Man Alive!: A Novel

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On the last day of his family’s summer vacation at the beach, lighting strikes Owen Lerner while placing a quarter in a parking meter. Owen is literally blown off his feet and revels in the ecstatic experience, despite the pain. The specialists who perform the skin grafts, brain scans, and physical therapy consider Owen to be a lucky man, but Owen and his family are less sure. After he returns home from the hospital, Owen tries to recreate the experience as best he can; he gets a tattoo of the marks left on his arm, collects lighting-related paraphernalia, and considers quitting his job as a psychopharmacologist to barbeque meat full time. His wife, twin sons, and teenaged daughter all suffer identity crises in the wake of their father’s illness as they try to understand their relationship to this new man and each other. Will the family ever recover?

I found Man Alive! to be a difficult book to read. Zuravleff spends much of the narrative examining the contents of the characters’ heads without advancing the plot. It’s hard to have such an intimate view of individual and familial deterioration. I was saddened and disheartened as I watched the characters self-destruct and disappointed by the ending’s meager offer of hope.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date 2013-Sep-03
ISBN 9780374202316 Buy this Book
Issue January 2014
Category Modern Literature


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