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FREE ⚢ If This Is Home õ A dazzling first novel from the critically acclaimed author of Ten Stories About SmokingMark Wilkinson has three names He left his own behind in the rainy north of England American immigration knows him as Joe Novak And at the Valhalla, the mysterious complex where he sells lofty ambition and dark desires, he goes by Mr JonesSince he was eighteen, Mark has been running away Running from his small town, his vanished mother, his broken father But one night in Las Vegas, shocked by violence and ambushed by memories, he is propelled back to his real name and his real past Back to Bethany Wilder carnival queen, partner in dreams, and tragic ghostFrom the acclaimed author of Ten Stories About Smoking comes an electrifying novel about the power of dreams to destroy, of memory to distort and of what it means to be home There s some good or at least competent writing here, but the author has made the mistake of writing two disparate storylines and then never letting them come together Two books in one Mark Wilkinson decides to leave his mundane small town English life behind for a new start in the US He finds himself in Las Vegas where he becomes involved in a truly surreal luxury complex named Valhalla This section of the book is frankly weird and it s a relief when he decides he needs to head back to E There s some good or at least competent writing here, but the author has made the mistake of writing two disparate storylines and then never letting them come together Two books in one Mark Wilkinson decides to leave his mundane small town English life behind for a new start in the US He finds himself in Las Vegas where he becomes involved in a truly surreal luxury complex named Valhalla This section of the book is frankly weird and it s a relief when he decides he needs to head back to England, and think again about the events that led to him leaving in the first place The England section works much better and although the plot is fairly mundane, the characters come to life in a way that the US ones don t A tale of love and loss, belonging and dislocation, a coming of age story and a love story all this but nothing very original and I found the book ultimately unmemorable Joe Novak is having a bit of a crisis For the past few years he s been working at the Valhalla, a posh getaway where middle aged rich men get to have all of their wishes granted and desires realized Joe likes his job well enough and he s making good money, too but he s also slowly losing his mind He is haunted by his past, especially by the memory of his first love, Bethany He s even starting to see and have involved conversations with her His coworkers are worried about him, and Joe isn Joe Novak is having a bit of a crisis For the past few years he s been working at the Valhalla, a posh getaway where middle aged rich men get to have all of their wishes granted and desires realized Joe likes his job well enough and he s making good money, too but he s also slowly losing his mind He is haunted by his past, especially by the memory of his first love, Bethany He s even starting to see and have involved conversations with her His coworkers are worried about him, and Joe isn t feeling the best about himself either He s restless and on edge Eventually a really bad day at work leaves him no choice but to travel back home to England so he can come to terms with his past.I m still not entirely sure what to make of this book I was really into the first half I liked reading about the Valhalla and the weird Eyes Wide Shut like fantasy thing going on It was creepy and gross, but interesting But after Joe leaves the U.S to fly back to England, his time in the U.K has basically nothing to do with the Valhalla at all The story never even circles back around to connect the two plot lines together The second half was still strong and kept my interest, but I kept waiting for Evers to tie up the loose ends and he never did.Ultimately, I was satisfied for the most part with the final mystery reveal, but, unfortunately, If This Is Home read like two incomplete stories clumsily smushed together All the pieces were there, but they just didn t fit like they needed to So I ve been a a bit prejudiced lately I pine for long, luxurious, complicated sentences and words,resplendent and evocative than the ideas they represent With the exception of one author dead now, unfortunately I have found modern literature disappointing short, direct sentences, uncomplicated and unoriginal plots, and frankly a lack of spark Mr Evers, as I intimated to my wife, has emerged finally as a living author I can truly say inspires me This novel, though it started si So I ve been a a bit prejudiced lately I pine for long, luxurious, complicated sentences and words,resplendent and evocative than the ideas they represent With the exception of one author dead now, unfortunately I have found modern literature disappointing short, direct sentences, uncomplicated and unoriginal plots, and frankly a lack of spark Mr Evers, as I intimated to my wife, has emerged finally as a living author I can truly say inspires me This novel, though it started similarly short sentences, terse language after 20 30 pages Evers really opens up and the novel blossoms in multiple ways Though he keeps a modern tongue and has none of the challenge and flourish of the post modernists, Evers is a brilliant story teller The subtle restraint of his style hides the tiny bombs of utter depravity and loss superbly and the result is an intense journey that not only entertains, it compels with a force I find lacking in the past decade s literary offerings His language loosens a bit near 1 2 past but the treat and reward of this novel is the rich, unique, unfolding narrative The text challenges throughout I had myriad theories as I read and comes to rest, a bit unexpectedly, fulfilling and perfect Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally Definitely the most interesting thing about Stuart Evers new novel If This Is Home is the ultra rich Las Vegas condo complex Valhalla where our narrator is working as the book opens, a great symbol for everything wrong with America right now a glittering house of cards designed expressly to fleece the em Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally Definitely the most interesting thing about Stuart Evers new novel If This Is Home is the ultra rich Las Vegas condo complex Valhalla where our narrator is working as the book opens, a great symbol for everything wrong with America right now a glittering house of cards designed expressly to fleece the empty consumerist one percenters out of their money, prospective buyers are shuttled around to what they are told are the most exclusive clubs and restaurants of the complex during their weekend hard sell tour, not realizing that the other locked rooms they are passing are in fact completely empty and are given a complex set of rules they re admonished to follow but that are never actually enforced, in order to let these people feel like they re getting away with something they shouldn t because of their wealth and status In fact, it often feels like it was Valhalla that Evers first envisioned when starting to work on this novel, and only afterwards filled in a hasty, cliche filled three act narrative to justify the book s existence, a shame given how strong the Las Vegas parts are The story of British expat Mark Wilkinson, who has transformed himself into the cooler,sociopathic alter ego Joe Novak in America, the book s structure is basically broken up into three parts we mostly stay at Valhalla for the first half, until a shocking act of violence according to the dust jacket synopsis , which in fact is not actually that shocking at all , inspires him to go back to his small British hometown for the first time in a decade, where we spend the second half of the novel then weaving in and out of both these halves is a flashback look at the young love relationship he used to be in, and whose tragic ending is what convinced him to flee to the US in the first place And seriously, when you set up a place like Valhalla like the owners have, heavily touted to its billionaire customers as a place where every desire imaginable is accommodated, I don t know why it would come as a shock when one of them ends up beating up a prostitute in fact, I would just assume that the first question out of the mouth of every asshole who shows up is, Say, when do I get to kill a hooker Like I said, the first half is interesting enough, presenting us with a fully fleshed out bacchanalian nightmare and letting us glimpse the boring behind the scenes grunt work that makes it happen, and teasing us with a backstory about a past girlfriend who had something bad happen to her, even though we don t know what, why, or by whom But the entire second half of the book unfortunately just kind of falls apart, with Evers seemingly not knowing what to do with the story and so falling back on the most hacky tropes possible Mark spends literally 150 pages wandering around his old hometown doing nothing in particular, with all his old acquaintances and family members disproportionally furious at him merely for leaving 13 years ago and not dropping anyone a postcard instead they all react to his re appearance with the kind of anger you would expect if he had actually killed the woman , and eventually with Mark hallucinating the ghost of his ex girlfriend following him around, being smartass and challenging to him as a way of pushing him into the family confrontations he came there to have, about the most tired cliche you can even evoke in a murder mystery thriller.Most disturbingly of all, though, what is teased throughout the book as a big reveal about Mark s girlfriend s tragic end turns out to not be a big reveal at all, a plot development I ll let remain a surprise but that I can assure you has not even the tiniest bit to do with the entire rest of the novel and in fact this horrific act of violence against her seems to only exist in the first place so that Mark himself can go through an emotional journey of self discovery afterward, a plain and clear example of the Women in Refrigerators phenomenon that s been rightly receiving so much critical protest in the last few years That s a disappointing way to end a novel that started with so much promise and it s a shame that Evers could never come up with other things as clever and well thought out as Valhalla to fill the rest of this noble but often deeply flawed story It comes with only a limited recommendation today because of that, a book that some will likethan me, but that most people will be generally disappointed by.Out of 10 6.9