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Mr. Peanut (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 19, 2011

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ross's inspired debut explores the proximity of violence and love and begins with the death of Alice Pepin, whose lifelong struggle with depression, insecurity, and obesity comes to an abrupt end at her kitchen table when she is found dead with a peanut lodged in her throat. She has suffered suicide by anaphylactic shock—or so claims her husband, David, a quiet computer game programmer obsessed with M.C. Escher, Hitchcock, and working and re-working a draft of his unpublished novel, a violent possible masterpiece. Gradually, the two detectives on the case begin to see disturbing parallels between their own marital dramas and the Pepins' cruel rotations of brinkmanship and adoration. Ross's depiction of love is grotesque and tender at once, and his style is commanding as he combines torture and romance to create a sense of vertigo-as-romance. It's a unique book—stark and sublime, creepy and fearless—that readers into the darker end of the literary spectrum won't want to miss. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Despite an extensive, prepublication marketing blitz, critics were largely unimpressed with Ross's debut novel. Most cited a convoluted plot and, worst of all, inadequate research. "Adam Ross, it's clear, doesn't know the first thing about murder investigations," noted Entertainment Weekly. A few were simply put off by the three men and their excessively dark views on marriage. Despite these critiques, several reviewers believed the author shows great promise, with the New York Times likening Ross to a "sorcerer with words." Although Mr. Peanut displays too many flaws to recommend, it will be interesting to see how the author's career evolves. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307454908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307454904
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Ross was born and raised in New York City and attended the Trinity School, where he was a state champion wrestler. A child actor, he has appeared in movies, commercials, and television shows, as well as on radio dramas such as The Eternal Light and E.G. Marshall's Mystery Theater.

He graduated with departmental honors in English from Vassar College and holds an M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing from Hollins University and Washington University respectively, where he studied with Richard Dillard, Stanley Elkin, and William Gass.

Ross and his wife relocated to Nashville in 1995, where they continue to reside with their two daughters. From 1999-2003, he was a feature writer and special projects editor for the Nashville Scene, the city's alternative weekly. His column, Mondo Nashville, covered the city's local oddballs and off-kilter luminaries. His cover stories ranged in subjects from the city's porn king, Al Woods, to race relations, to interviews with homegrown movie star, Reese Witherspoon. He also wrote extensively on books and film. His nonfiction has been published in The Nashville Scene, The New York Times Book Review, NFocus, P.O.V., The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, and Jungle Law. His fiction has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly.

Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Terry Mesnard VINE VOICE on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It can be a nuisance when you get something, a book, a movie, a game, expecting one thing and receiving something completely different. Take Mr. Peanut, for example. If you were to read the synopsis, you'd think it was a murder mystery with a tinge of familial drama, concerning David and Alice Pepin. Alice, deathly allergic to peanuts, is found dead, having eaten said peanuts. The police think David's to blame. Okay, then take the back of the advanced readers' copy that reads, "...when Adam Ross asked me to read what he'd been working on far longer than the eight years we'd known each other, I was in for an extraordinary surprise...And I was soon thrilled (again) to see it take Knopf by storm, reader by reader, department by department--an occurrence that signals a truly exceptional book." Okay, so we have an interesting premise and a very highly praised congratulatory note by no less than the Vice President, Editor-at-Large of Random House.

What I got out of Mr. Peanut, instead, was something completely different...and nowhere near as exciting. True, David and Alice Pepin are characters and true Alice does die from a peanut...this happens in the first few pages. But the story doesn't really center around the Pepins so much. I'd almost call their story a MacGuffin except that they do get circled back to, because the plot quickly spirals away from them and toward the two detectives who are working his case. You see, all of the men in this book have problems with their wives. And all of the women in this book have problems with the men. Neither side are exactly shining examples of their genders. The women all seem to be depressed that married life and their husbands aren't what they're cracked up to be.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Adam Ross challenges expectations and traditional literary narrative in his bold, yet sadly disjointed, novel "Mr. Peanut." I had fully anticipated enjoying this dark journey through the psyche of twisted relationships and possible murder--but ultimately what seeks to be complex comes across as strangely convoluted. The novel does have some powerful passages, and full sections of the book can be captivating in and of themselves. But put together as a whole, there's just too much going on to bring any story line through to a satisfying conclusion. This lack of focus has made me ambivalent toward the final product, and it is unfortunate because I think there are several good novels competing within the framework of "Mr. Peanut."

Ostensibly a murder mystery, at least in theory, Ross's story begins with the unusual demise of Alice Pepin whose death is by an allergic reaction to, you guessed it, everyone's favorite legume. Her husband is the prime suspect and their tumultuous past, including his infidelity and her obesity and subsequent weight loss, is fodder for the investigators who take the case. The murder investigation is soon overshadowed, however, by Ross's exploration of love, dysfunction and co-dependence within the conventions of marriage itself. We branch off from the main narrative to explore the lives of the detectives--one of whom is also haunted by a relationship in psychological torment and the other having been the subject of a murder investigation himself. Add references to Alfred Hitchcock, pop-psychology, M.C. Escher, and the process of writing--and "Mr. Peanut" becomes as overstuffed as my favorite sandwich. But what's good for my belly isn't good for my mind.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Renzi on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First of all, do you know what a Mobius strip is? Thought not. You will need a dictionary and access to Wikipedia before you start Adam Ross' debut novel, Mr. Peanut, and even then you may scratch your head a number of times before you get to the last page. But please do persevere, for this is one cracker jack of a novel that is oh so entertaining. Filled with puzzles, dreams that cry for interpretation, quirky characters (one named, cleverly enough, Mr. Mobius) it's a psychological mystery that reaches into the past and thrusts you forward into the future before dropping you, gasping for air, on the doorstep of the conclusion. Solve the puzzle and you will breathe a sigh of complete satisfaction. Not for the faint- hearted or the easily offended, the book includes a novel within a novel, passages filled with sex-fueled antics, an exploration of the hidden meanings in Alfred Hitchcock films, a case for the plight of the obese, an investigation of a murder that took place over sixty years ago and, most importantly, asks the question that faces many married couples, "Can marriage save your life, or is it just the beginning of a long double homicide?" (Page 309)

Within the first ten pages of the novel, Alice Pepin's obesity, insecurity and depression have culminated with her death from anaphylactic shock from the ingestion of a peanut at her kitchen table. Her husband, David, is the prime suspect in her murder. From here on, this brainteaser on steroids drags you through the maze of possibilities, moving forward, then backtracking, then looking behind door number two, then trying to twist the Rubric's cube another way, well, you get the idea.
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