NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE AND THE HUFFINGTON POST • Features an exclusive conversation between Julia Pierpont and Lena Dunham
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.
Praise for Among the Ten Thousand Things
“A luscious, smart summer novel . . . by a blazingly talented young author.”—The New York Times Book Review
“This book is one of the funniest, and most emotionally honest, I’ve read in a long time.”—Jonathan Safran Foer
“Obsessively compelling . . . emotionally sophisticated . . . Among the Ten Thousand Things rises above [other novels] for its imagined structure, sentence-by-sentence punch, and pure humanity.”—Vanity Fair
“Gripping . . . Pierpont brings this family of four to life in sharply observed detail. . . . An acute observer of social comedy, Ms. Pierpont has a keen eye for the absurd.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Pierpont’s language is heart-stopping. . . . Between Pierpont’s literary finesse and her captivating characters, [Among the Ten Thousand Things] reads like a page-turner.”—Entertainment Weekly (grade: A)
“A twisty, gripping story—that packs an emotional wallop.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“There are going to be as many ingenious twists and turns in this literary novel as there are in a top-notch work of suspense like Gone Girl.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Tender, delicately perceptive . . . Pierpont’s voice is wry and confident, and she is a fine anthropologist of New York life.”—The Washington Post
“Pierpont displays a precocious gift for language and observation. . . . She captures the minutiae of loneliness that pushes us away from each other and sometimes brings us back.”—San Francisco Chronicle
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Jack, a middle-aged artist in New York, has built a reasonably successful life and career on the back of a series of poor decisions. When Jack’s precarious existence implodes, his wife and children—each with their own secrets and regrets—get caught up in the calamitous aftermath. Told from multiple perspectives, Julia Pierpont’s sly and dazzling debut novel examines the daily intimacies and treacheries that define a family—and the lasting, often unexpected repercussions of our choices.
The perennial theme of marital infidelity is given a brisk, insightful, and sophisticated turn in Pierpont's impressive debut. When their father's emails to his former mistress are inadvertently discovered by siblings Kay Shanley, 11, and Simon, 15, the result is the unraveling of the family. Their father, Jack Shanley, is a well-known conceptual artist and self-indulgent seducer, and he sees his career go downhill due to a variety of circumstances. Deb, his wife, carries guilt from having broken up Jack's first marriage, only to realize that he's an inveterate womanizer who feels his indiscretions should be forgiven. Pierpont's keen observational gaze illuminates a strata of Manhattan society in which money and privilege abide alongside the gritty, drug-and-alcohol-fueled margins of social behavior. She is also particularly adept at portraying alienation in the young (Kay starts writing dirty Seinfeld fan fiction in a notebook; Simon reads The Fountainhead because he knows his mother doesn't want him to) and the parents' awkward attempts to communicate with their self-protective children. Her sense of humor surfaces, especially in a scene at a gallery opening, when Jack's carefully planned and shocking installation goes awry. Pierpont throws an audacious twist midway through the book, giving the slow, painful denouement a heartbreaking inevitability. This novel leaves an indelible portrait of lives blown off course by bad choices, loss of trust, and an essential inability to communicate.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Among Ten Thousand Things
This book was only ok. I enjoyed the beginning of it and then it pretty much went down from there. Would not recommend.
Among ten thousand things
This book caught my attention and then became very depressing. I never finished reading it because it made me sad.
Among the Ten Thousand Things
Okay, I was looking forward to the brilliant first novel for this new voice in fiction. I read carefully, trying to use my insight to find what the author was trying to convey. Well, either she failed or I did. This is not a linear story, and it takes a while to realize that it really doesn't have much substance. Cannot recommend.