Hot Best Seller

Among the Ten Thousand Things PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

Among the Ten Thousand Things

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: Among the Ten Thousand Things .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


Among the Ten Thousand Things PDF, ePub eBook For fans of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Among the Ten Thousand Things is a dazzling first novel, a portrait of an American family on the cusp of irrevocable change, and a startlingly original story of love and time lost.   Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into cri For fans of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Among the Ten Thousand Things is a dazzling first novel, a portrait of an American family on the cusp of irrevocable change, and a startlingly original story of love and time lost.   Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into crisis. His wife, Deb, gladly left behind a difficult career as a dancer to raise the two children she adores. In the ensuing years, she has mostly avoided coming face-to-face with the weaknesses of the man she married. But then an anonymously sent package arrives in the mail: a cardboard box containing sheaves of printed emails chronicling Jack’s secret life. The package is addressed to Deb, but it’s delivered into the wrong hands: her children’s.   With this vertiginous opening begins a debut that is by turns funny, wise, and indescribably moving. As the Shanleys spin apart into separate orbits, leaving New York in an attempt to regain their bearings, fifteen-year-old Simon feels the allure of adult freedoms for the first time, while eleven-year-old Kay wanders precariously into a grown-up world she can’t possibly understand. Writing with extraordinary precision, humor, and beauty, Julia Pierpont has crafted a timeless, hugely enjoyable novel about the bonds of family life—their brittleness, and their resilience.

30 review for Among the Ten Thousand Things

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cian O hAnnrachainn

    Julia Pierpont is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program. That is all you need to know. It explains a great deal. She was a Rona Jaffee Foundation Graduate Fellow. She was a Stein Fellow. She has won awards for her writing. So she must be a brilliant writer, yes? Literary agents went looking for her. AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS is her work of debut fiction. The prose is, indeed, very pretty. The sentences are well crafted. The paragraphs sing with the rhythm of syllables and pauses. Agent Julia Pierpont is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program. That is all you need to know. It explains a great deal. She was a Rona Jaffee Foundation Graduate Fellow. She was a Stein Fellow. She has won awards for her writing. So she must be a brilliant writer, yes? Literary agents went looking for her. AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS is her work of debut fiction. The prose is, indeed, very pretty. The sentences are well crafted. The paragraphs sing with the rhythm of syllables and pauses. Agent Elyse Cheney sold the book to Random House (which provided the review copy in use here) for six figures. Clearly the publishing industry expects big things from Julia Pierpont. What is the novel about? The blurbs will tell you it is the story of a marriage falling apart. As a reader, I will tell you it is a narrative of New York City whingers. Ah Christ, the angst and the mental suffering. Everyone in the novel is so in tune to themselves that a reader cannot like them. Unless you are part of the New York City whinging crowd, in which case you'll find their portrayals brilliant. Did I mention that the prose is lovely? It's a beautifully written novel. The problem comes in the entertainment factor. There isn't much storytelling to speak of. So we have Deb and Jack and their two teenage cartoon children. He's a serial adulterer and she's a failed ballerina who found herself up the stick and Jack did the right thing. The children do and say what stereotypical teens do and say. They're as self-centered as their parents, and equally dull. Jack's latest piece on the side sends Deb a litany of sexting and assorted emails and the daughter reads it and then the son and then Deb and then Jack's art installation goes bad and the marriage is just falling apart. Then we get to the middle of the novel and the author shifts to "too cute by half" mode with a series of staccato sentences that reveal the fates of the characters. Well, so, no need to read the rest when you know what's going to happen and when the daughter runs away from home you know she'll be found because the author told us earlier so you flip through to see if anything important happens but it doesn't. The whinging carries on to the end. You read a book and wonder how such shite gets published. The publishers are pursuing students of creative writing who write about people like those in the publishing industry, characters that the publishing industry can relate to. The rest of us, the common readers, are supposed to see the brilliance, or be considered Philistines who don't know good literature when it smacks them in the face. So I must be a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal because I found nothing to like about this novel. The writing is there. But it isn't enough to make a full-length novel. Tell me a story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    A strange, great, oddly structured book; a lovely surprise. The set-up (a child opens a box of letters sent to her mother that turns out to be from her father’s lover) is excellent and as the inevitable, spiraling fallout ensues, Pierpont uses her 4 leads generously, spending time in the heads of each of the Shanleys: Jack, Deb, and their children Simon and Kay. Each character is given their star moments—Kay and her marvelous Seinfeld fan fiction; Jack and his epic road trip to visit his parents A strange, great, oddly structured book; a lovely surprise. The set-up (a child opens a box of letters sent to her mother that turns out to be from her father’s lover) is excellent and as the inevitable, spiraling fallout ensues, Pierpont uses her 4 leads generously, spending time in the heads of each of the Shanleys: Jack, Deb, and their children Simon and Kay. Each character is given their star moments—Kay and her marvelous Seinfeld fan fiction; Jack and his epic road trip to visit his parents (Jack reminds me of an Iris Murdoch protagonist, he does bad things and is generally bumbling and yet we find ourselves caring about him); Deb and her tentative flirtation with a family friend, Gary; Simon and his videogames, his teenage anger. The action builds toward a few big crescendos - one, the artist Jack’s show going wrong, will stick with me for a long time - and I read the novel quickly, happily. I almost had to slow down to notice how the individual lines sing: “There were things you learned early, growing up in the city, and there were things you learned late, or not at all.” “Women were the real workers of the family; men got to be allies to their children” “Whenever he rode out the country station’s range, the radio would start to autoscan, searching for stronger signals. Spanish talk scrambled with Chopin scrambled with Evangelical preacher people for miles. Sometimes the poor radio couldn’t find anything. Some places, nothing was out there.” One could do this on almost any page. As mentioned, the book has an interesting, unusual structure, one that I interpreted differently than many of the reviews on here. There’s an eleven page sequence on pages 137-148 that flashes forward (“The end is never a surprise. People say, Don’t tell me, Don’t spoil it, and then later they say, If only I’d known.”) I did not read this as a spoiler, necessary, but as a possible future, a way to color the action of the second half of novel with emotion and dread. I admired this decision, as I did the canny move to return to this form at the end of the novel, to fill in some of the gaps of the initial sequence with a new emotion, to suggest the possibility for change. One more thing. I don’t do this often, but some of the top 5 G.R. critics of this book are critiquing context, the author's background, and not the book itself. And I can’t help but say it– I never see men being attacked for their MFA background or their excellent blurbs. What a shame that these factors, totally outside her control, distracted these readers from AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS. Pierpont is an outstanding, exemplary practitioner of craft. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    One common critique you can find on GR, or anywhere else where book reviews appear, is that a given book is symbolic of some kind of national scourge of MFA programs and the often attractive and privileged young authors who inhabit them. This critique is applied to such a diversity of books that it's essentially meaningless, but if there is any common thread of meaning, it's probably that the book is somehow soulless: showy and adept on the surface, shallow and superficial at core, a vehicle of One common critique you can find on GR, or anywhere else where book reviews appear, is that a given book is symbolic of some kind of national scourge of MFA programs and the often attractive and privileged young authors who inhabit them. This critique is applied to such a diversity of books that it's essentially meaningless, but if there is any common thread of meaning, it's probably that the book is somehow soulless: showy and adept on the surface, shallow and superficial at core, a vehicle of style and skill over substance. These types of books seem to especially frustrate readers, because while the talent and labor involved are too evident to dismiss the book completely, the reader is often still left cold. The reader wrestles with feelings of "should I be enjoying and appreciating the book more than I actually am?" and this fosters some resentment. THIS IS THAT BOOK FOR ME. I finally comprehend the ubiquitous MFA Critique! There is much in this book that is probably quite technically polished and irreproachable. Many fine editors, teachers, and fellow writing prodigies obviously airbrushed it. It is All Very Important and Portentous. But sometimes, you just want to see some fucking cellulite, you know? The sheeny surface of this book was so slippery that the words inside completely swooshed off the surface of my brain. I have a very good memory, but whenever I closed this book and returned to it a brief time later, I stared blankly at the cover and entered into a several-minute time warp daze during which I could gather no recollection whatsoever of where I'd left off or what had happened so far. During a year in which I've been knocking off literary novels pretty rapidly, I proceeded to get mired at the page 115 mark for two weeks straight. All the while, a tower of noteworthy library holds amassed on the table beside me: Yanagihara, Mitchell Moore, Franzen, Kleeman, Groff. I started to imagine them tittering at me like a table full of popular girls in an 80s movie high school cafeteria: Why was I wasting my time hanging out with THAT one? (Except for Franzen, who wasn't tittering. He was just looking at me dismissively like, what did you expect, stupid person, of course nobody needs to tell you that should be reading me instead.) I had no good answer for any of them. It's one thing to "waste time" with some enjoyable fluff like The Knockoff, or the Holly Madison memoir, both of which I've recently read, knowing that you are deliberately choosing a course of non-self-improvement and in so doing neglecting a behemoth-and-ever-growing pile of self-bettering options. It's another thing entirely to watch something that contains the substance of one of the better quality weeknight network television dramas and yet purports to be as epic and weighty as Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Another thing this book made me realize is that, am I kind of over contemporary literary fiction books about marital affairs? I'm not saying affairs aren't important, or tragic, or common, or interesting. I'm not saying many great new and old works of edification and entertainment alike haven't been based around the plot device of an affair. I'm just saying it is maybe getting harder to navigate some noteworthy new territory through the lens of this plot device, and so I'm not sure it's the best lens to wield for a young MFA student who is writing a first novel and still has a lot more living to do. Just because affairs happen all the time and affect family lives doesn't mean they are easy to write about well enough to drive a powerful work of literary fiction. It felt kind of like cheating in this book, like a shortcut to an unearned level of significance, gravitas, and Import. I think the Literally Puritanical characters in The Scarlet Letter were able to handle sexually deviant behavior better and more realistically than the sophisticated, artsy Manhattanite adults and children in this book. And another thing - I don't expect every novel to be Marxian in its themes, but jeezus - could there be any less attention to money, class, and privilege in this book?? This family in which mom and dad are a failed ex-dancer and a controversial, declining artist apparently has such extra funds at their disposal (I guess you'd have to) that they can angst their way from coast to coast (literally) and focus solely on processing their pain and disappointment without one financial care in the world. That's fine if that's their situation and part of their characters and the plot, but at least acknowledge it somehow! It felt like the author didn't even get that this was...a critical Thing... that might influence the characters' behavior and coping skills. Instead it really felt like the characters were being held up as A Normal Family. Would that any Normal Family coping with the travails of an affair have the advantage of such luxury to indulge the hurt feelings. And while I'm at it, I guess I have to mention that if the kids are the relatively (!) stronger/complex (ha) characters in the novel, and the mom is kind of a neutral, one-faceted, mildly sympathetic, sweet and passive dimwit, Jack, the serially philandering artist dad/husband, is such a weak and pathetically underdrawn character that every time he appeared at the beginning of a chapter, I groaned aloud and thought, And you expect me to care about this WHY??? Through the whole book, he mopes about like a noncharming Eeyore, an even uneven keel of slightly drunken mild annoyance and mild disappointment. For all the readers who detest an "unlikeable" character, here we have something far worse: the underdeveloped, undefined, AND unsympathetic character! WHY is he in the book so much when in his present manifestation he really matters only as a catalyst. IN FACT - speaking of catalysts, the strongest and most interesting character voice of all, By Far, is the voice of the Other Woman, whose letter opens the novel and sets off its events. Then we hardly hear of her again, and never directly from her. And yet this is why we all picked up the book, is it not, these first few pages and the premise of the novel, her action in delivering the letter and emails to the family and everything falling into the hands of the kids? This brings me back to the original MFA Critique of the novel and the hazards of writing programs, which presuppose a certain recipe for being able to generate worthy publishable work. I imagine it happening like this: those first few pages, with the letter from the mistress, Clearly sound like they came from a writing exercise that is presented in creative writing classes and can be found in any number of How To Write books and textbooks. Then: (At the dive bar near campus) OTHER WORKSHOP STUDENTS: That letter was so awesome! You should Totally write a book about that etc. etc. ...and why wouldn't you, when your teachers are some of the best writers in the business and are encouraging you, when you have all human and other resources at your disposal to help you create polished and publishable prose.... But did the book NEED to be written, is what I'm asking. There is something dubious in its genesis. The characters in this respectable literary novel about an affair and its effects on a family behaved and spoke like characters in a respectable literary novel about an affair and its effects on a family. That was workshopped excessively by the finest students in one of the country's most reputable MFA programs. Nothing wrong with that, but. I prefer to spend my time reading other things. And wish I had.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth Peninger

    Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this free advanced readers copy. In exchange I am providing an honest review. I'm confused by the positive reviews, especially the reviews that include the words "humorous" and "funny" as descriptives for this story. I found nothing funny about it at all. In fact, I found it to be rather dull. The Shanleys are a NYC based family who are being torn apart by father Jack's indiscretions. Jack wants to brush it off as if it is a normal part of life and doe Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this free advanced readers copy. In exchange I am providing an honest review. I'm confused by the positive reviews, especially the reviews that include the words "humorous" and "funny" as descriptives for this story. I found nothing funny about it at all. In fact, I found it to be rather dull. The Shanleys are a NYC based family who are being torn apart by father Jack's indiscretions. Jack wants to brush it off as if it is a normal part of life and doesn't really affect anyone else. Deb and the kids, Simon and Kat, can't follow Jack's line of thought. It raises questions, insecurities, anger, doubt, and self-recriminations. Honestly? That's it. It is literally a story of a family falling apart after a betrayal. Jack is narcissistic, Deb has no backbone and their children are suffering for their parents indecisions and decisions. I felt agitated while reading the book and I believe it is because I was bored and looking for some sort of climax in conflict or something but nothing really happened.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    A truly incredible book! It isn't a contrived fairy tale. It does not provide the authors dreams, or provide moral coherence to exaggerated fiction...instead the author finds a way to allude the inner workings of each of the individuals within the Shanley family. The Shanley family is so broken, so shattered, and so chillingly normal. The way Julia Pierpont dissects these ordinary lives and lays them bare is heartbreaking, hilarious, and ultimately, keenly honest. The writing style is psychological A truly incredible book! It isn't a contrived fairy tale. It does not provide the authors dreams, or provide moral coherence to exaggerated fiction...instead the author finds a way to allude the inner workings of each of the individuals within the Shanley family. The Shanley family is so broken, so shattered, and so chillingly normal. The way Julia Pierpont dissects these ordinary lives and lays them bare is heartbreaking, hilarious, and ultimately, keenly honest. The writing style is psychologically intricate --intelligent--the prose beautiful. Overall the mindset is bleak and promises not to judge. We don't receive a package with a shiny bow on top....yet, I appreciate being respected and trusted with these complex challenges - forthright.... The maturity exchanges between the author and the reader is of equal match. (feels like a dance) .... a lovely one a that! A triumph of a novel! Many, many, many, congrats to Julia Pierpont!!! I'm a new fan!!! You deserve as many awards possible with this first novel! Thank you to the publisher- Random House, and Netgalley for the pleasure it was to read this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tara - Running 'n' Reading

    Just like you might, I read the marketing description for this novel and thought, "Wow! That sounds like a great story!" Not long after, I started seeing this one pop up on lots of must read lists: must read in July, must read for summer 2015, etc. Pierpont is a debut author, which always excites me, so I decided to give this one a shot. I was anticipating something really special; I started hearing more buzz from "important" book reviewers and decided to save it for my vacation - what a treat! Just like you might, I read the marketing description for this novel and thought, "Wow! That sounds like a great story!" Not long after, I started seeing this one pop up on lots of must read lists: must read in July, must read for summer 2015, etc. Pierpont is a debut author, which always excites me, so I decided to give this one a shot. I was anticipating something really special; I started hearing more buzz from "important" book reviewers and decided to save it for my vacation - what a treat! I started reading in anticipation of the magic...and I kept reading...and waiting...and kept reading...and waiting...and wondered why I was still reading...and waiting...and nothing happened. This guy Jack, the main character, is a serial adulterer; his most recent exploit piles together all of their little notes to one another and email correspondence and puts it all into a large envelope and sends it to Jack's wife, Deb; the doorman at their building, unaware of its contents, gives the envelope to Jack and Deb's daughter as she enters the building one day and asks her to give it to her mother. She sees an opening, notices some interesting material, gets nosy and starts reading; this beginning has so much potential! Unfortunately, the story is a dead end; nothing else happens. It's just not that kind of book. There was nothing funny about it; there was very little emotion and, in fact, it felt very cold; the story line around the two kids was the best part, but even that was pretty underdeveloped. I feel like someone who was invited to the hyped-up opening of an art installation and, when I arrived, I discovered that the installation was a household toilet; everyone stood around ooohing and ahhhing at this incredible "work of art" and I was left standing with my drink wondering why I didn't "get it." There has been some talk about the fact that Pierpont was guaranteed a lot of good press for her debut, due to the fact that she is a graduate of the M.F.A. program at NYU and many in the book publishing world assumed that her novel would be brilliant. Maybe her novel is brilliant; maybe I am the least sophisticated reader in the world; maybe I just don't get it. I really, really, really wanted this one to work out and I challenged myself to stick with it until the end; I hoped for some turning point, something that would make me change my mind, but it just didn't happen. If you can find the magic, please let me know; this just wasn't the book for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    If there was a point to this book, I didn't see it. There is an astonishing lack of emotion and insight, it's too impressed with its own "cleverness," and it's stunningly boring. I look at the synopsis describing this story as "dazzling," "funny," "wise," and "moving," and I'm just dumbfounded. I wasn't crazy about the strident style of narration for this audiobook, either. Review copy from the publisher.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    Tough family story about infidelity , tough enough for the wife to find out but then what happens when the kids find out is devastating. It's contemporary and real . Hits a bit close when you know a situation where a marriage ended as a result of infidelity and to see the impact on children is heartbreaking. I've seen it with people close to me . The description of the book says : "Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into crisis." Tough family story about infidelity , tough enough for the wife to find out but then what happens when the kids find out is devastating. It's contemporary and real . Hits a bit close when you know a situation where a marriage ended as a result of infidelity and to see the impact on children is heartbreaking. I've seen it with people close to me . The description of the book says : "Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into crisis." But the fact of the matter is that he does .The alternating points of view give insight into each of the characters, but in the middle of the book , we learn the end and what happens to them in the future and then the story returns to where it left off . One reviewer suggested reading Part 1 , then part 3 and then going back to Part 2. I considered this but then thought that I wanted to read it as the author wrote it and to have my thoughts be based on that . While it is real and does depict a family broken by what happens , I didn't find anything special here . What is different is that we are told the ending before the end. I'm not sure I liked that and I'm not sure what the author hoped to accomplish with that mechanism. Having said that , I was still interested enough in knowing how these characters got to where they ended up. I guess that's saying something and the writing certainly was good enough to keep me going. As far as the characters go , the only ones I really felt anything for were 11 year old Kay, who doesn't fully understand what she discovers in the package of sexually explicit e-mails , sent to her mother by a woman that her father had an affair with and 15 year old Simon who seems to want to shut things out with some early sexual activity and with drugs . Jack was not a likable character. While he loves his children and "didn't mean " for this to happen, the fact is that is how he has lived his life . We find out that he was previously married when he began his relationship with Deb . He wants to just move on as if nothing happened . Can he really believe that's possible ? His wife , Deb , actually knew of the affair and it seems didn't deal with it until confronted with the information in the package , even though by that time it was over . While the story is sad and it's heartbreaking to see how much Deb and the children are hurt here , I struggled to find something amazing here and I didn't. I liked it enough to finish it but didn't love it . Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “The end is never a surprise. People say, Don’t tell me, Don’t spoil it, and then later they say, If only I’d known. Nights in old living rooms, on pullout couches left pushed in, light reflects against the glass where the surprises were. We thought we were living in between-time, after this and before that, but it’s the between-time that lasted.” - Julia Pierpoint, Among the Ten Thousand Things Normally, I don’t pick on other reviewers when reviewing a book. After all, everyone is entitled to the “The end is never a surprise. People say, Don’t tell me, Don’t spoil it, and then later they say, If only I’d known. Nights in old living rooms, on pullout couches left pushed in, light reflects against the glass where the surprises were. We thought we were living in between-time, after this and before that, but it’s the between-time that lasted.” - Julia Pierpoint, Among the Ten Thousand Things Normally, I don’t pick on other reviewers when reviewing a book. After all, everyone is entitled to their own reaction. Still, I think I’m going to – just this once. I believe The New York Times Book Review can take it. Anyway, right there on the cover of my paperback version of Julia Pierpoint’s debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things, is a blurb from The Times: A luscious, smart summer novel, it says. A summer novel. I think, maybe, we have different ideas of what a “summer novel” entails. Because if I had a pull-quote for this book, it’d be this: Sad. But to each their own. Take this to the beach, by all means. Read it beneath the warmth of a July sun. Watch the waves as they crash ceaselessly against the shore. And gaze out at the horizon through tear-filmed eyes. Stare, and stare, and stare, and keep staring, but no matter, because the answer is not out there. You’ve just read Among the Ten Thousand Things, and you know there is no answer. There is only despair. All around you, people are sunning themselves, splashing in the surf, flirting and laughing and enjoying the hot grains between their toes. They are fools. Not you, though. You’ve just read Among the Ten Thousand Things. You know that this is not happiness. You know there is no such thing. There is only the relentless slide towards eternal darkness, the crystalline realization that we are fading, we are nothing, we are grub for the worms. You also have sand in your bathing suit. Among the Ten Thousand things is a mess of contradictions: it is both brilliant and awful, precocious and ignorant, precisely-targeted and way off course. The story it tells is of the Shanley family: Jack (a famed New York artist; naturally); his wife Deb (a former dancer; naturally); their high school-aged son Simon (moody and brimming with feuds and angst; naturally); and their eleven year-old daughter Kay (wonderfully evoked; surprisingly). When the novel begins, Jack’s mistress has just dumped off a box filled with dirty letters, texts, and emails, graphically describing an adulterous affair. (If we are being honest, this is the bait that got me on the line). What follows is an excruciatingly-detailed excavation of the fallout from this act of disclosure. No matter what else I thought about this book, it’s worth noting it's beautifully written. Pierpoint has a knack for turning a phrase, for capturing a detail. This is incredibly readable. She sets her hook immediately, and it holds throughout. It takes a great deal of imagination to inhabit the lives of others. After all, we can only see the world out our own eyes. It can be a leap to attempt to inhabit other ages, other genders. Pierpoint was a young woman when she wrote this, and yet she easily inhabits an aging philanderer, his fortyish wife, and their two kids. I didn't necessarily like the characters. I won’t even say I necessarily believed the characters. Nevertheless, Pierpoint draws them confidently, in bold strokes, and she is able to evoke great depth from small scenes (there is, specifically, an emotionally brutal scene when Jack goes to Texas to visit his aging mother). She utilizes a roving third-person perspective so that she can dip in and out of the consciousnesses of each of the Shanley clan. Structurally, Among the Ten Thousand Things has a twist or two. Generally speaking, it’s an unnecessary flourish that works like a jump-scare in a horror film. For a moment, you’re shocked. Afterwards, you are left with the residue of cheap manipulation. What was supposed to be clever comes off as contrived. If that is too impossibly vague, I’ve hid more behind the spoiler tag. (view spoiler)[Among the Ten Thousand Things begins with a gradual pace, focusing on the minute-to-minute, the day-by-day. Suddenly, about halfway through, Pierpoint pushes us into a time-machine that speeds us forward through the universe. Over the course of just twelve pages, Pierpoint traces the arc of the rest of the Shanleys’ lives. In spare prose, in lightly sketched moments, we tumble through the months and years that followed the disclosure of Jack’s affair. This isn’t a unique idea. Indeed, it reminded me of the final sequence of Six Feet Under. On a certain level, it’s a neat literary trick, skillfully executed. On the other hand, it’s an ace that can’t be replayed, a bell that can’t be un-rung. When this interlude is over, we return to the main chronology. By that point, I couldn’t pay any attention. Knowing the ending, I discovered I barely cared how we got there. (hide spoiler)] I’ll close where I started, with the idea of this as a beach read. Books do not have to end happily. Books do not have to be filled with likable characters. Good does not need to triumph; evil does not need to be vanquished. I’m arguing otherwise. If you saw my bookshelves, you would agree that I am not intrinsically drawn to the optimistic, to the whimsical, to the joyous. Still, it’s hard to ignore this book’s skewed, self-pitying perspective. The Shanley family reacts to the truth of Jack’s affair as though a nuclear warhead has just detonated in their living room. In their individual ways, each character displays remarkable reservoirs of egocentrism, self-centeredness, and pervasive gloominess. At one point, while eating a meal with his mother and stepfather, Jack thinks to himself: “Dinner had been grim because their lives were like that, grim.” That pretty much sums up the theme of Among the Ten Thousand Things. Grimness. Divorce sucks, there’s no denying that. My parents divorced when I was in eighth grade. It wasn’t fun. It also wasn’t the end of the world. Viewing it from the space of a couple decades, I can see it wasn’t even a tragedy. Not so for the Shanley clan. Despite living an upscale life in New York City, with an apartment, Jack’s studio, and a summer cottage, none of the characters seem capable of stepping outside themselves for a moment and measuring their troubles with any sense of scale. On the sunniest days they find the shadows. It becomes unrelentingly dreary. I don't want to bag on this because of its geographical setting, but this is a very New York novel. As in, this is the center of the universe, and because I live in the center of the universe, everything that happens to me is mathematically happening to the center of the universe. It would never occur to anyone in this novel, including, perhaps, the author, but you have to be really, really privileged to be this self-involved. In A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut wrote of an Uncle Alex, whose “principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy.” So, Vonnegut continued, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” This is not a terrible book. It is a work of considerable talent. But it’s not a book I liked. Certainly, it’s no summer read. If you’re at the beach, don’t bother with this. You’re on the sand, beneath the sun, the water is blue and cool, maybe you have a drink in one hand, maybe another drink in your other hand. Do what no one in Among the Ten Thousands Things ever thinks to do: Enjoy this moment of fleeting time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (brittanymariereads) E.

    Among the Ten Thousand Things is split into four parts. If I had written this review after I finished part one I would have rated it four, maybe four and a half stars. The first part of was excellent. It begins with a box of printed chat conversations, between Jack and his mistress, delivered right into the hands of his teenage children. It pulled me into the story immediately. It was fun, fresh and vulgar in a way that added to the writing. I had such high hopes for this book. The rest of the bo Among the Ten Thousand Things is split into four parts. If I had written this review after I finished part one I would have rated it four, maybe four and a half stars. The first part of was excellent. It begins with a box of printed chat conversations, between Jack and his mistress, delivered right into the hands of his teenage children. It pulled me into the story immediately. It was fun, fresh and vulgar in a way that added to the writing. I had such high hopes for this book. The rest of the book was so disappointing. The writing was lacking substance. It was choppy and for lack of a better word, boring. I finished the book feeling as though nothing had really happened. I hated the ending. The last paragraph was just ridiculous. How many people read that last paragraph and thought it was a good way to end the book? I love almost everything I read. This review has me feeling like a total jerk. I am not saying that you shouldn’t read it. For everybody who hates a book there is somebody that loves it just as much. This book just wasn’t for me. You can read the full review and more at my blog! http://brittanymariereads.wordpress.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy James

    I wish all books I wasn't enjoying would tell me halfway through what happens at the end. That saved me a lot of time. I don't share others' enthusiasm for this book. I found it dull and plodding with lifeless characters.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    You know how Anton Chekhov said "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there"? What Julia Pierpont has done here is hung various weapons on the wall and left them to gather dust. It's the biggest flaw of the book: no drama. Instead the story meanders and gets lost in debris that frankly should have been edited much more tightly, like a little clear You know how Anton Chekhov said "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there"? What Julia Pierpont has done here is hung various weapons on the wall and left them to gather dust. It's the biggest flaw of the book: no drama. Instead the story meanders and gets lost in debris that frankly should have been edited much more tightly, like a little clear stream running off into a thick, muddy river. It's a shame because Pierpont starts off so strongly. A slighted mistress drops off a box of raunchy, shameful, heartbreaking correspondence between her and her married former lover, a man named Jack. She wants his wife Deb to see the extent of their affair, but the box ends up in the wrong hands--with Jack and Deb's children, Simon and Kay, only 15 and 11 years old. Now everyone knows and needs to figure out what to do next. But to complicate things, Deb is a former ballet dancer who gave up her promising career (or was she looking for an easy way out from a career not that promising?) when she got pregnant and married Jack--who at the time was cheating on his first wife with Deb! And Jack is an artist who's latest opening goes calamitously wrong at the worst possible time, when all of this has just been freshly exposed. And Simon, the son, is clearly not getting enough guidance from his parents and starting down a wayward path. And Kay, the daughter, is too young to understand and an awkward little thing to boot and starts, of all things, writing Seinfeld fan-fiction, which gets weird fast, and then turns her into a pariah when her nasty little classmates steal it from her and read it. And then the mistress is nowhere to be found by anyone. See? So many rifles on the wall. Can the marriage be saved? Will the kids be alright? Can missing mistress be found? And the bungled art opening, the failed dancing career, the Seinfeld fanfic, Jack's first wife? In someone else's hands this could be gold--I'm thinking of films, like Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Kids Are Alright, even Double Indemnity because this could totally have a noir twist if Pierpont had spun it that way. Such a perfectly tangled plot, so many conflicts we could have gleefully watched unfold, and even the possibility for redemption, revenge, renewal. Such a shame, then, that Pierpont lets it all slip through her hands and crumble into dust. Reading this book was like leaving all of the ingredients and a detailed recipe for chocolate layer cake with somebody, somebody who wants to make layer cake (or better yet she got everything together herself and promises a layer cake will be waiting for you when you get back, the best and most perfect layer cake, which is also your favorite food), but when you return the eggs are shattered on the floor, the cat is lapping up a puddle from an overturned carton of milk, cocoa and flour are everywhere, and your would-be cook is gazing out the window, smoking a cigarette, and when you ask what happened she says "cake is meaningless anyway." Because those are the other two problems I have with the book: disdain and apathy. Now some of the best authors and characters can be cynical and judgmental to hilarious effect. But in this book, towards the end I was sick of the disdain for others. I couldn't tell if it was the author or the characters anymore--it just seemed like every personal weakness existed only to be attacked. You can actually live outside of New York City and not be an obese, uncultured troglodyte. You can eat at a chain restaurant once in a while and not have it mean you're pathetic. Weirdly though, Pierpont turns just as much on the city as the suburbs, on the too-thin and the too-fat, on those jaded by life and on those still consumed with a hopeless, romantic naïveté. Nihilism gets old quick. And the apathy. I'm not saying Deb and Jack should or should not get back together after Jack's infidelity. But they should be shown doing what people do: figuring something out. Exploring their own feelings and desires. Hashing it out angrily. Discussing it with their friends, their families, their children. How does a couple move on from an affair, separately or together? If they stay together, how did they reach that conclusion and how will the marriage continue to function? If they break up, how do they feel about that breakup; do they have regrets, how do they deal with being alone, how do they move on? Those are the questions, questions which create fertile ground for great storytelling, begging to be explored here and Pierpont does nothing with them. I don't need true love and happy endings all the time, although they're nice sometimes, but what I'm looking for in a book is change. A plot needs to move from point A to B and characters need to seem different at the beginning, middle, and end, because isn't that how people are? Isn't that how a book stays truest to life? Among the Ten Thousand things, by contrast, is stagnant and dull.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    There's no middle ground when it comes to liking "Among the Ten Thousand Things" by Julia Pierpont. I really enjoyed this novel, but I know a lot of people who hated it. I must admit, I wasn't crazy about the surprise "twist" halfway through, because it ruins the ending (it's non-linear). This is the reason I had to dock a star, otherwise than that, I appreciated how raw and honest this novel was when it came to seemingly perfect families. No family is perfect. Secrets have a way of coming to li There's no middle ground when it comes to liking "Among the Ten Thousand Things" by Julia Pierpont. I really enjoyed this novel, but I know a lot of people who hated it. I must admit, I wasn't crazy about the surprise "twist" halfway through, because it ruins the ending (it's non-linear). This is the reason I had to dock a star, otherwise than that, I appreciated how raw and honest this novel was when it came to seemingly perfect families. No family is perfect. Secrets have a way of coming to light. Pierpont is a strong writer, I loved her unique prose. The protagonists, Jack and Deb Shanley, are deeply-flawed in every way (he's a bad husband, she's oblivious). You might not like them because they behave in rash and selfish ways, and their bad choices ultimately affect their 2 children, Simon and Kay, in the process. I really liked Kay. She's shy, sensitive, and curious about the world. I felt a strong connection to her. Kay's inner-pain and confusion when relating to her emotionally aloof parents was palpable. Love it or hate it, there's no denying the agony every family feels when things begin to fall apart. This isn't a happy, sunny novel, you have been warned.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (2.5) Pierpont’s ambitiously structured debut novel explores how infidelity affects a whole New York City family. Modern artist Jack Shanley’s latest exhibit shows an exploded house in the Middle East. The installation might be symbolic of his own broken household after his affair goes public. Jordan, an NYU art student, prints out every email that passed between her and Jack – even the dirty ones – and posts them to Deb, Jack’s wife. Unfortunately, Jack and Deb’s 11-year-old daughter, Kay, gets (2.5) Pierpont’s ambitiously structured debut novel explores how infidelity affects a whole New York City family. Modern artist Jack Shanley’s latest exhibit shows an exploded house in the Middle East. The installation might be symbolic of his own broken household after his affair goes public. Jordan, an NYU art student, prints out every email that passed between her and Jack – even the dirty ones – and posts them to Deb, Jack’s wife. Unfortunately, Jack and Deb’s 11-year-old daughter, Kay, gets to the box first, and the messages’ sexually explicit language infuses her fantasy Seinfeld scripts. Her brother Simon is 15 and worldlier but still no less shattered by how Jack has let the family down. Pierpont chooses an unusual method for revealing the aftermath of the affair. In short sections of matter-of-fact statements she gives a bare-bones what-happened-next for each of the characters over the next decade or so. But “it’s the between-time that lasted,” Pierpoint argues as she returns to that summer of revelations for a closer look at Deb and the kids’ two-week getaway in Rhode Island as well as Jack’s trip west to pursue a job prospect and visit his mother. The climactic events of the holiday contrast childhood innocence and adulthood; when you’re on the cusp, certain experiences can push you over the brink from one to the other. This offbeat take on the dysfunctional family novel should interest fans of Nicole Krauss or Rebecca Dinerstein (see The Sunlit Night). (This review originally appeared at We Love This Book.) A few more thoughts to help justify the rating... • It’s really uncomfortable having the kids read the explicit messages between their dad and his mistress. • I was never quite convinced that the vacation was necessary to zero in on. • There’s some weird word order here – evidence of trying to be too clever (the same goes for the structure). Things I did like: • Simon is reading The Fountainhead on the Rhode Island trip (a high school read for me as well). • It’s an interesting irony that Jack and Deb’s relationship also began as an affair – he was married and she was 25.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    WARNING DO NOT READ PART TWO AFTER PART ONE! SKIP TO PART THREE, READ THAT THEN GO BACK AND READ PART TWO AND THEN PART FOUR. Trust me, there is logic behind this advice. This book is very well written and Pierpont is definitely talented. The box of items central to the story is not for the faint hearted but I came to see the point in the language being so provocative. This is a well done character study and book groups should find a lot to discuss here. Can't recommend to everyone but will appe WARNING DO NOT READ PART TWO AFTER PART ONE! SKIP TO PART THREE, READ THAT THEN GO BACK AND READ PART TWO AND THEN PART FOUR. Trust me, there is logic behind this advice. This book is very well written and Pierpont is definitely talented. The box of items central to the story is not for the faint hearted but I came to see the point in the language being so provocative. This is a well done character study and book groups should find a lot to discuss here. Can't recommend to everyone but will appeal to most. ARC from publisher.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This was a really interesting book, and my 3-star-rating is definitely a very positive one. What makes this book so interesting is the way the plot is structured. In the middle of the story, Julia Pierpont decides to give you the ending of the book (aka all of the characters' lives), and then she goes back to continue the story, knowing very well that we already know how everything is going to end. It might sound very spoilery, but it actually worked really well because the story became more abo This was a really interesting book, and my 3-star-rating is definitely a very positive one. What makes this book so interesting is the way the plot is structured. In the middle of the story, Julia Pierpont decides to give you the ending of the book (aka all of the characters' lives), and then she goes back to continue the story, knowing very well that we already know how everything is going to end. It might sound very spoilery, but it actually worked really well because the story became more about the characters' journey than the actual ending. Furthermore, I was impressed with Julia Pierpont's writing. This was my first read by her, and I had to underline several sentences. At times, I did find the writing unnecessarily fragmented, but all in all it was an enjoyment to read this story. The reason behind my 3-star-rating is that in the end, it wasn't a very impressionable story. I enjoyed reading it, but I can feel that it's not going to be a book that will stay for me for a long time to come and that I will think back on. I think that a stronger storyline combined with the beautiful prose and interesting plot would've made for an absolutely perfect book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    I tried to get into this novel but hope for that faded with each page I read. The author's wordiness was distracting and I could not connect with any of the characters. The only time I felt anything was when Katy found the email collection that was meant for her father. I don't think Ms. Pierpont has enough of an understanding of what can derail a family and how shattering that derailment can be. The characterization was shallow and the plot tagged slowly along. I read all the hype and wanted to I tried to get into this novel but hope for that faded with each page I read. The author's wordiness was distracting and I could not connect with any of the characters. The only time I felt anything was when Katy found the email collection that was meant for her father. I don't think Ms. Pierpont has enough of an understanding of what can derail a family and how shattering that derailment can be. The characterization was shallow and the plot tagged slowly along. I read all the hype and wanted to read this book but I am sorely disappointed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Deb Shanley knows that her artist husband, Jack, has had problems with fidelity—in fact, when she and Jack first began their relationship, he was still married to his first wife. But since he promised that his latest affair had ended, she is more than just a little thrown when his jilted lover sends Deb a box of all of the emails (many of them sexual in nature) that Jack sent her, especiall Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Deb Shanley knows that her artist husband, Jack, has had problems with fidelity—in fact, when she and Jack first began their relationship, he was still married to his first wife. But since he promised that his latest affair had ended, she is more than just a little thrown when his jilted lover sends Deb a box of all of the emails (many of them sexual in nature) that Jack sent her, especially when that box is delivered to her children's hands instead of her own. As Deb tries to make sense of her feelings, and Jack vacillates between guilt over the emails and anxiety over the future of his career, their children, 15-year-old Simon and 11-year-old Kay react in different ways. Simon takes advantage of his mother's distraction to dabble in drugs, sex, and delinquency, while Kay struggles with understanding her approaching maturity and the meanness of her fellow classmates. And both look to Deb to set the tone for their relationship with their father; when she waffles on how to deal with Jack, they're unsure of how to deal with her as well. Julia Pierpont's Among the Ten Thousand Things is an intriguing look at a marriage in trouble, and how others, including children, get caught in the crossfire. It's also the story of trying to find your own strength in the face of crisis and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of, as well as a commentary on whether what goes around truly comes around. I thought this book was very well written, but the way the narrative structure unfolded ruined the book for me. The first quarter of the book starts out terrifically, providing emotion, anger, frustration with some of the characters, even a little suspense about how the story will proceed. Then, inexplicably (at least for me), the second quarter of the book quickly summarizes what happens to the characters from that moment on, and does so in very short sentences. But there's still half of the book left, and the third quarter of the story goes back to where the first quarter ended. So it was hard for me to remain interested in the story when I ultimately knew what was going to happen. I saw, after the fact, a reviewer on Goodreads suggesting you read Section 1, then Section 3, then Sections 2 and 4, and I'd imagine if you do that, you might enjoy this book even more. Regardless, Pierpont has a tremendous amount of talent, and I'll be interested in watching her career unfold. See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    This debut novel by Julia Pierpont starts off with fireworks. I found the premise very intriguing: a box intended for Deb from the ex-mistress of her husband full of every communication between them is intercepted by her children. Deb, who had been able to move on with the status quo since discovering her husband’s affair many months prior, now has to rethink everything in light of her children (ages 11 and 15) knowing about her husband’s affair. This novel is divided into 4 parts. Part one is th This debut novel by Julia Pierpont starts off with fireworks. I found the premise very intriguing: a box intended for Deb from the ex-mistress of her husband full of every communication between them is intercepted by her children. Deb, who had been able to move on with the status quo since discovering her husband’s affair many months prior, now has to rethink everything in light of her children (ages 11 and 15) knowing about her husband’s affair. This novel is divided into 4 parts. Part one is the fireworks. Part two is the camera zooming out and giving a panoramic view of life to come. Parts 3 and 4 zoom back in again. It is an interesting book that examines the effect of the affair on the husband, wife and the children. Everyone is struggling in their own ways with the knowledge, the changes in the family dynamic, and all the emotions they are experiencing. I particularly liked how Kay, the 11 year old daughter, imposed what she knew of the affair into her own rewriting of Seinfeld episodes. I thought it was interesting how Simon related to the Fountainhead, and how much this bothered his mother. It is a compelling read, but also a slow moving read for the second half of the book, with characters that are trying their best to weather through very difficult times. I found myself after the first part wishing for more action, less indecision and vacancy. I felt like I was lost in the calm after the storm, and read faster and faster as the book went on, really just trying to finish. Overall, I felt this was a well-written and very polished, intelligent book by an author from whom I think we will see much more to come. However, is a difficult book to fully “enjoy” since it deals with so much unhappiness and frustration, which is why I think the ratings for this book are all over the map. The relationships are all fraught with sadness, loneliness, disappointment, and unfulfillment. For the writing and honesty displayed, I give it 4 stars, but for my overall “enjoyment” I would only give it 2 stars. For discussion questions, please see http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=349.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I feel a bit of trepidation about writing this review. My experience of the novel was good but not great. Julia Pierpont is a really good writer and the story itself was good and explored really interesting themes. She plays a lot with structure which is one of the things that I didn't happen to love about it. I understand why she probably made that decision but I didn't really like that aspect of the novel. Maybe I'm too traditionally minded to truly appreciate the out of the box structure she I feel a bit of trepidation about writing this review. My experience of the novel was good but not great. Julia Pierpont is a really good writer and the story itself was good and explored really interesting themes. She plays a lot with structure which is one of the things that I didn't happen to love about it. I understand why she probably made that decision but I didn't really like that aspect of the novel. Maybe I'm too traditionally minded to truly appreciate the out of the box structure she used to tell this story. I really loved the first part of the novel - I found it engaging and fresh in a really good way. But, something shifted for me as we move into later parts of the novel ... the narrative slowed down in some way and it didn't feel quite right to me as I read it. I found myself eager to see what happens but wishing it would just move forward more quickly. Perhaps that is a result of the structure of the novel - given that the reader learns an outcome before the story that led to that outcome is told. Overall, I do think the exploration of family, marriage and infidelity was interesting and it was done in a refreshing way. Watching the story play out from the perspective of the children in the novel was also quite interesting and compelling. That might have been some of my favorite bits. Despite my reservations about the novel's structure, I did think it was a good read. I recommend it especially to those who are open to bold story structure and who enjoy non-traditional prose. FYI - I struggled with my rating - it's probably closer to a 3.5 but I don't think it's quite a 4. NOTE: The publisher provided me with a galley of this novel for my honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alena

    I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. My opinions are my own. Honest, direct, almost raw story of a family's disintegration. Pierpont shows a lot of courage, especially in a debut novel, not over-explaining characters' motivations and moving the few days of action in this story quickly. I really loved all of that. I loved the two kids and their angry yearning. I love the imagery of profanity-filled papers fluttering into the courtyard (not to mention pinned up in the I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. My opinions are my own. Honest, direct, almost raw story of a family's disintegration. Pierpont shows a lot of courage, especially in a debut novel, not over-explaining characters' motivations and moving the few days of action in this story quickly. I really loved all of that. I loved the two kids and their angry yearning. I love the imagery of profanity-filled papers fluttering into the courtyard (not to mention pinned up in the elevator.) What I'm not sure about were the epilogue-feeling pages inserted into the body of the novel. I'm not the kind of reader who worries about whether I know the ending, but I just could not figure out the author's purpose in giving the next twenty years away while I still felt in the middle of the plot. "The end is never a surprise. People say, Don't tell me, Don't spoil it, and then later say, If only I'd known....We thought we were living in between-time, after this and before that, but it's the between-time that lasted." I didn't dislike it, but I was confused. I get the quote, the if I'd only known part, but it wasn't enough to make it any less bizarre. The segway only ended up taking me out of the book and into over-thinking. Still, I'm impressed and will definitely look for more if this author's work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheeky Cher

    1.5 stars - I didn't like it. After an explosive beginning, this fizzles out into one seemingly endless yawn. The publisher recommends this for fans of Jonathan Franzen, and I'd have to say that is accurate....given that I DNF'd the only book I attempted to read from him, after also being unable to form any engagement with the boring novel. This one at least was not nearly as painful as Freedom . ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: For a moment everyone was quiet, but the si 1.5 stars - I didn't like it. After an explosive beginning, this fizzles out into one seemingly endless yawn. The publisher recommends this for fans of Jonathan Franzen, and I'd have to say that is accurate....given that I DNF'd the only book I attempted to read from him, after also being unable to form any engagement with the boring novel. This one at least was not nearly as painful as Freedom . ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: For a moment everyone was quiet, but the silence was filled with other things. First Sentence: Dear Deborah, Do you go by Deborah?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    What did I think? NOT the book for me. It was rather depressing and it just seemed overly busy for nothing. Besides a family in torment, not much else going on. I need a bowl of laughs right about now to lighten the mood. Nah. This didn't work for me. One more tiny, incredibly annoying fact: I'm not exactly sure why the author thought that placing the ending of the story RIGHT THERE IN THE MIDDLE was going to translate to genius idea. Um...if I wasn't so OCD, I'd have quickly pulled the plug on t What did I think? NOT the book for me. It was rather depressing and it just seemed overly busy for nothing. Besides a family in torment, not much else going on. I need a bowl of laughs right about now to lighten the mood. Nah. This didn't work for me. One more tiny, incredibly annoying fact: I'm not exactly sure why the author thought that placing the ending of the story RIGHT THERE IN THE MIDDLE was going to translate to genius idea. Um...if I wasn't so OCD, I'd have quickly pulled the plug on this one. Let's not do that again. Kinda felt like Part Two should've been titled with a big fat SPOILER ALERT. Seriously. Hurt my feelings. Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program for hooking me up with a DRC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    I had a hard time initially understanding why this book has a quite low average rating here on Goodreads - the writing is really good and the characters and happenings engaging. More or less a family drama/tragedy, it is a well-structured and very believable tale that really lets you connect with the characters and know them. Not like them all, by a long shot, but that adds to the genuine feeling. I do understand the objections that to little actually happens to shock the reader - but drag you i I had a hard time initially understanding why this book has a quite low average rating here on Goodreads - the writing is really good and the characters and happenings engaging. More or less a family drama/tragedy, it is a well-structured and very believable tale that really lets you connect with the characters and know them. Not like them all, by a long shot, but that adds to the genuine feeling. I do understand the objections that to little actually happens to shock the reader - but drag you in I certainly felt it does. The problem for me is that the story kind of falls apart in the final chapters and well before I realized that there were too few pages left to offer any world-shattering ending, I started drifting and thinking about what to read next. I'll certainly read another one from the author when the chance comes though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    Julia Pierpont’s Among the Ten Thousand Things is about a marriage in trouble, and how all family members and friends are affected. I was intrigued by the synopsis, but not by the actual book. The story is told in four parts. Parts one and three are set in the present, while parts two and four are quick summaries of what happens to the family members in the future. I usual ly enjoy dual time period books, but this one didn’t work for me. The changing time periods ended up being choppy and disori Julia Pierpont’s Among the Ten Thousand Things is about a marriage in trouble, and how all family members and friends are affected. I was intrigued by the synopsis, but not by the actual book. The story is told in four parts. Parts one and three are set in the present, while parts two and four are quick summaries of what happens to the family members in the future. I usual ly enjoy dual time period books, but this one didn’t work for me. The changing time periods ended up being choppy and disorienting. The bits about Jack’s and Deb’s parents seemed like non sequitors. The story layout wasn’t a slow peeling of an onion that revealed the characters and motives. It was a choppy sea bouncing a small dingy on its white-capped surface. Deb, a ballerina going no where, escapes her lackluster career by marrying an older, well-known artist. She escapes her failed marriage by ignoring her husband’s philandering until hard evidence is thrust into her teenaged children’s hands (quite literally). Until that point, Deb the doormat was just going to shut up and put up. Jack, the cheating husband, was a one-time successful artist, however, since his first big flop following a “9/11” piece, he has been flailing and desperate for a devotee and praise. He finds that in a young woman who happy and knowingly gets involved with this married man. Kay and Simon, their teenaged offspring are stung and hurt by their father’s infidelity. They completely fall apart. The characters sound compelling, but they really weren’t. They were self-absorbed and lost before the incident of the cardboard box of sexy emails between Jack and his lover arrived at their NYC apartment. It was impossible to find any sympathy for any of them. I generally have no issue with “unresolved” stories—after all, life is not tied up in a pretty bow—but I found the ending to Among The Ten Thousand Things to be abrupt and without a path to the future. While I found this book disappointing, I can see that Julia Pierpont could be a successful author and I would be willing to read a future novel by this author.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Griflet

    2.5 stars. This is an MFA novel. Now lately, I have given up trying and mostly stopped reading them. They frustrate the fuck out of me. But the first few pages seemed ok on perusal and so I gave it a go. I enjoyed it for a while. Then it went all MFA in the middle and pissed me off. But I read til the end. Jonathan Safran Foer says on the front cover: "This book is among the funniest and the most emotionally honest I've read in a long time." On the back cover someone else says: "Very few writers, 2.5 stars. This is an MFA novel. Now lately, I have given up trying and mostly stopped reading them. They frustrate the fuck out of me. But the first few pages seemed ok on perusal and so I gave it a go. I enjoyed it for a while. Then it went all MFA in the middle and pissed me off. But I read til the end. Jonathan Safran Foer says on the front cover: "This book is among the funniest and the most emotionally honest I've read in a long time." On the back cover someone else says: "Very few writers, at any point in their lives, can produce prose of the sort you'll find here." Making me roll my eyes and say puh-leease but yielding the satisfying phrase "prose of the sort". This 'prose of the sort' conveys some stunning images in places, in terms of being inside a character and having their authenticity smack you upside the face briefly, but it remains over-all too damn clever for its own good. As a reader, maybe because I'm also a writer and MFA-er myself, I'm left watching and sighing as one cartwheel too many is performed, and the end of chapter flourishes become tics repeated so often they morph into the trite and the twee. I'm left way outside in the cold. Readers want to be inside a story and we're prepared, often, to give writers a whole lot of room to move in how how they get us and keep us inside; we don't want much - a character to root for, a story with a small fire - but we want you, the writer, to fuck off out of our faces as we make our way into your tale and if you keep on parading into the room in your writer's high heels and insist on doing handstands against the wall without your knickers on because you think you're some hot stuff...well, I'm gonna walk out and turn the light off.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Is there a brief period in time that defines a life? Does that brief period have a clear story arc, a beginning, middle and end, through which we can detect the course of someone’s entire life? So that the rest of their life is just a spooling out of that incident; later we will see they get where they were going. In Among the Ten Thousand Things, the author plays with these ideas, not just for one individual, but for an entire family unit. And then she adds a fascinating device, providing a gli Is there a brief period in time that defines a life? Does that brief period have a clear story arc, a beginning, middle and end, through which we can detect the course of someone’s entire life? So that the rest of their life is just a spooling out of that incident; later we will see they get where they were going. In Among the Ten Thousand Things, the author plays with these ideas, not just for one individual, but for an entire family unit. And then she adds a fascinating device, providing a glimpse into the future, sandwiched into the middle of the story. Perhaps we already knew how this story would play out; we just didn’t want to acknowledge it. Like family members and friends, we prefer to remain uncommitted when confronted with messy situations. But we just can’t keep from watching and being involved on the sidelines. This is a juicy, tangled and ultimately fascinating story; as much for the way the story is told as for the tale itself. The author brings us into the action by causing us to feel conflicted about the outcome at every step. And then we are left wondering about similar tales in life. What more could you ask of great fiction? The book is fast and makes a powerful impact. Highly recommend. I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher. I wasn't going to read it just yet. It won't be released for a few months. But I took a look at the first few pages. Then a few more. And then I could. Not. Stop. I read it straight through the night.

  28. 4 out of 5

    lp

    An interesting beginning (daughter finds box of dirty letters from father's mistress to deliver to her mother), but I stopped liking it shortly after. Halfway through, you are fast forwarded to the end so you find out how all the characters end up. Then you slow down again and go back to the past. Why this? Why did Pierpont do that to me? It was jarring and took away from the enjoyment of the finale, which ended up being disappointing. It seemed rather half-assed. And here's something that start An interesting beginning (daughter finds box of dirty letters from father's mistress to deliver to her mother), but I stopped liking it shortly after. Halfway through, you are fast forwarded to the end so you find out how all the characters end up. Then you slow down again and go back to the past. Why this? Why did Pierpont do that to me? It was jarring and took away from the enjoyment of the finale, which ended up being disappointing. It seemed rather half-assed. And here's something that started happening more and more: Pierpont would try too hard to see beauty in tiny simple things. To the point that there is like a whole goddam page that says "The stamp was red." I am exaggerating but you know. This can be effective but there was too much of it. Just tell me a story, please, and make it a good one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bailey

    This is a wonderful, beautiful character study about the ramifications of the revelation of an affair in a marriage, and how it truly affects everyone around them. Had I not read After Birth so recently, I might have enjoyed this more than I did. Though, of course, it is not fair to pit two such stunning books of literary fiction by women against each other at all, and that isn't my intention. It just didn't help. I liked this a lot, and I see why people are raving about it. Julia Pierpont has a l This is a wonderful, beautiful character study about the ramifications of the revelation of an affair in a marriage, and how it truly affects everyone around them. Had I not read After Birth so recently, I might have enjoyed this more than I did. Though, of course, it is not fair to pit two such stunning books of literary fiction by women against each other at all, and that isn't my intention. It just didn't help. I liked this a lot, and I see why people are raving about it. Julia Pierpont has a lot of wise, beautiful things to say about the sadness in our lives.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Silvanna

    This is the first book I've read by Julia Pierpont so I didn't know what to expect. The characters are intiguing if not terribly pleasant yet the narrative language is beautiful. Of the main characters - Jack is hugely unlikeable, Deb is weak and indecisive, Simon moody, Gary bland. However, I enjoyed Simon's brief relationship with Teagan. And I felt Jack's relationship with his daughter hugely believable. 3.5 stars.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.