Something for Nothing
Martin Anderson has a racehorse, a deep-sea fishing boat, a vacation home in Tahoe, and a Caddy in the garage. But his life is in freefall. It 's the 1970s, and with the arrival of the oil crisis and gas rationing, his small aircraft business is tanking, as is his extravagant suburban lifestyle. Martin keeps many secrets from his wife, such as his mounting debt and his pen...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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I got totally absorbed in this book and really enjoyed it. The protagonist, Martin Anderson, is (objectively) kind of a jerk/ definitely a screw up, but you get sucked into rooting for him despite his hypocrisy and cringe-worthy misdeeds. To me, that is excellent character development. His kids are intriguing--we only see them through his eyes. He loves them alot but sees their flaws (as he does not see his own). I think Anthony really pulls it off in that I was in suspense hoping Martin would g...more
I absolutely loved this book. In fact, last night we lost power and I was so enthralled that I read it by flashlight. The writing is sharp and the characterizations even more so: this is a tale of threatened masculinity in the Bay Area suburbs of the 1970s (a time that is very politically and socially resonant for us now), of achieving status and saving face and yet still trying desperately to connect and be whole. The main character, Martin, does a lot of crazy things, and yet he never stops se...more
The main character was flat, and his family was nothing more than empty character shells. Reading some Franzen would provide instruction on how to flesh out these characters through their external interactions and better internal dialogue (main character's internal dialogue was unhelpful, and none of the other characters had any, despite third-person narrative). Truthfully, this book deserved more like a 2-2.5, but I rounded up for three reasons: 1) It is set in the 1970s in the Bay Area, where...more
I found this book riveting and absorbing from page one. Set in the Bay Area in the early 1970s, the novel charts the descent of Martin Anderson, a married father of two who turns to drug smuggling in an attempt to save his failing aircraft business. Desperate to dodge downward mobility, Martin does a series of incredibly stupid and even reprehensible things. But your heart is breaking for the guy the whole way through, because what he wants most of all are things that money can't buy: simple app...more
I finished this book in two days. Its only drawback is that it’s only 300-odd pages. I don’t read very often and usually don’t enjoy mystery or crime novels. When I do pick a book up, I keep to Tom Clancy and similar stuff, but Something for Nothing really drew me in. It’s not cheesy, obvious or frivolous. It manages to be suspenseful and serious while being funny. Martin’s perspective makes a lot of passages that could be plain depressing comical, especially in the last half of the book. His in...more
Funny, I had the exact opposite reaction to Jeremy. I also just finished "Visit to the Goon Squad," which was really good and had fun pyrotechnics, but "Something for Nothing" was a relief afterwards precisely because of its great character development. Egan's book ricocheted around from character to character, but I felt like I got to know and eventually root for Martin Andersen, even though he was pretty foolish and a little weird. I am also relieved that the author *doesn't* take Franzen's le...more
This was a really great book. Honestly, I laughed out loud a bunch of times while reading it--it was very darkly ironic. And when I wasn't laughing I was worrying about the main character. He does some creepy things and he makes horrible mistakes (like smuggling drugs!), but he's someone I could relate to, mainly because he just wants to connect and be a part of things, but isn't able to. Things get more and more exciting as the book goes along, and the ending is very exciting.
I wish I could give this 3 1/2 stars because I feel that it rates better than three stars but not quite four. The beginning was a little slow but then I got into it. I could totally see this becoming a movie. I loved the ending. Don't want to give any spoilers but it was just perfect.
David Anthony grew up in the Bay Area. He is an associate professor of early American literature in the Department of English at SIU-Carbondale. SOMETHING FOR NOTHING is his first novel.More about David Anthony...