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Nothing Happens Until It Happens to You: A Novel Without Pay, Perks, or Privileges Hardcover – September 7, 2010

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Middle-aged Jeffrey Reiner has a tough time adjusting to the unemployed life in Shine's competent if pat debut. When Jeffrey, a calendar editor at a Florida newspaper, gets pink-slipped, his blandly ordered life unravels. "One second I'm elated about going on to do other things in life," he says, "...and the next I want to puke." With little support from his wife and kids, Jeffrey befriends a 20-something female neighbor and makes halfhearted attempts at active unemployment, like drinking during the day with the other jobless and doing odd jobs. As his life spins out of control and the prospect of finding another job becomes more daunting, Jeffrey stumbles through a series of trials and exploits that give his life new meaning. Shine creates a relatable picture of a modern man dealing with the economic downturn (and, more pointedly, the sour state of newspapers), but Jeffrey's odyssey--"You're turning into an adventure story," the neighbor tells him--doesn't always ring true. A quick, tidy ending caps off a meandering story that can't quite find a proper destination.
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From Booklist

After 18 years writing mind-numbing copy for a Florida newspaper, Jeffrey Reiner is shocked to receive a pink slip. At first, he finds solace in his neighbors’ sympathy and his wife’s willingness to pick up extra hours at the medical lab. But as Jeff counts down the days before his severance pay ends, his concern turns into complacency as he decides he’d rather not work at all, then only jumps at opportunities as they arrive. He winds up performing odd jobs for a mysterious man of whose name he’s uncertain, “networking” at bars with the fellow unemployed, and seeking out a long-lost middle-school friend who seems to have disappeared after a violent accident. When his son openly resents his father’s relationship with lusty next-door-slacker Alex, and his daughter begins showering at friends’ houses to avoid penny-pinching, Jeff realizes there’s more at stake than his career. Unpredictable and with deprecating humor, journalist Shine’s debut will appeal to anyone affected by the current economic crisis. --Jonathan Fullmer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307589854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307589859
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,245,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By tom on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those novels that, as soon as you finish, you want to start reading all over again. And then you want to read your favorite parts to whoever is in the room with you, only it turns out that ALL of it is your favorite part. Shine is one of those rare writers whose voice is both startlingly original and uncannily familiar. The familiar part is inside the reader. It's the shock of recognition, and what we recognize is our own innermost experience. His characters are screamingly funny, but sneakily profound. The plot twists and turns are snort-tea-through-your-nose hilarious (STTYNH). I don't know if the mainstream reviewers will notice this book, but it's the kind of thing where people are going to stumble on it, then pass it to friends, who will pass it to more friends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
South Florida seems to produce a number of funny authors. Dave Barry and Carl Haiisen have nothing on author T.M. Shine when it comes to spilling the secrets of life in south Florida. Or, actually, the secrets of life as an unemployed journalist in south Florida. I have the feeling the story of unemployment after a long length of employment might play out the same in most areas of the US these days. Shine, though, puts a particular "shine" on his story of Jeffrey Reiner, who has lost his job at a failing Florida newspaper and the resulting time as Reiner, his family and dog, and their friends, get used to the trials and tribulations of unemployment.

Shine's book is a comedy, though, with a few bits of "truths" at its core. It's a good read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Skeptic on October 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When you are as brilliant an observer of people as T.M. Shine is, your fiction reads like ... truth. This is a terrific book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christian B Vachon on October 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." I don't know who said this, but I think of it whenever I read TM Shine (his narrative non-fiction work is worth googling). Shine puts a human face on the unraveling economy in the story of one man who slowly loses his job and family but has done nothing wrong beyond having not made a fortune.

The novel avoids the standard tropes of a Horatio Alger story-- throughout Shine is blunt and honest in exploring the question of how our identities are locked into our work, and how the former can unravel when the latter is suddenly taken.

All of that said, Nothing Happens... is a very funny book. Shine has a keen eye for the absurdities of American life and seems to revel in the role of court jester.
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