A New York Times Notable Book
“A wonderful book, and there’s no one I would not urge to read it . . . This is the work of a fluid, confident and profoundly talented writer who gets more fluid, more confident and seemingly more talented even within the book itself.” —Dave Eggers, New York Times Book Review
A highly inventive and corrosively funny story of our times, Want Not exposes three different worlds in various states of disrepair—a young freegan couple living off the grid in New York City; a once-prominent linguist, sacked at midlife by the dissolution of his marriage and his father’s losing battle with Alzheimer’s; and a self-made debt-collecting magnate, whose brute talent for squeezing money out of unlikely places has yielded him a royal existence, trophy wife included.
Want and desire propel these characters forward toward something, anything, more, until their worlds collide, briefly, randomly, yet irrevocably, in a shattering ending that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.
“Shrewd, funny, and sometimes devastating . . . What Want Not does best, though, isn’t plotting but portraits of humanity: the small epiphanies and private hurts of every person whose life, like the detritus they produce, is as beautifully mundane and unique as a fingerprint.” —Entertainment Weekly
“An impassioned work of fiction.” —Dallas Morning News
This ambitious, if somewhat overlong second novel from Miles (Dear American Airlines) concerns the tribulations of three very different, but interconnected, families in the New York City metropolitan area, beginning during Thanksgiving weekend 2007. Talmadge Bertrand and Micah Rye are freegan squatters in downtown Manhattan, subsisting on what they collect from dumpsters. After Micah becomes pregnant, Talmadge begins questioning whether their lifestyle is suited to raising a child. Elwin Cross Jr., a middle-aged linguistics professor living in suburban New Jersey, has recently been left by his wife, Maura, for one of her publicity clients. Distraction from his troubles comes from an offer to consult on a contentious government panel studying the safe, long-term disposal of radioactive waste. Forty-something mother and part-time actress Sara Masoli struggles with her husband Brian s tragic death in the 9/11 attacks, while raising her headstrong teenage daughter, Alexis. Sara s current husband, the smart but immature Dave, runs a profitable, shady debt-collection agency. Though an excess of backstory and character detail sometimes slows the book s pace, mordant humor and a well-constructed plot manage to hold together Miles s sophomore effort.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Absorbing and challenging and sometimes overly longwinded, but a damed good read. The author ties together three seemingly unrelated threads and leaves this reader with a grateful sense of completion.
Want Not is wonderful! It's funny, sad, and so very true to life.