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The Opposite of Everything Paperback – March 11, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Meet David Kalish, whose exuberant, hilarious first novel uncovers the light side of divorce, cancer, and computer dating. Sharp-tongued yet warm-hearted, Mr. Kalish shows us that the opposite of everything we know is exactly what we've needed to learn." --Askold Melnyczuk, The House of Widows, Ambassador of the Dead; founding editor, Agni Magazine

"The Opposite of Everything is an evocative tale of pre-hipster Brooklyn in which Mr. Kalish injects his pitch-perfect humor into some of the most challenging quandaries a career-focused New Yorker can face. His oddball characters mix in a clash of cultures between native New Yorkers and the immigrants who infuse the city, and the book s central character, with new life." --Gerry Mullany, deputy editor, The New York Times

"Kalish knows these people intimately, and he tells their tale with heart, grace, and a journalist's clear eye." --Will Hermes, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

About the Author

David Kalish earned his MFA at Bennington College. His short fiction has been published in Temenos, Knock, Spectrum, and Poydras Review, his non-fiction in the Writer's Chronicle, and a short film of his, Regular Guy, won honors in film festivals here and abroad. Before Bennington, he was an editor and reporter at The Associated Press, and his articles have appeared in major newspapers. He is currently working on a second novel and on a theatre script for a Latin version of A Christmas Carol. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and two canaries.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: WiDo Publishing (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937178439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937178437
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sorry, I tried hard to like it, but by the mid-point, I just didn't care what happened to him or his new wife or anyone else. There's a thing about most "modern" novels, and that is that they feel contrived. There are very, very few contemporary writers of depth and class.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As an elementary school teacher, the title of this book is what first caught my eye. Anyone who has spent any time with kids has experienced the giggling proclamation “Its Opposite Day! Yes means No!” David Kalish takes this idea to a new extreme by giving us the life of Daniel Plotnick.

Plotnick is your average newly wed 30-something with a steady job, rent, bills and a fairly mediocre life. One day a literal lump in his throat sends him to the doctor where he is diagnosed with cancer. Don’t worry; it’s the good kind, well, until it’s not. As he copes with his diagnosis, his wife begins trying all kinds of dietary cleanses on him to fight the cancer. When he finds her sneaking Hagen Daz in the kitchen, he realizes some things need to change. Later, reflecting on his scans, he decides that the world is full of positive and negative, matter and anti matter. Since the matter hasn’t been kind, he decides to embrace anti – matter. He decides to do the opposite of everything he’s ever done.

Cue the funny parts. Like Job, Plotnick can’t seem to get a break. His divorce involves a call to the police. His dad’s “help” to get him back to the singles scene involves senior citizens, “old fart” music and ends in a dive off the George Washington Bridge (where Plotnick is luckily saved by his new nose ring getting stuck in a net). His telephone lineman by day/bartender by night friend sets him up on a series of forgettable dates that occur on three consecutive Fridays at the same Chinese restaurant. Kalish describes the meetings as “test-driving Fords across the worn and weathered rim of the Great Wall of China.”

Eventually his luck turns around when he meets a woman through the internet.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, an interesting idea for a story that is funny and relevant for many readers. The book is about a man who is diagnosed with cancer which seems like a heavy topic, and while it is, the story doesn't focus on the cancer. The focus is on the man's reaction to the diagnosis and his efforts to take control of his life. How can this be funny? I don't want to give that away - but it is the opposite of what you expect.

The book started out strong. I was hooked and engaged by Chapter 2. Then it sort of breaks form as the main voice switches to the father. I didn't like this at all. I guess I just didn't like the father or his perspective and was more interested in the main character. Plus, there are only a few chapters told from a different character's perspective, so am not sure why the author chose to do this.

Another thing that was distracting was the inconsistent time line. There were huge gaps in time that went unexplained, and then focus on specific moments. Because the timeline was haphazardly addressed, I felt a little lost as to where we were in the character's life.

In the end, I was not sure what this book was about. Is it a story about cancer? About living life to its fullest? Or is it a metaphor for being brave enough to take chances? It could be the author's intention to leave the message open ended to create connectivity to the story. However, I have not yet been touched by cancer, so I was confused about what I should take with me from the story.

The four stars is for the writing, the character development, the humor, and the length of the book. It's a quick read and well worth it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING is an amusing book. It features a bumbling, self-centered, elderly Lothario who listens to seventies disco music; a thirty-something business journalist who copes with his bad health by going Goth; a clever slap-stick wedding; and the hilarious relentlessness of a couple determined to time the woman’s ovulation perfectly and become pregnant. Not bad for a novel whose driving force is a slow-growing thyroid cancer.

OPPOSITE is basically a three-character novel. These characters are: Sonia Cruz, a randy and empowering immigrant doctor who wants to explore practical solutions to her husband’s cancer; Dan Plotnick, a neurotic drawn to extreme solutions, including the coping strategy of doing the opposite; and Harold Plotnick, Dan’s goofy divorced dad, whose busy social life leaves no time for his sick and resentful son. Using these characters, David Kalish develops a comic narrative about stress and, finally, mettle, that reaches from the Catskills to Brooklyn to Florida as Dan, with Sonia’s help, learns how to manage his life.

OPPOSITE is not a perfect book. There is repetition when Dan reads at a literary event. The ovulation stuff is funny but, well, frenetic and not the way a doctor would think. And the opposite-of-everything conceit doesn’t always work. Regardless, this is a fast and often funny read and recommended, especially for those with an antic sense of humor
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