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& Sons by David Gilbert
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& Sons (2013)

by David Gilbert

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
This could have been an intriguing novel though it fell far short of the rabid plaudits strewn across the cover.

The novel is narrated by Philip Topping and starts with his father's funeral. The tribute is to be delivered by A N Dyer, the highly regarded and commercially very successful novelist who has lived a reclusive life for the last few decades, and is clearly modelled, at least in part, on J D Salinger.

The novel is essentially an exegesis of family relationships, and particularly those between fathers and their sons. Unfortunately it was all rather laboured, managing to cram in two hundred pages' worth of material into four hundred pages of scrawling prose, which left me bemoaning the fact that Dyer hadn't predeceased his friend, thus obviating the need for this ultimately tedious book. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Jun 25, 2014 |
I really loved this book-- it only didn't get 5 stars because of some minor issues. I am disappointed though that it comes up in LibraryThing as And Sons rather than & Sons. That changes the meaning. ( )
  akh3966 | Jun 24, 2014 |
well....rats. all of the bookishness within this book had me so hopeful for a great read. unfortunately i felt the whole thing was just a giant gimmick and it never settled into a good experience for me. it was sort of a hot mess, populated by immature characters. i love unreliable and unlikeable characters...but they still have to be interesting. there wasn't a whole lot of interest going on in this story to redeem the players or the tale, which is such a shame. i did like 'andy' - the 2nd star is mostly because of him. i keep thinking about how else this story could have been approached. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Jun 16, 2014 |
We meet reclusive author, A.N. Dyer, when he waiting to give the elegy at the funeral of his "oldest and dearest" friend Charles Topping. Topping's son has often wished he were Dyer's son and has been a hanger-on to the (dysfunctional) Dyer family which consists of the author and his three sons. Flashbacks to the relationship between A.N. and Charles are provided by letters from their youth which are included in difficult to read handwriting. We follow the two families back and forth in time for 434 very boring pages. The biggest problem with the book is that none of the characters are interesting or likable so I simply couldn't get interested in what happened or was going to happen to them. I finished it only out of sheer stubbornness. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | May 23, 2014 |
& Sons is the story of reclusive author A N Dyer as he comes to terms with his own age and looks back at the decisions he has made that led him to this point of his life. It is also the story of his relationship with his three sons, their relationships with each other, and the relationship of this complicated family with the family of Charles Topping, A N Dyer's childhood friend. Many stories, many relationships, many complications.

Read my full review at: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2014/02/sons.html

*** Reviewed for GoodReads First Reads program *** ( )
  njmom3 | Feb 4, 2014 |
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For Max & Eliza & Olivia
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Once upon a time, the moon had a moon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812993969, Hardcover)

A literary masterwork for readers of The Art of Fielding, The Emperor’s Children, and Wonder Boys—the panoramic, deeply affecting story of two interconnected families, an iconic novelist, and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide
 
The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he’s led and the people he’s hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years—before it’s too late.
 
So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there’s son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand. But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family.
 
In this daring feat of fiction, David Gilbert establishes himself as one of our most original, entertaining, and insightful authors. & Sons is that rarest of treasures: a startlingly imaginative novel about families and how they define us, and the choices we make when faced with our own mortality.

Advance praise for & Sons
 
“David Gilbert’s & Sons is that novel you’ve been waiting for without knowing you were waiting. Big, brilliant, and terrifically funny, it’s a moving story about fathers and sons and success, a dead-on, deadpan retelling of our American literary myth.”—Jess Walter
 
“I like novels about novelists, and surely everyone is a sucker for a story that begins at the funeral of a childhood friend—especially a funeral with such a sense of foreboding (‘we would all return to this church’). & Sons is not an easy novel to describe without giving too much of the story away. Why would the first-person narrator need to defend himself from ‘charges of narrative fraud’? Why is a seventeen-year-old Exeter student—the product, we are told, of an affair that ended the novelist’s marriage and estranged the writer from his older sons—likened to ‘a small boy overboard, possibly drowning’? Yes, the writing is gorgeous—not only the prose but the power of David Gilbert’s observations. ‘All things have a second birth,’ Gilbert writes, and later, ‘We all have something to steal.’ And have I mentioned, without giving it away, that this is a terrific story?”—John Irving
 
“Informed by observation and memory rather than aspiration and fantasy, & Sons is a New York novel written by an actual New Yorker. David Gilbert is smart, funny, and empathetic, but most important, possessed of a true literary sensibility that is seasoned, not seasonal.”—Fran Lebowitz

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:46:48 -0400)

A famous reclusive writer and his three sons find their bond tested by the weight of long-held secrets and a cumbersome legacy shaped by boarding school, Hollywood, and the elite circles of the publishing world.

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