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Odds Against Tomorrow: A Novel Hardcover – April 2, 2013
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--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered
"Let's just, right away, recognize how prescient this charming, terrifying, comic novel of apocalyptic manners is...Rich is a gifted caricaturist and a gifted apocalyptist. His descriptions of the vagaries of both nature and human nature are stark, fresh, and convincing, full of surprise and recognition as both good comedy and good terror must be."
"Scarily prescient and wholly original."
"This literary thriller is blessed with a propulsive plot, macabre humor, several richly developed characters, and serious ethical and philosophical issues, all lightly clothed in skillful writing. Highly recommended."
“A brilliantly told novel, by turns terrifying, touching, and wildly funny.” ―Stephen King on The Mayor’s Tongue
“An author who could well become one of the defining writers of his generation.” ―The Sunday Telegraph on The Mayor’s Tongue
“A spare masterpiece.” ―The Boston Globe on The Mayor’s Tongue
Top Customer Reviews
Mitchell has a clear and constant feeling of dread concerning the different scenarios that can occur to the globe and the human race. And he has quite specific statistics concerning their liklihood. To make this problem more personal to him, he has a quasi-relationship with a woman who has a heart condition that likewise can lose her life at any minute. The whole situation imparts feelings of cockroaches climbing his stomach. He is miserable and working as a nobody in insurance trying to determine indemnity for his bosses.
Comes the day, he goes to work for FutureWorld, selling calamity scenarios, and is a rising star. This book is darkly humorous, sly, and compelling. It probably is not for the naturally fearful reader, but it is definitely for everyone else. The sheer litany of eminent disasters becomes numbing in its utter terror. The characters shuttling to make financial gain in betting on probability of such events and attempting to avoid financial obligation or better yet gain, are familiar to our television screen as they pontificate on their own innocence.
This book is hopefully, partially science fiction. An event does occur that brings the process to a focus. I will not discuss it to avoid spoiler issues.Read more ›
This book is not like that. It's not a punchline: it's a real novel. It's not predictable. It's not apocalyptic. It feels more and more convincing, real, and grounded with each page. The writing is light, crisp and exact, like a stone skipping over water, but look close, and you will see a depth of erudition and true feeling.
The three-part structure of Nathaniel Rich's novel, as well as its ambition and technique, remind me of Don DeLillo's "White Noise." In that book, when disaster came, things got surreal, and the narrative twisted through a maze of mental mirrors. The book was virtuosic, but rang hollow: false comfort that the disaster will be mainly in our heads.
A quarter century later, we can no longer afford to believe that. While flirting with narrative voice and a touch of formalist symmetry, "Odds Against Tomorrow" commits to and remains faithful to realism. The characters deepen, and the landscape broadens, as the plot accelerates, and the suspense mounts. Finally comes a single page of surprising, sweet, piercing emotional impact. A moral is stated succinctly. The book ends.
It worked in the nineteenth century, and it works again in the twenty first, now that we've buried both Ronald Reagan and David Foster Wallace, and prefer to peer out from inside our heads at the world.
Rich examines the question: so what comes after the impending semi-apocalypse? Is the tree-hugger mentality preferable to the corporate mentality? Post capitalism, how might one thrive? Part of his answer comes from a quote by David Goodis. "There is no such thing as courage. There's only fear. A fear of getting hurt and a fear of dying. That's why the human race has lasted so long." And part of his answer comes in the passage that begins, "...disorder always won in the end. The idea that man could order the world to his own design was the most pitiful fairy tale ever told."
Along the way I enjoyed powerful images Rich turned up, a smooth writing style that flowed from beginning to end and a page-turning story I did not want to end. As dystopian tales go, this one held at least a bit more hope than some. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone thoughtful enough to entertain the notion that something's rotten in Denmark.
Occurring in a realistic near future, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW takes place against a backdrop of escalating catastrophe - earthquakes, droughts, and coastal flooding. Mr. Rich deserves much praise for his commitment to large scale realism. We see our climate changing, and a heavy foreboding bleeds into all of us who see truth in the prophecies. So when a Category 3 hurricane bears down on Manhattan, everything rings true. But this is a novel, and novels are generally stories about characters. And this is where Nathaniel Rich's levee breaks.
Our hero, Mitchell, is an apocalyptist - an obsessive quant devoted to figuring out all the ways the sky will fall and selling those predictions to the deep-pocketed interests. It's a unique idea, semi-plausible and intriguing, but the man behind the predictions is a shadow, not a person. What motivates Mitchell and what defines his inner life seem half-sketched and pat. He is the center of the story, yet he remains out of reach. The other main character, Jane, is even more forgettable. One tragic use of dialogue occurs when Jane utters the phrase "This is preposterous." Really take a moment to think about when you heard someone in the 21st Century emit those words into reality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The novel presents an interesting idea; someone whose job consists in imagining worst-case scenarios for companies, making a ton of money at it (a realistic enough scenario) who... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Marcia Klotz
Odds Against Tomorrow was a fun read. Everything was a bit on the ridiculous side of things which made it really enjoyable. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jen R
I preferred the first part of the story more than the end, but that is mostly because I find the early version of the protagonist relateable.Published 4 months ago by Sierra
For all of the hype, I was expecting more. Okay and I liked the themes, but there was not much here beyond the conceit. You'd be better off with "U.S.! Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tom Triumph
Loved it, and am recommending it to all my friends. Read it through a neighborhood public library book club, and let me tell you, this is one tough bunch of readers. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Joyce W. Dugan
It passed the time. If you're looking for anything on true disaster response or recovery....look elsewhere. Research appears sparse.Published 12 months ago by Phillip Avery
This started out promising, but then kind of petered out, for me at least. There was a lot of repetitive description and I thought the end was unsatisfactory. Read morePublished 17 months ago by bythecshore
Quirky characters and wit begin the novel. Fun to read, but the end becomes too didactic and loses the witty flavor. Still a good read and worth the time.Published 18 months ago by Sharon L. Austin