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The Grievers Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
What starts out as a broadly humorous satire of dysfunction evolves into a surprisingly tender look at loss and grief. --Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
Like the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, Marc Schuster s The Grievers blends the post-juvenile humor of adults refusing to grow up with aching pathos and biting touches of genius. Comedy travels hand in hand with tragedy in this novel, neither any further away than the next page, but both singing in tune. --Cafe Libri
Top Customer Reviews
The Grievers is about the loss of a sometime friend and how it affects one Charley Schwartz, a conflicted, angst-ridden human dollar sign for an unnamed bank of somewhat regional repute, champion of correct-and-proper apostrophe use, who's actually a sarcastically quick-of-wit doctoral student (not) working on his thesis, and who's married to a wife in a constant state of quiet Freudian interior design demolition. To grow up or not grow up. Quit the job or not quit the job. Move forward...or continue allowing oneself to be inexorably run over by life's daily and unrelenting--even dark--minutiae.
Suicide--in and of itself--is no laughing matter, but it's how the world responds to such Human Drama that can be the stuff of comedy--black or otherwise. Charley knew the deceased, Billy Chin. Well Kind of. Charley felt shame and remorse in not having been a better friend after having graduated from prep school and life getting in the way...but more so in not identifying nor taking action regarding his friend's ultimate demise.
The Grievers was like watching a comedic train wreck. A miniature Theater of the Absurd. Mr. Schuster wove together the interestingly obtuse into a coherent and redemptive storyline that was a pure joy to read (and I don't use the word "joy" much!). I enjoyed his words, their combination, their execution. The Grievers is controlled dysfunction. Keeping life safe and at arm's length. Everything is a joke to Charley Schwartz until he embarks on his own form of revisionist history with the deceased. Yet, the book is not so much about all the individual events, not even anthropomorphic dollar signs...it's about what it is to be human.
To err is human, to forgive is human, to GROW is human.
And if Charley's anything...he's definitely human.
The ending is geuinely moving, and terrifically well written. It has a coming-of-age aspect which strikes a deep chord in the way that we are encouraged to behave from school and into adulthood. I can really see this book making a good film at some stage.
I'd highly recommend it.
The Permanent Press, 176 pgs
The Grievers by Marc Schuster is a short novel about how a group of friends responds to the suicide of one of their own. And it's much funnier than it sounds. Our protagonist is Charley Schwartz, one of a group of men who attended the same exclusive private high school in Philadelphia. They are a diverse lot. Charley has a master's in English but currently impersonates a dollar sign on a sidewalk fronting a bank. Neil is a lawyer and Charley's best friend and surrogate parental figure. Greg lives with his mother, trolls for women online and is insane. Dwayne is a cop. Sean is a social worker who sells Volkswagens on weekends. Anthony is a producer and director of improbable musicals (Hogan's Heroes.) Billy Chin was a pharmacist and then he jumped off a bridge.
The group gets together and decides to make a donation to their old school's scholarship fund in Billy's name. This is a fantastic idea, yes? Then the marketing department at the school hijacks the idea and turns Billy's death into an excuse to put together a Billy Chin Festival, masquerading as a memorial service.
The Grievers follows Charley as he attempts to come to terms with Billy's suicide and the spectacle of fundraising it has inspired, as well as the questions it poses for Charley's future. He knows it's past time to grow up, to drop the cynical facade, square his shoulders, and take the risks necessary to build a satisfying adult life. This is my favorite line: "Because living and dying walk hand in hand, and the alternative to both is neither - cold as a stone, unchanging and lifeless."
Is it too late for redemption?
For more of Marc Schuster: [...]
For the publisher: [...]
A satisfying story on many different levels, The Grievers starts with a phone call from Billy's mother, telling Charley his old school friend has killed himself. Meanwhile Charley is killing his hopes and his marriage with neglect. And "working at a bank" means dressing in a shiny foam dollar sign to wave at drivers from the grass.
If you think this sounds depressing, you just have to wait for Charley to lose his footing when the sprinklers come on. Or listen to his friend quote Marx brothers movies. Or ride along on a failed intervention when another friend falls off the rails. Comedy travels hand in hand with tragedy in this novel, neither any further away than the next page, but both singing in tune.
In soaps the dead can rise again, saved by mistaken identity. In real life, true identity might be revealed in the mourning process. Billy's death just might help Charley finally recognize himself. And the Henry Avenue Bridge in Philadelphia might reveal a different view when Charley learns to follow the road.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the Permanent Press in exchange for my honest review.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book. It was entertaining, kept me engaged, and made me ponder deeply. A story that takes you by surprise delivering much more than you expected, with humor, insight,... Read morePublished on April 18, 2013 by Maria Diaz
Would I have walked right past this book in a shop giving it nary a second thought, assuming it to be another (oh dear lord, yet another) Twilight book? Yes. Read morePublished on June 18, 2012 by Jenny Whiteman
nothing makes happier than when i find myself laughing out loud at a book, and the charactors in this story did!! Read morePublished on May 25, 2012 by gina henning
Charley Schwartz, the man inside the dollar bill costume, has nothing going for him at all when he receives the sad news that an old school friend has committed suicide. Read morePublished on May 21, 2012 by Shannon Pease