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Huge: A Novel by [Fuerst, James]
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Huge: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his mind's eye, precocious 12-year-old Eugene Huge Smalls, the narrator of Fuerst's quirky debut, is the lineal descendant of Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and other pulp detectives he admires. When the nursing home where his beloved grandmother stays is vandalized, Huge sees a chance to follow in their footsteps by solving the crime. What follows is a picaresque romp around suburban New Jersey as Huge misreads clues, misinterprets motives and mistakes mundane incidents for diabolical schemes as only an inexperienced adolescent with a restless imagination can. Largely plotless, this coming-of-age story is full of awkward digressions. Still, Fuerst demonstrates a sensitive ear for contemporary teen talk, delicacy at handling the amusingly contentious relationship between Huge and his older sister and mom, and skill at conveying a child's-eye view of the world that is full of nostalgia, humor, candor and emotions that all readers can relate to. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Eugene Huge Smalls is a short, smart, blond going-on-13 outcast with anger-management issues, a stuffed-frog alter ego, a homemade tricked-out ride called the Cruiser, and a Philip Marlowe attitude. What Huge lacks in stature is made up for by his intense emotional reactions and overactive imagination. He lives in a boring small town in 1980s New Jersey where his father has abandoned him, his waitress mother, and his hot older sister to fend for themselves. While on a visit with his dearly beloved and somewhat senile grandmother at a retirement home, she hires him to solve his first real detective case. As he gathers clues, he tells about his past transgressions and feelings, a lost friendship, and various crushes and clashes including those involving retirement-home workers, his sister's friends, and a special girl his own age. Huge's coming-of-age musings seem mature for a sixth grader, yet these contemplations and Fuerst's portrayals of teenage relationships and experiences will resonate with older readers. Using humor and a narrative similar to Raymond Chandler's hardboiled detective novels of the 1940s, Fuerst entertains and draws readers into all the mysteries Huge tries to solve on his own, including those involving self-control, fantasy, friendship, and maturity.–Melanie Parsons, Fairfax County Public Library, VA END

Product Details

  • File Size: 725 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (June 17, 2009)
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,278 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. W. Kennedy on September 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The story is set in a middle-sized New Jersey town in the mid 1980s. Eugene Smalls is called "Genie" by everybody but he wants to be called "Huge." He isn't huge though. He's small. He's 12 years old (almost 13.) He is smarter than everyone around him, but he has trouble expressing himself, and other people's stupidity makes him furious. He lashes out violently, and has been branded a "problem child." During a long suspension from school (sometime before the novel starts,) he read a lot of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Sherlock Holmes. He also built a totally sweet bike out of spare parts. Summer is ending, Huge is going to be going to Junior High in the fall, and this is when our story unfolds. It is told in a semi-noir manner, in first person with lots of introspective flashbacks and sidetracks.

His senile grandmother (who gave him all the detective books) hires Huge to solve the mystery of the vandalized sign at the retirement home, and he gradually uncovers a tangled web of treachery and deceit among the kids in his town. Or does he? Huge may be freakishly smart, but he's still a kid. He misses a lot. Plus, he has a sidekick named Thrash (given to him by his guidance councilor) who tends not to give Huge the best advice...

The language of this book is vulgar but funny. Some of the vernacular sounds more like 2000s than 1980s. I don't remember kids talking like that when I was in 6th grade back in 1986, but I didn't grow up in New Jersey. Huge himself is so furious, so off-kilter, and so full of hard-boiled detective fiction, that for the first third of the book I kept picturing him as a grizzled 40-year-old midget instead of a kid. His dialogue and thought processes are hilarious yet incisive.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy Huge, the debut novel by James W. Fuerst. But I did. I liked it for many reasons:

1. The raw honesty shown in Genie's internal conversations. While there are moments that it becomes a bit tedious, it was interesting to follow the churnings within the protagonist's psyche. Even more interesting was the relationship with his "friend" Thrash, the frog. In the beginning, I almost thought it was going to go the way of Donnie Darko, but that's not how it resolved. I enjoyed reading about how Genie worked through how to behave, even if it ended in his losing complete control. I wonder how biographical this is.

2. The apt handling of lower-middle-class N.J. shore town dynamics (which actually could be applied to many N.J. suburbs). As someone who grew up in the N.J. 'burbs, I recognized so much of the story. It felt as if Fuerst wrote about people I knew and places I had been (perhaps he had). Pecking orders exist everywhere, it's true. However, it was easy to grasp the very real struggles Genie has with social situations ever-present in teen angst (talking to girls, sports teams, bullies, etc.).

3. The element of a detective novel (albeit gone terribly awry). Genie's relationship with his grandmother and her influence on him leads him to imagine terrific (and terrible) scenarios regarding the wrong done to her retirement home. In this part of the book there are some unresolved elements, which appear to point to a follow-up.

An additional item left up in the air is his relationship with Orlando, a fellow student. I wish there had been more character and plot development as well as resolution with that portion of the story.

Finally, I'm not convinced that the ending is quite finished. It seemed a bit too tidied up, especially after all that internal wrangling during the rest of the book. However, I would be interested to see what Fuerst comes up with next.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At first I wasn't sure if this was a YA book or an adult title. Genie, who prefers to be called "Huge" despite the fact that he is rather small, at times speaks likes an adult, largely due to the steady diet of hard-boiled detective novels that his grandmother gives him. When we enter the scene, Huge is given a "case" by his grandmother when her retirement home is defaced with graffiti. He is determined to find out who did it. He rides his tricked-out bike around the neighborhood in search of clues and evidence.

His simple quest is complicated by several things: his pushy sister who he suspects is heading the wrong direction in her life; his single parent mother who tends bar in the evenings; his attraction to a precocious girl in his class; older boys who would gladly pummel him without provocation, a lack of friends. Because of behavior problems and past episodes of acting out Huge is on notice and the adults around him only see a kid with issues.

As the story unfurls we are taken on a journey which on the surface seems straight-forward, but ends up with some twists and turns. It eventually becomes clear that this really is an adult novel that focuses on a young boy, and I wouldn't recommend the book for kids younger than advanced high school. While it isn't a perfect book, the pacing could have been tightened and the story line could have stood some streamlining, I enjoyed it and found myself staying up late to finish the book as it all fell into place at the end.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Huge", by James Fuerst, is a very promising and enjoyable first (or, to dispose of the obvious pun right away, "Fuerst") novel. Constructed as a first-person-narrator detective novel, it both parodies and pays fond tribute to that genre. In fact, once while reading "Huge", I actually found my mind's ear supplying the narrator with the voice of Garrison Keillor as "Guy Noir, Private Eye", for which I gave the author a check mark of approval in my own mental detective's notebook.

Except that, unlike Guy Noir, our detective hero here, Eugene "Huge" Smalls, is a twelve-year-old kid, almost thirteen, just heading into junior high school. That, of course, suggests quite another set of classic books along the lines of The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. Huge -- he is always quick to correct anyone who calls him "Genie" -- is an avid reader of detective fiction including Dashiell Hammett, and has also of course read all of those well-known kid-detective books himself, and in the narration he shares his quite frank opinions of both their strengths and "lame"-ness with the reader as he goes about his own case investigation.

Huge admits to himself (and to the reader) that the crime he is tasked to investigate -- some vandalism at his grandmother's retirement home -- is the sort of minor-league stuff that could be right out of a Hardy Boys novel, but takes the attitude that he has to start somewhere. But for the reader, the real story is not the crime and its detection, but Huge himself.
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