Friday, July 18, 2008

Pg. 99: Jonathan Evison's "All About Lulu"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Jonathan Evison's All About Lulu.

About the book, from the publisher:
William Miller--confirmed mamma's boy and weak eyed vegetarian in a family of bodybuilders--learns at a tender age what amounts to the Cartesian dictum for bodybuilders everywhere: no pain, no gain. I hurt, therefore I am--words he learns to live by in the wake of his mother's death. When his father remarries a relentlessly kind grief counselor, Will falls in love with his troubled step-sister, Lulu. But as Lulu's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and inexplicably cruel, Will's sense of identity begins to founder. Faced with the knowledge that he can never hold the key to Lulu's heart, Will only clings harder to her, until his unwanted affection drives Lulu into a pattern of self-destruction which follows her into adolescence.

Lulu's departure to college, marks for Will the beginning of a personal odyssey which includes a crash course in western philosophy, a series of epic bad dates, and the enduring friendship of a poultry-obsessed former Soviet wrestler turned free-market capitalist, with whom he establishes Hot Dog Heaven on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Working nights as a producer at the college station, Will catches a break one night when the overnight host eats bad razor clams, forcing Will to take the mic without warning, where his performance catches the ear of the program director. In a world made of meat, a world where the corporeal is everything, and identity is measured in mounds of flesh and striated muscle, Will finally discovers his strength in the disembodied voice of his late-night radio persona.

But when Lulu self-destructs, William is drawn back into her life, and ultimately discovers that Lulu was never who he believed her to be.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Evison's debut is a stunner! ... viciously funny and deeply felt ..."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"All about Lulu reads like Salinger for the Freaks and Geeks-meets-Wes Anderson crowd, a whip smart Gen X Lolita (sans pedophilia)... an auspicious debut for a writer with equal parts heart and reckless verve."

“Most novels in which a boy must oil up his bodybuilder father for competition would merit our attention, but that detail is just one of many amazements on offer in All About Lulu. Will the Thrill is a great literary charmer, and through his rich voice Jonathan Evison has concocted a funny and painfully honest piece of fiction.”
--Sam Lipsyte, author of Homeland

“At once exuberant and clear-eyed, scabrous and wise, Jonathan Evison's All About Lulu has something for every reader--love, betrayal, growth and, ultimately, redemption--all wrapped in the addictive voice of William Miller, Evison's fiercely likeable narrator.”
--Keith Dixon, author of The Art of Losing

"The star-crossed lovers at the center of All About Lulu forge a middle ground between Archie and Veronica and Kurt and Courtney. Evison has delivered a witty, understated, heartfelt, and, at times, almost unnervingly honest debut."
--Adam Langer, author of Crossing California

"Jonathan Evison is a killer talent, and All About Lulu is the kind of novel readers have been hungry for: Funny, smart, entertaining -- an all around delight. Literary fiction needs more books like this; maybe then people would stop talking about the Death of the Novel and just read and enjoy themselves."
--Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng
Read an excerpt from All About Lulu, and learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Evison's website.

Jonathan Evison has worked a wide array of jobs from syndicated talk radio host to rotten tomato sorter--in the former role, his comedy show "Shaken Not Stirred" was nominated for two Peabody Awards. He has received two Silver Microphones, and two Communicators and was frequently nominated for the Soundie Award.He is the founder and moderator of the FICTION FILES, a forum for literary discussion.

The Page 99 Test: All About Lulu

--Marshal Zeringue