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The Every Boy Paperback – February 28, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Henry Every, the titular boy in Shapiro's inventive but too precious debut novel, drowns under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 15, leaving behind a mother who's a little obsessed with ant farms, a father devoted to his jellyfish and boxing, and five years' worth of diary entries written on 2,600 pages of loose-leaf graph paper. This "ledger... is... a catalog of life's wee tics and pangs... threadbare confessionals, overheard dialogue transcriptions, [and] stabs at investigative journalism." For his estranged parents, Hannah and Harlan, it's a window on the wacky inner life of a deeply (but quite happily) odd teenager. Henry's antics and observations are endearingly offbeat for the most part, but become cloying at times: in answer to the essay question "Who are you?" he "found himself starting at the Precambrian era and sifting through four and a half billion years worth of being." Though Shapiro serves up some wise, lovely characterizations (Henry's grandma Lulu, for example), the mostly light-and-sweet narrative stalls in moments of self-conscious precocity, when the author's fascination with Henry resembles a narcissistic adolescent crush. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, with Shapiro, whose documentary Murderball won an Audience Award at Sundance this year, attached to write and direct.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Quirky, not 'quirky.' Profound, not precious. A magical, haunting, hilarious debut." — Amy Sedaris

"So many young writers have been described as 'Salingeresque'...it's a shock to come across one who fits the bill." --Tom Perrotta

"A story told with a savage disquiet wrapped in a disarming, triumphant hope." — J.T. Leroy, author of Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (February 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618773401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618773404
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,296,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
THE EVERY BOY by Dana Adam Shapiro is a slender and risky book. Its small size and decidedly short length --- just over 200 pages --- are misleading, perhaps purposefully so. One wouldn't think at first glance that the story of one boy's brief life, told after he has died, and the lives that he orbited during his short 15 years on the planet, would prove so full and ample. Yet the life of Henry Every was positively zaftig.

While Henry's propensity for quirky affectations and color-coded diary entries may incite readers to compare him to a certain Salinger protagonist, Henry is decidedly more optimistic. And while he often dons the cap of world-weariness, much of his delicately rendered observations are peppered with a kind of zany enthusiasm and almost child-like joy. Readers will have to decide for themselves which image of teenage boyhood rings truer, and while they may end up choosing Salinger's, Shapiro's is utterly disarming. Fifteen-year-olds with the sensitivity and awareness of Henry may be hard to come by, but we can still hold out hope that they exist.

Similarly, all the characters that flit through the pages of this novel are hopeful creations, so vivid and bizarre and wonderful that we can't help but hope they will leap off the page and into our worlds. Henry has a hard-drinking, gumbo-loving grandmother named Lulu who lives in a kind of perfect, symbiotic dysfunction with and her brash and fiery Cuban maid Papi; his Scandinavian mother cultivates ant-farms and mangles American platitudes, rendering them somehow truer; and the love of his short life, Benna, has only one hand.

These various personas are more than just amalgamations of quirks and oddities.
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Format: Hardcover
I was not sure what to expect from this book, but after reading it, I am hoping a second Novel is not too far behind. The story is told in a unique and refreshing style; I could not wait to get home from work to read it and it pained me to put it down to go to sleep. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is my first Amazon review; normally I keep my opinions to myself. I'm making an exception for The Every Boy, which is truly great, and deserves to be discovered by more and more people. I read it when it came out, mostly because I loved Murderball, the movie made by the author. Then I read it a few years later, after recommending it to a friend who liked it as much as I did. Then I came across it a couple of weeks ago, started reading a few pages, and was hooked all over again. Where to begin? It's definitely sad (the hero is dead on the first page!), but at the same time it's incredibly funny and uplifting. All the characters (Henry, Harlan, even the small ones like Mope Pope) are unique, but you can relate to them. And just when you think you know where the story is going, it takes a totally surprising turn (two words: Jersey Devil). Mr. Shapiro, if you're reading this -- can you write another novel? Please?
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Format: Hardcover
I hope I won't be accused of heresy if I say that Henry Every is more intriquing and more insightful than Holden Caulfield. Having enjoyed Henry so much, I wish he were alive for a sequel. Since that is not the case, perhaps the author will treat his readers to a next book featuring the inimitable Jorden. She is a standout among a cast of well drawn and fascinating characters.
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Format: Hardcover
Is it a compliment to say that I didn't want to talk to anyone for at least a day after finishing this book? Well, I didn't. It's that kind of a book. The kind where at first you don't want anyone to read it because it's just yours, but then you want everyone to read it. Here are some reviews that sum it up just right.

"Salinger, schmalinger! Burgeoning comparisons notwithstanding, you could black out every other paragraph in The Every Boy and it would still outcharm Catcher in the Rye. Outperform it, too. Icon magazine co-founder and former Spin senior editor Dana Adam Shapiro's debut novel does triple duty as mystery, exploration of love, and aborted coming-of-age story."

-- TIME OUT: NEW YORK

"I did not choose to review this book so much because of the plot - entertaining as it may be - but because of what I feel will be the lasting power of this book. Teenage angst has never been more intense. I believe The Every Boy could be taught in classrooms some day."

-- THE DAILY MISSISSIPPIAN

"This is a brilliant novel by an extraordinarily talented writer. Anyone who reads it with care will see immediately that it isn't Salinger or Roth or anyone else. It is Shapiro, a wonderful, new, surprising talent, whose writing is already elegantly refined."

-- MICHAEL PAYNE, author of Reading Theory: An Introduction to Lacan, Derrida and Kristeva
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Format: Paperback
Had the joy of having Shapiro speak to my film class tonight and figured I would, in return, write the guy at least a quasi-review. What can I say about the book that hasn't already been said? Good book? Yes. Should you read it? Probably.

One thing I would like to address: I have heard many call Shapiro's work empty or hackneyed, citing that he attempts to substitute idiosyncratic characters in lieu of deeper meaning. Granted, the characters are quirky at the least and, for some, simply too eccentric to be recognized as "true" characters. Though we may have seen the "precocious teen/eccentric family" archetype reaching its pinnacle in both literature and film in the last decade or so, the oddities of the characters in Shapiro's work are far from relevant when considering the work using a holistic approach. I agree that such characters might veil deeper meanings, but this is the brilliance behind the work; it is simply up to the audience to lift the veil and search for the universal truths about love, loss, and "jellyfish" the Every Boy communicates while still employing that dark humor we all have come to love.
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