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The Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris

The Rich Part of Life

by Jim Kokoris

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Professor of history Theo Pappas plays his dead wife's favorite lottery numbers - the date of birth of his oldest son, Teddy - and wins $190 million. The lives of the Pappas family members are forever changed, but all does not go smoothly. Kokoris gives the reader a wonderful cast of characters who are vividly drawn. My book club really enjoyed this book. We couldn't help ourselves and simply HAD to "cast the movie" - Kevin Spacey as Theo. And, of course, it made us wonder - would WE be changed by winning the lottery? ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 9, 2016 |
This book has a bunch of serious themes but Kokoris handles them with a light touch, filling his book with humor and successfully making use of a child narrator - which is a rare feat. The Rich Part of Life is filled with quick and unexpected jokes such as Teddy imagining french fries frying in his friend's greasy hair or referring to his younger brother as "the nosepicker." But amid all the laughable situations that arise from the winning of the lottery, a lot of serious ones arise, too. Kokoris brings to life Teddy's father who struggles under the burden of his unexpected windfall as all number of people seek him out to solicit money and someone else shows up with even more sinister motives. By the end, I found myself rooting for this lost family to find itself amid the chaos of winning the lottery, and I wasn't disappointed. ( )
  yourotherleft | Nov 6, 2007 |
Once a year I read a book that my mother recommends. It's sort of a thing we do. When she has time, she reads a book that I recommend. Don't ask me to dig through the archives and pull out too many previous examples (although last year's, I can tell you, was Housekeeping), but we've done this off and on since I was in college. Only lately have I tried to make this a per annum event. This year's selection was The Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris. Don't ask me how she found this one. It surely wasn't on a best-seller list. But find it she did, and read it, and liked it enough to recommend, and even bought me a copy of my own. Usually when people buy me books I feel even more compelled to read them. So I brought this one on my latest trip overseas.

The story revolves around the Pappas family, recently minus one mother who was killed in a car accident, who wins $190 million in the lottery and subsequently inherits a strange cast of characters, from an almost dead-beat uncle escaping a Hollywood B-Movie financial scandal, his vampire star, Sylvanius, who finds himself without a movie, an aged aunt who descends maternally on the family, a long and preferably lost red-neck relation, socialite neighbors interested in more than Mr. Pappas' historical novels (yes, he's a writer of historical non-fiction), and Whew!, let's just say: etcetera.

I have to say I really enjoyed it. This guy has a good sense of humor that, coming from an 11-year-old narrator, who introduces his own brother on page 1 as the "Nose Picker," seemed precocious, maybe a little sad, but also made me laugh out loud several times. There were elements to the story that really touched me, like the way our protagonist, Teddy, who finds out that he was adopted, felt he needed to show a strong interest his in father's favorite historical subject, The American Civil War, to make sure that he (the father) would still want him (the son). And I loved the way Kokoris never really tells us what they're doing with the money, just hints at it, leaving it up to us to figure it out. That shows confidence in an educated reader that I don't always see.

On the downside, the story was a bit disjointed. Initially it started off slow, heading in one direction, perhaps a little more introspective and character driven, and then about half-way through it takes off in a more plot-oriented style. Perhaps Kokoris felt he'd already introduced the characters enough and decided to get on with the story. But I think I recognize this from all of my own writing efforts as being a pitfall of a first novel. I'm sure he was just finding his stride. I'm anxious to see what he comes up with next.

Invisible Lizard's Unusual Oranges ( )
1 vote invisiblelizard | Mar 26, 2007 |
I love this story. ( )
  starkradio | Mar 14, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Kokorisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pol, LidyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312300700, Paperback)

After Teddy loses his mother to a car accident, he and his young brother are left with their eccentric Civil War professor father, who is more able to discuss Confederate footwear than his sons' day at school. But Teddy's father plays the lottery with his wife's old numbers, and wins $190 million, immediately transforming their lives forever. For the first time, the family must learn what "the rich part of life" really is. Creating the perfect balance of humor and pathos, Jim Kokoris takes us on an unforgettable journey through the ups and downs of this revelation of unexpected wealth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:14 -0400)

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"Teddy Pappas is an eleven-year-old boy forced into maturity before his time. He lives with his younger brother and their eccentric Civil War historian father, a man more comfortable with discussing Confederate footwear than what kind of day his sons had. Their lives have been quiet for a year since the real lifeblood of their household, Teddy's mother, died in a tragic car accident. On the one-year anniversary of her death, Teddy's stoic father plays his wife's favorite lottery numbers in a tender, uncharacteristic act. When it turns out that the family holds the $190 million winning ticket, their world is instantly transformed.". "Seemingly overnight, a host of colorful characters demands their attention, including Teddy's hilarious aunt and uncle, a beautiful divorcee, a desperate former soap opera star, and a menacing stranger who threatens the very core of the family. As events spiral out of control, the family struggles to discover what "the rich part of life" really is."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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