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Unexpectedly, Milo: A Novel Paperback – August 3, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dicks offers another neurotic romp (after Something Missing), this one about a Connecticut home nurse and closet OCD sufferer who, recently separated from his uptight wife, satisfies the demands of his disorder by, among other things, flipping open jars of grape jelly and singing German pop music. Among Milo Slade's geriatric patients are a man dependent on Viagra for his addiction to Internet pornography and a woman who makes Milo rake her shag carpeting. Milo, meanwhile, stumbles onto a cache of videotapes that form a mysterious woman's video diary. In it, she confesses her secrets and talks about the guilt she carries around about a childhood friend named Tess who disappeared and is, the woman believes, dead. The story prompts Milo to take a road trip to North Carolina to find Tess, and though it upsets his routine, he is finally forced to share the demands of his disorder with someone else, which changes his rather grave perspective on life. Despite exhaustive commentary after every demand takes hold, Milo proves to be a pretty charming character, even if a lot of the intended humor gets buried beneath his suffering. (Aug.)
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"An adventure of a summer read you’ll never put down."  -Daily Candy 

Reading a Matthew Dicks novel always proves to be an unadulterated joy, and Unexpectedly, Milo, is no exception. Dicks’ gift lies in his ability to take superficially eccentric characters and dig beneath their peculiarities to develop full-bodied, lovable human beings. Rather than feeling gimmicky, Dicks' approach to his his characters’ off-center habits provides insight into broader truths on human nature and the things that make us tick. Readers join Milo on a riveting and tender voyage into the heart of insecurity—the fear we all carry inside us that no one will ever truly accept us for who we are. Filled with humor and sweetness, Unexpectedly, Milo reminds us that happiness can be found in the strangest of places.   --BookPage

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307592308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307592309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musicals Caught in the Middle and Sticks & Stones. He is the humor columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in The Hartford Courant, Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. He has also written comic books for DoubleTake Comics.

When not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach, and a Lord of Sealand. He has been teaching for 17 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a 20-time Moth StorySLAM champion and three-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for The American Life, TED, The Colin McEnroe Show, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth, and many others. He is a regular guest on several Slate podcasts, including The Gist, where he teaching storytelling.

Matthew is also the co-founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking throughout the world to individuals, corporations, school districts, and more. He has most recently taught at Yale, The University of Connecticut Law School. Purdue University, Kripalu, and Graded School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Matthew is the co-host of Boy Vs. Girl, a podcast about gender and gender stereotypes.
Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have two children, Clara and Charlie. He grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a huge fan of Matthew Dicks first book Something Missing: A Novel and I had high hopes for his second book. This book had some similarities to his first work, (Neurotic main character whose quirks are running their life, a love interest, some conflict, and lots of humor) but this book seems to be directed to a more "adult" audience. There is a good deal of discussion about things like sex which for me robs the book of some of the special charm "Something Missing" had and this one would have had if that subject that been dealt with in a different manner. However the wonderfully singular storytelling is still there and the unique situations the main character Milo gets into makes this book wonderfully distinctive and intriguing (I only wish it had been longer so it wouldn't have had to end so quickly!). I recommend this book to anyone who liked Matthew Dicks first novel and to anyone who likes original characters and plot lines.
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I was privileged to read the author's first book, Something Missing: A Novel, and to comment on it and so it was a double treat to get a copy of his second novel to read. His writing style is fresh and funny. His very observant eye picks up the details that many of us don't see and that really is the premise of his books, no body is looking!

Milo quite obviously has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has untold routines that he has to do so that his head doesn't feel like it will blow off. Yet he has managed to be married for 3 years without his wife knowing about his quirks and when she keeps telling him she needs space, he moves out. Apparently she meant only to go visit a friend for a week or two and to not sign a lease on an apartment. They aren't communicating very well at this point. But Milo had signed a lease and he is starting to realize that life feels so much better when he can do his rituals when needed instead of having to wait to be sure no one will observe him.

Then life takes an unexpected detour when he finds a video-camera and film on a park bench. In his search to find the owner, he discovers that the owner was using the camera as a video journal and that she feels responsible for the death of two friends. Milo decides that he has to help her and goes off on many tangents to help this girl. Along the way he makes friends and discovers that even when he lets himself and his problems be known to others, they still like him and care for him. As he observes the people around him, he comes to realize that we all have some kind of quirk and it doesn't make us bad, it just makes us each an individual.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You know those annoying little habits that you have, that you don't want anyone else to know about? Your little rituals, the way you have to carry your keys in your right pocket and your phone in your left, and check them every time you walk out your door?

Do you hide those habits from others, embarrassed that they might raise an eyebrow, or roll their eyes, or even -- horror of horrors -- laugh at you?

If you do any of these things (and who doesn't?), then Milo Slade has you beat all to heck.

This is a man who has arranged his life, including his employment, his marriage, where he lives and who he spends time with, around his habits. His demanding habits. His obsessive-compulsive habits, one could say, though Milo doesn't think he has OCD. He thinks he has a German submarine captain in his head who gives him orders, and then begins tightening valves and increasing pressure inside Milo's mind until the orders are carried out. He doesn't think this is literally true, but it is how he pictures the mysterious source of these strange demands that control nearly everything he does.

Demands like: opening jars of Smuckers grape jelly, just to hear the pop! as the vacuum seal releases. Bowling a strike. Singing "99 Luftballoons," by Nena, in the original German, karaoke style. Cracking the cubes out of an ice cube tray. Letting the air out of his car tires and replacing it with fresh air. Perhaps the most difficult are the words that arise in Milo's mind -- placebo, or loquacious -- and which repeat over and over again, becoming louder and more insistent until he can think of nothing else, can do nothing else, and is overwhelmed with pain, until: he can hear somebody use the word.
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I came to Matthew Dick through Something Missing: A Novel, Dick's second novel which has made a splash on Amazon and elsewhere. That book was wonderful and led me back to this one. Although the plots and characters are entirely different, and indeed, Something Missing might be in a crime or thriller section and Unexpectedly, Milo would not, they are very similar indeed, and all that I loved about the former is present in the latter.

Each of Dick's novels centers on a nice guy with a lot to offer but with some sort of social disorder that makes normal operation in the world difficult. Each character has carved out a niche that allows him to function successfully with his quirks/disabilities, and Dick details the niche with humorous meticulousness. As the hero's world is revealed, however, he also faces a crisis and, to do the right thing, must exit his comfort zone and put his mode of coping at risk. Resolution of his crisis also involves resolution of a mystery that both keeps the reader engaged and draws on the hero's resourcefulness. In addressing the crisis, the hero is brought into the world and transformed. He remains himself, but takes that special self into the wider world. In short, he grows up.

Like the wonderful early novels of Donald E. Westlake, such as The Busy Body and Help I Am Being Held Prisoner which threw likable, bright ne'er-do-wells into similar humorous, mysteries and capers from which they emerged grown up and better men, Unexpectedly, Milo (and Something Missing) are full of clever, real-world observations. You may not know a Milo, but he and his world will look true and familiar. One of my new favorite authors.
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