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Hyperbole: A Novel Paperback – November 1, 2012
About the Author
Ryan Parmenter began writing in elementary school, to begrudgingly fulfill the required daily journal quotas. A typical conclusion to an entry read: “There, 3/4 of a page. Are you happy?” In high school Ryan began recording music using MIDI sequencing, as well as performing in his high school's annual Pop Concerts. He released his first solo album, “Helvetica” under his initials RCP, at age 17. As he graduated from the University of Michigan with an English degree (which degrees, he likes to joke, can be found on rolls next to the toilet), he began musical jamming with friends, which led to the founding of the progressive band Eyestrings. Eyestrings played Metro Detroit venues and found some fans in the eastern United States, playing the first Rites of Spring festival in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in 2005, and twice playing Orion Studios in Baltimore, Maryland. Eyestrings released the albums “Burdened Hands” (2004) and “Consumption” (2005). The band broke up and Ryan turned back to prose, completing his first (and yet unpublished) novel “Hole Filler” in 2007. Ryan released the solo albums “The Noble Knave” (2006) and “Sad Men” (2009). He joined the Second City improvisation training program, graduating from the Second City Conservatory program in 2009 along with the woman who would become his wife. Ryan performed as an improviser and wrote and performed in original stage shows, including the bizarre variety show “Shim & D’rothy” (2009, again with his future wife) and the one-man character revue, “Jerks” (2011) at Go Comedy in Ferndale, Michigan. He has played live music as part of the trio JRS since 2010. Ryan also wrote the musical score for the satirical “RoboCop: The Musical,” which had two successful runs at Go Comedy. In 2010, Ryan began writing what became “Hyperbole,” a novel exploring themes such as terrorism, divorce, suicide, meaningless employment, relationship fidelity, and happiness. He e-published the novel in 2012 along with a 7-song album, “Hyperbole: The Original Novel Soundtrack,” based upon song titles mentioned throughout the novel. Ryan then produced and recorded the audiobook version of the novel. In 2013, “Hyperbole” got its first print release under the imprint Rype, along with the audiobook and e-book.
Top customer reviews
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I started off expecting fun and games and ended up drowning in the main character's world as he sees it. It may not be for everyone since the atmosphere emerging from the character's thoughts is so powerful in its sarcasm and cynicism that you may wish to stop reading simply to re-arrange your own thoughts about your own life and fervently identify which is yours and which belong to Harland.
The element of alternative history was a pleasant surprise and the world it build around it sparked with credibility and veracity, speaking for our own world tons.
And all the while I found myself wondering if all of it was nothing more than Harland's imagination or subconscious dream world.
I repeat, this may not be for everyone. It has violence, some sex, a lot of drinking and smoking (the bong type), but none of these elements are why I say this may not be for everyone.
The mood is dark. It is funny like a dark comedy, but still, dark. You will feel sad, hopeless, depressed and forced into cynical introspection.
The plot moved beyond it's promised pace. I think my expectations played a big part here. I didn't expect the plot to go to many places or actually have a sturdy structure. I was lulled into compliance and a sense of 'safety' for the first few chapters, curious about Harland, entertained by his imagination, convinced I was deep inside his psyche and content with it's entertaining value. Then at a steady, proper pace, the story emerges, plot building itself up and I didn't even notice. There's mysteries everywhere that demand to be solved and questions you ask that when answered, bring forth even more questions.
It was a smooth ride for me. Meaning that I cared about Harland and Rena without forcing myself to. The story evolved and unfolded at optimum velocity. It was smooth because never once have I questioned the veracity or logic of something. I may have speculated about some things but that only deepened my experience. I was there. It was happening. I felt what Harland felt and his thoughts infected mine even when I wasn't reading. Such level of immersion is rare and so powerful.
Great read. One I'll probably re-read a year from now because I am pretty sure I'll have a new take on it and I can't wait to see what Future Me will think about it.
I recommend it. You'll look at your life differently because of it.
If Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and, on a lesser sense, David Sedaris would somehow have a threesome, then Ryan Parmenter would be the literary offspring: his brand of humor would remind you of the other greats, but you staggeringly recognize Parmenter’s distinction. This is most powerful in ‘Hyperbole’—who knew some huge catastrophe could provide a setting for a terrible, yet powerful “looking glass” for humanity—one in which we can see our follies and, if we’re smart and self-aware, laugh at them, too. If we are honest, we’d admit to being able to deeply relate with, for example, Harland—but then again, the book is populated with a motley crew of characters who, in many ways, served as compelling “vehicles” for Parmenter’s satire.
Overall, my only regret with ‘Hyperbole’ is I would have loved it to continue endlessly, so that I’d have something to look forward to reading as I start my day. Parmenter’s comic genius lies not in the obvious, but in the interstices of the pedestrian and absurd, which makes his own brand of literature much more effective in leaving our jaws on the floor. If there’s any book you’re thinking of reading today, make it this book—and prepare to be bowled over. A solid five-star rating for this one.
There is much absurdity in the vivid details of the world surrounding the characters. (Though who's to say what will be considered absurd in the not-too-distant future?) The setting is painted as a smarter, darker, and much more distasteful version of the movie Idiocracy. Nobody in the novel is an idiot by any means. In the wake of a game-changing disaster, however, numerous previously-important social mores would become almost non-existent. This aspect gifts to the readers, for example, the hilariously offensive titles of hit songs playing throughout the timeline. (In a genius move, Parmenter has also released a music soundtrack to the novel. I recommend listening to it before reading, as it helps to further immerse the reader into the book's twisted world.)
The characters are colorful, relatable, vibrantly-described, and have undeniably close friendships with each other. Sometimes, as with the curmudgeonly self-loathing Harland, his thoughts and actions aren't those that we might be particularly proud of relating to. There is, however, in his character, a sense of frustrated self-realization; it's honest. Parmenter's not concerned with presenting the prettiest image of ourselves through these folks, but with presenting the true drive underneath it all, and the drive to go through these situations together. This reveals an attractiveness and humor that's much more sincere, even when things are at their most repugnant. It's a rare thing to be reading about a decimated world and to have fleeting thoughts about how you'd like to be a part of the journey.
Hyperbole is consistently hilarious and disturbing, sometimes harrowingly so, and often simultaneously, but at its core are very real characters, characters who care about each other and who are dealing with their lives as we all do. During a major catastrophe, the human spirit perseveres, even if that spirit is still complaining about its job, getting high, joking around with friends, and being mischievous.
This is a book that is absolutely worth multiple reads.