including a brawny American soldier who escaped death in war-torn Bosnia and an addled British schoolteacher who left her Bulgarian hotel in search of cigarettes and returned to find it in flames. There are times when this off-in-all-directions novel explodes into the edgily surreal, and its intense Britishness may confound some readers. But the audacious originality of Millington's witty plot and the energy of his crisp, comic dialogue are wholly engaging.
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From Booklist

Rob Garland, an engaged thirtysomething DJ for a late-night jazz show, is paralyzed by indecision. He can make the big life choices, but he can't decide which fork to wash first or whether to shower or bathe. Here's the problem--a couple months back, Rob would have died in a tragic oil tanker-related pub explosion, except he happened to hit a traffic jam. Overwhelmed by the potentially calamitous consequences of his every action, he soon breaks down and starts discussing his problem with his tiny radio audience. And that's when the fun starts. Through the show, Rob meets a burly young American veteran, and the two soon embark on a madcap quest for the meaning of life. Along the way, they meet a suicidal literature buff and an ubermystical psychic, who warns them that evangelical Christians are out to kill Rob to preserve predestination. Excellent dialogue, great pacing, and strong characterizations pull the novel through its periodic implausibility. This could have been just another Bridget Jones for boys, but it's as memorable as it is heartwarming and as deep as it is fun. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (February 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812973488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812973488
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Chris Cardinal on February 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've (nearly) finished "Love and..." and while that may lead you to think I'm summarily unqualified to up and "review" the book, having not even completed it, I'd say that it's the journey that counts and not so much the destination and the journey insofar has been absolutely brilliant.

Keeping true to Mil Millington's own personal sense of utter irreverence, skittishness and vaguely esoteric mile-long jokes, Love expresses itself as wholly unique, smart and well executed.

The main character is a bit of a nutcase, but that's fantastic. He agonizes over every smallish decision, from which pen to use to (I'd assume) how many sheets of toilet paper to soil, worried that one course of action over the next might cause him to get hit by a bus. Nevermind the inherent problem with someone who thinks so cyclically as this, (what if he were to be "bussed" while agonizing over such a decision, et cetera) he proceeds on a "quest" to find himself, and straighten himself out since a near-death experience that should have had him killed spared him after a seemingly simple, mindless choice earlier in the day.

The mere fact that Mil isn't writing just another "Things My Girlfriend..." or even another "A Certain Chemistry" shows his versatility, and perhaps his openness to merely career-crushing, devastatingly short-sighted risk. It also allows his true talent to pour out.

Think: If this were another 300 pages of things he's argued about, perhaps set in a slightly different setting, with a slightly longer-haired Ursula redux, how tiresome that would be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I came across Mil Millington through the praise lauded on him by author Christopher Moore on his personal website. Like Moore, Millington does what few writers are able to do; put humor into literature. Though lesser known because he is from across the pond, Millington has the potential to find an audience in the States.

The story finds Rob Garland, an indecisive 31 year old man, living with the reality of a near death experience. Fronting the graveyard shift of a jazz radio show, Rob spills his emotions on the air one night. This unites a cast of crazies that have shared similar experiences to Rob's experience on a quest without direction. Battling seemingly irrational bodily desires, the dreaded "fundos", and reconciling a mundane relationship, while mocking a sizable portion of the landscape of English literature, Millington's wit has a sharp point that rarely misses the mark on the first stab. But seeming to know he may have some misses, many quirks are replayed overexposing the joke.

I feel the need to give a word of caution to non-British readers. Millington is decidedly English in his writing. Thus, many Americans may not know what he is talking about or calling certain people. I do not suspect this would keep American readers from enjoying the book, but the internet provides word translation sites at no cost.

Most readers will see the twists in the plot coming before they happen. Yet if you purchase this book, it is unlikely you are hoping to be dazzled by the plot. To be blunt, the book is funny. It does not measure up to the work of Christopher Moore, but that is a difficult standard to meet. But in a niche of the industry where there is room for diversity and new talent, Mil Millington has made a name for himself.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved Millington's first two novels, and I have to say this is a bit of a step down in quality. The razzle-dazzle writing, featuring snappy one-liners and hilarious repartee is all there, however, the framework just isn't quite as good and is unfortunately coincidentally similar to Nick Hornby's last book, A Long Way Down. The protagonist is Rob Garland (a name also a little too close to High Fidelity's Rob Fleming), a 30ish late night jazz DJ who's having problems getting psyched up about his impending wedding (elements which also bring to mind High Fidelity's Rob). It seems that two months ago, he cheated death by being late to an appointment in a building where an accident killed all inside. Since then he falls into paralyzing bouts of indecision, based on the premise that one's life can turn on the most inconsequential of acts.

When his fiancee sits him down and tells him he must cure himself before they get married, he takes the plunge and goes on an quest to sort himself out (again, rather like High Fidelity's Rob). This rather aimless quest involves him teaming up with others who have cheated death. First he meets a young American soldier who wasn't blown up with some buddies in Bosnia, and now appoints himself Rob's facilitator. Next is an the world's most acerbic woman, a suicidaly depressed English teacher in her late 40s who stepped out to get smokes while her Bulgarian hotel burned down in the middle of the night. Finally, there is a beautiful Welsh Wiccan woman who warns Rob about an evangelical Christian sect who is targeting those who've undone God's will by cheating death. The dynamics of this quartet of exceedingly different people is unfortunately similar to A Long Way Down, although Millington writes in a much more laugh-out-loud-funny style.
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