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Total Oblivion, More or Less: A Novel Paperback – November 24, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep
"The Elemental Assassins Series"
Book fourteen in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series RT Book Reviews calls unbeatable entertainment!. Learn more | See series page
$14.19 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As this peculiar but entertaining first novel begins, geography and cosmology have shifted. Natural laws work unpredictably. The U.S. government has disappeared and plundering bands of Goths and Scythians roam the Midwest. Sea serpents close the shipping lanes, and oil companies convert their tankers into slave ships that cruise the Mississippi. Clear-eyed, tough-minded teen Macy Palmer flees St. Paul with her family for the illusory safety of an island in the Gulf of Mexico. As they travel through a wavering postapocalyptic landscape, her relatives undergo upsetting personal metamorphoses. DeNiro has attracted attention for his short fiction (especially the Small Beer Press collection Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead), and this longer story's energy ebbs a bit as Macy gets some of the oddness under control. Nonetheless, it's an impressive debut from a promising writer. (Dec.)
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Review

“Chock-a-block with adventure, suspense, and surprise. Apocalyptic family values, too! Recommended to all.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

“Thoughtful, ambitious writing and truly transformative reading.” —Small Spiral Notebook

"Wow! This is a wonderfully weird, fun, touching, heartfelt and memorable novel. Imagine if Huck Finn had been living in post-apocalypse America, and Terry Pratchett had been promoted to God, with George Saunders as his avenging angel. The world of this book is a little like that. In this case, the role of Huck is played by a sixteen-year-old-girl named Macy, whose smart, mordant, utterly convincing voice grounds our journey through this crazy landscape. Macy reminds us that no matter how surreal things get, there is still resilience and hope in the human spirit. Alan DeNiro has created a hilarious and terrifying dream world, but his real genius is that he's peopled it with characters we come to love."—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply, You Remind Me of Me, and National Book Award finalist Among the Missing

“In Total Oblivion, More or Less, Alan DeNiro lifts the modern family drama and sets it down in the middle of a wildly inventive post apocalyptic landscape. The insulated life of Middle America may be a thing of the past, but DeNiro finds a way to lead readers into a future full of humor, imagination, and hope.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

“There aren’t many writers who take weirdness as seriously as DeNiro does, and fewer still who can extract so much grounded emotion, gut-dropping humor, and rousing adventure from it. A dizzying display of often brilliant, always strange, and definitely unique storytelling.”—Booklist, starred review
 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Original edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,660,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and went to school at the College of Wooster and the University of Virginia. My short story collection, Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, was published in 2006 by Small Beer Press. It was a finalist for the Crawford Award. My first novel, Total Oblivion, More or Less, is out in November from Spectra. In the starred review, Booklist said: "There aren't many writers who take weirdness as seriously as DeNiro does, and fewer still who can extract so much grounded emotion, gut-dropping humor, and rousing adventure from it. A dizzying display of often brilliant, always strange, and definitely unique storytelling." I live outside St. Paul with my wife Kristin, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. Feel free to say hello; my website is www.goblinmercantileexchange.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Total Oblivion, More or Less is a fantastical voyage down the Mississippi that would make Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer proud. The only difference with this trip is: there's no going home.

"There were tall white birches lining the eastern shore, their bark like an albino's skin. They seemed like trees from a different place - but then I remembered that we were in a different place. And anyway, we'd never be going back to these birches. Few things from the journey would really be remembered. But maybe I would make a point of remembering the birches, because no one else would." -pg 152-153

Cell phones, computers, universities, strip malls, and all modern conveniences are gone. The Mississippi River has become as deep as an ocean housing submarines, whales, and other deep sea aquatic life. The states no longer exist by the names we know and English is not the language spoken by all. On the shoreline roam giraffes, and horse-mounted warriors called Scythians who battle for power with the new leaders called the Empire.

Despite there not being an America anymore, the American spirit is strong with average-citizens-now-turned-refuges taking whatever is available and starting fresh. New professions and businesses emerge in cities that should be familiar, but are unrecognizable due to the plague that ravages society, the shifting environment, and various governments fighting for control.

"I kept thinking, well, maybe all of this trouble will pass over, and electricity will start working again, and the Scythians will retreat to wherever they came from, and the Empire will give back their land, too, and people will be able to use their cars again and drive wherever they want to, and the government will find a cure for the plague, and we'll go back to St.
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Format: Paperback
This is the story of Macy, an ordinary teenage girl in an ordinary American family, in St. Paul, Minnesota. But things are going a bit wrong in her world. Scythians have invaded Minnesota, fighting the Empirial forces... huh? Yes, that is what this book is like, as Macy and her family end up on a strange trip down the Mississippi river. Old cities no longer exist, new ones are there. And the Mississippi appears to have gotten very, very deep.

This is a wonderful book of misplaced history, fantastical events, and a human being (Macy) coming to grips with her life and her family. And really, isn't life like that for all of us, all of the time, anyway? Who knows what amazing thing is coming down the pike for any of us. You just have to deal with it.

I loved this beautifully written little book.
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Alan DeNiro never writes the expected, so don't expect your ordinary apocalypse when you open this seriously funny-sad apocalyptic novel. There are lots of bangs in here, and lots of whimpers, and lots and lots of hope for something better, which most end-of-the-world tales forget to tell about. Highly recommended.
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First and foremost: This isn't a book for everyone. It can get confusing at times and at times and really, but that's kind of the point. You're not dealing with the savior of the world, or following the adventures of a reluctant teenager who somehow became the symbol of a resistance. No, instead, you're dealing with the side characters of a cataclysmic event that literally happened overnight. These characters aren't made to be likeable, but rather to showcase what can happen to the average person, although I use that term lightly because it is a bit of a weird book. Again though, it isn't really about what happened to the world, as more of what happened to this family when Vikings randomly come about and wipe out all of technology and take over the world.
Yeah, it's a bit of a weird book, and honestly, if you aren't into these kinds of weird books, then you're not going to like it much, because weird things do happen. I mean giraffe randomly appears at one point and then a dog starts talking. It just gets all kinds of weird and I truly do just enjoy it.
Although I did find it a little difficult to figure out where the dialogue begins because there aren't any quotation marks (or at least my version didn't have any), but I got into the groove of things son enough. Still though, would've loved me some quotation marks.
So if you're into a weird books and want to read something that isn't about kids and teenagers forced to be heroes, than you're for sure going to love this.
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