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Lunatics Hardcover – January 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

How do two humorists effectively collaborate on a novel? By each writing the narrative for his character, alternating the perspectives in an insane adventure. Phillip Horkman is a by-the-rules kind of guy, a pet-store owner and soccer referee. Jeffrey Peckerman is a profane forensic plumber who thinks the world is populated with jerks, with the exception of himself. The New Jersey suburban dads collide when Horkman disqualifies what would have been a game-winning score made by Peckerman’s daughter. The two embark on escalating violence that takes them on a wild car chase that gets viewed as a possible terrorist threat by the police. On the run, they travel by cruise ship, submarine, helicopter, freighter, and airplane to Cuba, Somalia, China, and the Middle East, wreaking havoc and inadvertently checking off a lot of items on the U.S. geopolitical to-do list along the way. Barry, humor columnist for the Miami Herald, and Zweibel, award-winning comedy writer originally with Saturday Night Live, are more than effective in this collaboration, although the gag of two lunatics on the run sometimes wears a bit thin. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist Barry and Emmy, Thurber, and Tony Award winner Zweibel bring plenty of star power to a comic novel that will be supported by a national print and electronic advertising campaign. --Vanessa Bush


“The aptly titled Lunatics delivers exactly what one would expect from two award-winning humorists: an outrageously funny, irreverent, over-the-top comic mystery. How funny is Lunatics? It’s the sort of book that inspires snorts, may make you spit out your soda and burst into hysterical laughter in public.”—The Miami Herald

“A screwball comedy of errors and a rare political satire. Barry and Zweibel bring us what we need: comic relief.”—The Boston Globe

“Creative, unusual and over the top. The outlandish scenarios are certainly entertaining, and as bizarre as their adventures are, there’s a strange sense of believability to the story. That helps keep the story fresh and the pages turning.”—Associated Press

“A novel who those who love one-liners, outrageous characters and loopy plots. An antidote, if one is needed, to gritty urban realism.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Putting Barry and Zweibel in close proximity is sort of like juggling torches while walking a wire over a vat of kerosene; sooner or later, there’s gonna be a big, big bang. A rocket-fueled romp whose pages practically turn themselves.”—BookPage

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158698
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry "the funniest man in America." But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn't much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm always suspicious when people offer variations on "I couldn't put this book down," but in small doses it's often true. I picked up Lunatics late one night, after spending several hours finishing another book I'd been trying to get through for days. I expected to read a couple pages, just enough to get a flavor of it and have a head start for the following day. But each chapter led so easily into the next, and I was having so much fun, that I read eighty pages before I was finally too tired to go on. The next evening I tore through the remaining 240 pages in a few hours. Really, it's no surprise: Lunatics is a wild, frivolous novel, a rollicking adults-only ramble that practically demands to be sped through.

Philip Horkman is a nice guy: sensitive, thoughtful, reasonable, mild-mannered, maybe a little passive-aggressive. The type who says "pardon my language" before using the phrase "kick the bucket." Jeffrey Peckerman is a jerk: blunt, aggressive, bigoted, thoughtless, foul-mouthed. The type who says things I can't quote in this review without thoroughly censoring them. One day, Philip, who referees kids' soccer, rules Jeffrey's daughter was offside, making her tying goal in the championship game ineligible. There's a shouting match, but it all might have ended there, except that the next day Jeffrey's wife asks him to pick up some wine for her book club, and he stops at a business called The Wine Shop. But The Wine Shop is actually a pet shop (don't ask), and Philip is the owner. Their second meeting ends with a kidnapped lemur, which soon steals an insulin pump, and the effort to restore each to its rightful owner results in a high-speed car chase. Then the NYPD mistakes the insulin pump for a bomb... and that's where things ~really~ get complicated.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's been a long while since I've read anything as unapologetically and wonderfully silly as "Lunatics." The collaboration of Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel certainly plays as a game of one-upmanship with plot points of this comic misadventure escalating beyond all reason and rationale. Hyperactive and unrelenting, this swift and enjoyable read is not meant to be taken with any degree of seriousness. It is simply and purely outlandish nonsense, and as such, it is wildly successful. I literally read "Lunatics" in two sittings which, for me, is exceedingly rare. It is that entertaining and paced like a runaway locomotive. As it barrels forward from one improbable situation to the next even bigger catastrophe, I was simply compelled to push forward to see what would come next. This element of surprise and humor coupled with complete ridiculousness is something that I enjoy mightily. But if you aren't into slapstick comic mayhem (and really, this plays as a big adult cartoon), "Lunatics" might not be for you. In fact, to fully enjoy the craziness, it probably helps to be slightly unhinged yourself!

Not a lot should be revealed about "Lunatics." Anyone that divulges details of the comic exploits is taking away the book's strongest asset--the wonder of what will happen next. The narrative is exceedingly straightforward in concept. Two suburban fathers take an instant dislike to one another at a weekend soccer game. After the initial unpleasantness, though, the two are forced together into additional confrontations that immediately start to spiral out of control. Before long, everything that they've known will become upended as their situation goes from bad, to worse, to impossible, to worse than impossible.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Kilgore Trout on February 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I used to chuckle at Dave Barry's writing back when my hometown paper carried his syndicated column. I've always liked "Saturday Night Live" and I LOVE "Curb Your Enthusiasm", shows that Alan Zweibel has written for. So what's not to like when the two team up for a comic novel? A great deal, I'm afraid.

This book has two big problems. The first is that the characters of Philip Horkman and Jeffery Peckerman aren't characters at all but caricatures. Caricatures work really well in comedy sketches and political cartoons. Caricatures don't work well for 300 pages. There is a reason why hilarious sketches like Sandler's Opera Man and Belushi's Samurai in the deli were never made into feature films: the joke isn't sustainable. Horkman and Peckerman overstay their welcome by at least a hundred pages.

The bigger problem is that the book isn't funny. It relies on flatulence, diarrhea, dog poop, and urination for laughs. These "jokes" are very stale. We've seen and read this stuff before. I kept turning the page waiting for other worn out comedy tropes to appear like the trusty groin kick or a pie in the face.

Dave Barry wrote funny columns. Alan Zweibel wrote funny TV. Unfortunately, their combined talents resulted in a comedic book that wasn't funny.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Frank VINE VOICE on December 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you like Jerry Lewis you will probably enjoy "Lunatics." If you are the type of person who laughs out loud when reading funny books, you will probably like "Lunatics." If you are that type of person, do not read this while eating because you are likely to spew food all over the book and your dining companions. Getting the idea?

Without giving away any of the "plot," you can get a sense of "Lunatics" by this list of words, in no particular order, taken from the story: clothing optional cruise, compost, lawyers, scrotum, Zumba, Pez, lemur, pirates, Jeffrey Dahmer, bananas, Amway, Mary Kay, naked, diarrhea, nun, "Dildo of Doom," bears escaped from the zoo, Chuck E. Cheese, Charo, laser hair removal, Spaghetti O's, Sarah Palin, insulin pump, yodel and Donald Trump.

Hats off to authors Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. I was really impressed that they could keep this story going for 330 pages. What a remarkable achievement!
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