- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Flatiron Books (February 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250085551
- ISBN-13: 978-1250085559
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All That's Left to Tell: A Novel Hardcover – February 14, 2017
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Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
"An American is taken hostage in Pakistan in this captivating page-turner, and as you spiral through an endless, fascinating trail of stories shared between the prisoner and his captor it becomes clear that the relationship between them is far more complex than one could possibly imagine."
―Newsweek, The Best New Book Releases
“A real tale for our times…Lowe’s sense of purpose and moral compass may remind readers of Ward Just and Marilynne Robinson; a book that just might be great.”
"A refreshing debut novel that should not go unnoticed...Mr. Lowe demonstrates exceptional talent as a wordsmith, and for plotting an intriguing story whose premise invites readers to practice empathy for another by imagining their story. There is much to look forward to in Mr. Lowe’s rising talent."
"A literary Russian nesting doll, with stories embedded within stories."
“Intense and compelling, Daniel Lowe’s debut novel, All That’s Left to Tell, is filled with both profound emotional disconnect and insatiable longing.”
“Engrossing...Profound...A seductive tale that stays with you, leading us to examine how we make sense of ourselves through our relationships with those most important to us and how we may reckon with them when a life ends.”
“Intertwines stories within stories so cleverly that, in the end, both the characters and the reader start to wonder which of the narratives are real and which are imagined.”
“Engrossing . .. A seductive tale that examines how we make sense of ourselves.”
“In Daniel Lowe’s fiction debut, All That’s Left to Tell, stories create life, hope, pain, and they bend the mind, as story itself is investigated by the book’s telescoping structure of a story within a story, within a story…Lowe’s real talents become apparent very quickly.”
―Wales Arts Review
“Luscious…Compelling. Lowe’s elaborate tapestry showcases humankind’s reliance on the power of stories to comfort, correct, and clarify both our hidden feelings and exposed fears. With its shifting points of view and emotional authenticity, Lowe’s masterfully crafted first novel will be a surefire hit with book discussion groups.”
“A remarkably accomplished debut.”
―Library Journal (starred)
“Captivating…Lowe’s prose is evocative, the plot gripping, and the attachment that reaches across the alienation between these characters reaches out to the reader as well. A story about storytelling, stirring and effective.”
“Not since Kevin Brockmeier’s The Truth About Celia has a novel made a more dramatic case for the importance of stories as a way to deal with life’s tragic events…The characters here remain real and memorable, a credit to Lowe’s storytelling skill.”
“Daniel Lowe's debut novel opens with a fierce, immediate narrative grip that continues to tighten until the book reaches a climax that resonates long after one has closed the cover of this haunted and haunting book.”
―Stuart Dybek, author of Paper Lantern and Ecstatic Cahoots
“Like Tim O’Brien's Going After Cacciato, All That's Left to Tell celebrates not just the power of storytelling but the deeply human need for it in even the most dire situations. Alternately gripping and dreamy, Daniel Lowe’s debut imagines what the stories we tell reveal about ourselves, and how they may save us.”
―Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset
“Through carefully crafted story telling and an expert’s ear for dialogue, Daniel Lowe delivers an outstanding debut. The plot of All That's Left to Tell is satisfyingly ripped from recent headlines and takes the reader on a dizzying, dream-state of a ride as Lowe unspools the storyline to stunning effect.”
―Christopher Scotton, author of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
"An utterly engrossing novel about the universal need to tell stories in order to survive, to remember, and to be remembered."
―Laila Lalami, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Moor's Account
About the Author
Daniel Lowe teaches writing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA in fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh. All That’s Left to Tell is his debut.
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A soda pop executive is estranged from his daughter for many years; he takes a corporate stint in Pakistan after his wife divorces him. He daughter is murdered; he gets kidnapped, ransomed, then murdered. The end.
In the middle is a long story that his woman handler/captor tells him about a life his daughter never had. And a story about himself. It is these stories that make up the bulk of the novel and if there is a point to it, it eludes me.
It just doesn't add up to me; it doesn't come across as a realistic portrayal of how a kidnapped American in Pakistan would be treated - based on Bowe Bergdahl's treatment as outlined in the Serial podcast. Would an American woman who joined the Pakistani's really be left for hours to talk with a captive with no man around? It doesn't seem likely. Wouldn't the experience be more brutal? Almost certainly.
Life is miserable and then you die. Perhaps it is stories that give our lives' meaning? Is that the point?
The kidnap/story-within-a-story device is stretched. The basic overlay could have been told in a more believable way I think. The very basics of his captors and what is going on to effect his release is completely missing. To be generous, this probably mirrors his knowledge of the situation.
It rises a bit above the utterly bleak "Ninety-Two in the Shade" by Thomas McGuane and "Ransom" by Jay Mcinerney which put be off reading modern fiction back in the 90s. Novels don't have to have happy endings; but there has to be some glimpse of something that approaches realistic.
American Marc Laurent is a midlevel Pepsi executive who is taken hostage in Pakistan. Every night his hands are tied behind his back and he is blindfolded when a woman who tells him to call her Josephine visits the room where he is kept. She wants to know who will pay a ransom for his release. When it becomes clear that Marc is estranged from everyone he knows in the USA, she begins to demand that he tell her stories about his life, focusing on his daughter Claire, who at age 19 was murdered a month ago and Marc did not return to the USA for her funeral.
As Marc slowly reveals stories from his past, Josephine weaves tales about a future Claire at 34 years old. This Claire survived the attack, is married and has a daughter. She is traveling to Michigan to see her estranged father who is dying. On the way Claire picks up a hitchhiker named Genevieve, who makes up stories for Claire about Marc’s life after he divorced her mother.
This is a beautifully written novel that consists of a story made up of stories within stories that share common connections. The line between reality and story-telling blurs and what is real and what is fiction becomes unclear. The truth of Marc's situation may be less rewarding than the stories. The stories themselves become more real, more compelling, than reality. The stories are what develop the characters, real or imagined. The plot is the story telling - or the plots within the stories. It's all very consciously self-referential; I kept picturing an ouroboros while reading.
The writing is powerful and masterful - there is no fault to be found there. For some reason I bristled at being played with emotionally as Marc's reality stands in stark juxtaposition with the stories being crafted and so lovingly told. Sometimes it's okay if an author messes with my mind while I'm reading; sometimes it just begins to annoy me and feels like too much manipulation. I'm afraid that this time the set up for the story telling felt too contrived for me and, in view of current events, a bit insensitive and careless. It is clear from the start that Marc, a hostage who is surely going to be executed by these terrorists who are forcing him to tell stories, may find some comfort from the stories being told to him, but I can find no charm in this, no matter how exquisitely written. Yes, people and ideas can live on in stories, but stories don't negate the ugliness behind taking a person hostage to ransom them.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Flatiron Books.
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