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Abbott Awaits: A Novel (Yellow Shoe Fiction) Paperback – March 1, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'' . . . it's a sharp and brilliant and hilarious portrait of being a parent, both explication of and anodyne to the despair that people with children sometimes feel (and are usually not courageous enough to admit to. Bachelder, bless him, is).'' --The New Yorker

''Chris Bachelder's Abbott Awaits is a remarkable novel about a man, his daughter, his wife, his house, his yard, his neighborhood, his internet addiction, his plumbing, and most of all, his mind, which is brilliant, which is another way of saying that Bachelder is brilliant. Not since John Cheever has an American male fiction writer written so ingeniously, so beautifully, so heartbreakingly about the pain and sweetness of domestic life.'' --Brock Clarke, author of Exley and An Arsonist s Guide to Writers Homes in New England

''Chris Bachelder has been a real force in American fiction, his work by turns savage, brilliant, generous, forlorn, and hilarious. Abbott Awaits is another triumph, a sly and soaring novel about fear and tenderness and family, with not a lovely word wasted.'' --Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

''Let's face it--some people are just funnier and smarter than you and me, and Chris Bachelder is one of them. With Abbott Awaits, he s pretty much invented his own genre, which I'm tempted to call 'Existential Domestic Cosmology,' the kind of thing that would happen if Beckett and Whitman regarded the universe from the perspective of Homer Simpson or Ward Cleaver. On every page there's something to laugh about and something to ponder.'' --Keith Lee Morris, author of The Dart League King

''Bachelder takes on the minutia of domesticity and turns it into something enchanting and wise. Entering each short chapter is like opening a Joseph Cornell box filled with the strangeness of the commonplace. Abbott Awaits is a wonder.'' --Jill Ciment, author of Heroic Measures

Chris Bachelder has moxie: who else could write a novel about the everyday life of a man awaiting his second child and make it both startling and feverish with dread? Abbott Awaits is a lucid, tender work, full of the sort of sardonic wit that will make you poke your spouse awake at night so that you can read long passages aloud. Real life is in these pages, infuriating and gorgeous, mundane and sublime. I read it with wincing recognition and finished it feeling absurdly grateful for my own everyday life. --Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

Chris Bachelder is putting together a startling, innovative body of work, and Abbott Awaits is his best book yet. One could call this novel many things: a domestic thriller; a Nicholson Baker-esque frolic through one man's quiet, crowded consciousness; a piercing examination of marriage and parenthood. Bachelder's prose is funny, cruel, devastating, knowing, and alive. I have never been happier that I do not have children after reading a novel, and yet, somehow, I have also never been sadder. --Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

About the Author

Chris Bachelder is the author of the novels U.S.! and Bear v. Shark. He grew up in Virginia and now teaches in the writing program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

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Product Details

  • Series: Yellow Shoe Fiction
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807137227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807137222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Abbott Awaits is a snapshot of Abbott's life at thirty-seven, a three month record of his wonderfully scattered thoughts about marriage and parenthood, neighbors and home repairs, freedom and constraint. Abbott feels entrapped by "his small beseeching world," by "the broken hinge, the moldy tub, the dog who has to pee." It's difficult to tell whether his marriage is troubled or typical. His experiences often make him despondent, yet he's moved by motorists who cooperate with each other when the traffic light fails. Believing that children need stability, he wonders whether he should consistently appear sullen and unresponsive to his daughter at breakfast despite her preference for the few mornings when he manages to be interactive and entertaining. Abbott thinks he has a responsibility to enjoy life, an obligation to delight in his existence, but he's distracted in his effort to do so by a branch leaning on a power line. Sometimes the only thing Abbott wants "is to be knocked unconscious by the long wooden handle of a lawn tool." On the other hand, watching his two-year-old daughter take in the passing world through a car window with wonder and amazement makes Abbott feel that he, like his daughter, is "living fully and directly." In short, Abbott is a complex individual in the very ways we are all complex. I suspect many readers will recognize a bit of themselves in Abbott; I certainly did.

Although quite different in style and subject matter, there's an eccentricity and playfulness to Chris Bachelder's storytelling that reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut. Other comparisons also come to mind. Like Seinfeld, Bachelder chronicles the mundane and makes it funny.
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Format: Paperback
I know it won't say much to some, but my first response to the book is a simple, "Yes." That's a fairly all encompassing affirmation: style, substance, insights, tone, voice, structure. And I am so glad to be older now, past the stage in life so ably captured. If I were to start a men's reading group, this would be the book I begin with...hmmmm.
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Format: Paperback
Wow- reminds me of Updike at his best but more self aware, funnier, and more concise- and I don't think Updike actually changed diapers. Reminds me a little of Tom Perrota in Little Children- Bachelder catches tedium of actually spending time with a toddler. And the portrait of what marriage is like is moving- nobody's marriages are the same...except when they are.. The concentration on the domestic moments and the absurd juxtapositions of modern life are captured beautifully. Read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I would have loved this book even if I had read it in my childless 20s. But I had the happy fortune to come across it at more or less the perfect moment in my life, while I was parenting a two year old and expecting her younger sibling. Having read it while I also lived the book's premise, I can say that Bachelder describes the experience nearly perfectly.

There were passages in the book in which I had the Borgesian sense that Bachelder was actually narrating my family's daily life as we lived it. He put words to all of my gut feelings about this stage of parenthood. Even now, 18 months after I first ripped through it, scenes and images from this little novella can hit with me full, painfully funny force in the midst of daily life. (I can honestly say that I will never again be able to tune out a preschooler's rendition of "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean.")

I urge this book upon every friend who announces a pregnancy -- especially the fathers-to-be! I am disappointed to see that it currently has only 6 reviews, and I hope it finds a wider audience.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read other stories told in vignettes, and it is not my favorite type of narrative. However, I don't think there is another way this particular story could have been told. The detachment we feel toward Abbott gives us a better sense of what he's feeling than a straightforward narrative would. And even while he seems to wander through his days, not always feeling like he's part of it, there were still moments of exceptional tenderness and incredible sweetness, which give us the sense that perhaps Abbott is not in the grips of as severe a funk as he would have us believe.

The segment entitled Abbott Hogs the Mood made me laugh, while Abbott's Folk Remedy and Abbott's Inadvertent Research on Prepositions were among the more tender illustrations.

Each segment is short, making it an even quicker read than one would expect at 180 pages, but it does not need to be read all at once. The structure of the book sets it up so you can read one section or several, and then set the book aside for a while until you want to pick it up again. I don't think a reader will lose the thread if it takes a month or two to read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is wonderful. It's broken into 3 months of the narrator's life, where each day gets its own short-story like section. Relatively easy to read sections, almost zen-like in their conciseness and clarity. And yet it's nuanced and imbued with so many layers of cultural, socioeconomic and psychological questioning that just one day's reflection is something to ponder over for hours. The story as a whole sticks with you long after you put the book down.

Endearing characters too. The husband (and wife who often features more prominently for her presence in the book than her dialogue) is easy to relate to as he over-agonizes about & navigates another middle-class day, riding the pendulum between the boredom and frustration of mundane daily existence & the joy and wonder at the luck of having a loving, peaceful life.
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