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Shovel Ready: A Spademan Novel by [Sternbergh, Adam]
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Shovel Ready: A Spademan Novel Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in A Spademan (2 Book Series)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kelly Braffet on Shovel Ready

Kelly Braffet

Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels Save Yourself, Last Seen Leaving and Josie and Jack. Her writing has been published in the Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and in several anthologies, as well as on Salon.com. Being published on Salon is kind of the writing equivalent of a guest role on Law & Order, but hot damn, she'll take that. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, and she currently lives in upstate New York. Although people from Buffalo laugh at her when she says that, so maybe she should more correctly claim that she lives in relatively-upstate New York. Look, it's upstate from Brooklyn, okay? She is married to the tall and immensely talented Owen King, who is also an author. He's dreamy.

You, reader: you’re like me. You love a good story. You love slipping into another world, feeling its reality swell under you and carry you off. And you’ve read it all, right? You’re up on and down with the latest genre-benders, the crime novels and the sci-fi and the cyber-thrillers. You know the first-date thrill of picking up an unread novel for the first time, that sweet frisson of hope. You know the hyperbolic jacket copy, the gorgeous cover. And you know the disappointment. The bitter, bitter disappointment. Nothing new under the sun? Ha. Sometimes, things out there feel downright mummified.

Weary traveler on the sun-burnt plains of fiction, I give you Shovel Ready.

It’s a neo-noir about a garbage-man-turned-hit-man. It’s also post-apocalyptic. Not, like, crazy-mohawk-guy, well-accessorized Mad Max apocalyptic: near-future apocalyptic. Entirely-too-plausible apocalyptic. Scary apocalyptic. It’s set in a New York City, where the cabs are still kind of running and the mayor is still holding press conferences, but everybody knows things are over. All the rich people have disappeared into a luxurious virtual reality. Not Spademan, though. Not our hero. Before things fell apart he worked in sanitation, and he’s still cleaning up other people’s messes. And, yeah, he’s got a few messes of his own, and, yeah, eventually he’s hired for a job that’s a little too complicated to sweep under the rug with the other dirt. But this is a novel of facades over facades. Those plot twists that you think you know—you don’t. Sternbergh’s prose is razor-sharp and heartfelt and brutal all at the same time, and he twists those facades inside and out and back onto themselves with origami precision.

So go ahead. Read that jacket copy. Admire that gorgeous cover.

I promise: it’s safe this time.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It’s been a banner year for debut thrillers. Last February, we were treated to Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman, about a thief who specializes in making all traces of his capers disappear. Now, not quite a year later, we have another galvanizing thriller boasting an equally unique premise and another compelling, antiheroic protagonist on the wrong side of the law—though the concepts of right and wrong, law and lawless, have little meaning in the world of Shovel Ready. Yes, the novel falls under the postapocalyptic umbrella—Times Square has been hit by a dirty bomb, and Manhattan has become an eerie demilitarized zone—but Sternbergh is not merely re-creating The Road or any of the countless other novels that posit what happens after the bomb. Spademan was a garbage man before Manhattan was nuked. Now he has a new job: a hit man for hire (have box cutter, will use it) walking the city’s desolate streets. Those streets have become desolate for a very peculiar reason. While Central Park is a twenty-first-century Hooverville, home to the dislocated poor, the rich have taken to their beds but not just any beds: these special contraptions connect their inhabitants to the “limnosphere,” a new kind of Internet that allows its users to construct their own virtual world and live there permanently. When Spademan agrees to kill the daughter of a famous televangelist but then falls in love with her instead, he attempts to transform himself from hit man to avenging angel, which requires some dexterous jumping from postapocalyptic reality to limnosphere (have box cutter, will time travel). Like Nick Harkaway in Angelmaker (2012), Sternbergh, culture editor for the New York Times Magazine, combines stunning narrative sleight-of-hand with an ability to create flesh-and-blood characters who bring humor and a resilient humanity to their torn-asunder world. Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about over the next few months. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Extensive online and social-media promotion will combine with mainstream marketing to set this debut on its way. Oh, and that movie deal with Warner Brothers won’t hurt, either. --Bill Ott

Product details

  • File Size: 1796 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (January 14, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 14, 2014
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E2RYUAS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,171 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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