The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories
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The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  29 reviews
"Levine’s stories are riveting and subtle, shot through with a muted wisdom and palpable compassion." ―Publisher's Weekly Tom Mahoney is the golden boy everyone knew in school: good-looking, charming, an athlete---sought after by women, the envy of men. His success in life seems a foregone conclusion. In The Appearance of a Hero, Tom navigates the passage into adulthood, h...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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I received this book as an advanced reading copy from Goodreads First Reads.

The book is a compilation of short stories that comprise Tom Mahoney's life, as seen through the eyes of others. I started laughing from the very first page, though the stories grew a bit more somber. Part of my admiration for the book is because I empathize with the main character so much, seeing bits and pieces of him in my own life. The other half is the storytelling by Peter Levine, which I truly enjoyed. The charac...more
Amelia Caraballo
I received this book as an ARC and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It's not something that I would typically pick up and read, but I was hooked to it and was able to finish this story within a day.
While reading this book -which is from the point of view of many people- you'll be following the story of Tom Mahoney, a
good-looking, genuinely nice guy who seems to catch everyone's attention, men and women alike. But as he reaches that age, something from Tom's life is missing and he's not quit...more
Adrienne Urbanski
Disclaimer: I received this book as a Goodreads First Readsgiveaway.

Peter Levine's writing bears a strong resemblance to the work of Raymond Carver, both in terms of theme and style, as well as Ernest Hemingway. This is due to his preference for simple, understated language, free of lengthy metaphor and unnecessary description, as well as his focus on the sexual relationships between men and women as well as the friendships between men. All of the stories in the collection are about the characte...more
Vicki Sitron
What I found so remarkable and ingenious about “The Appearance of a Hero” was how each of the ten stories here provided a different perspective on the book’s central character, Tom Mahoney. Combined, they made for one of my favorite reads of the past five years.

At times, Tom is the main focus of the story, and at other times he’s working in the backdrop, informing the outcome of the story. He’s eerily familiar—one of those people who everyone wants to be around but who is completely unaware of h...more
Tom Mahoney lives in every one of us. He lives, he loves, he grows, he fails. Having just finished reading "The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories", I must compliment the author for such an introspective view of a man told from the perspective of various individuals. I read the novel in one sitting, eagerly anticipating each successive story. A different city, a different story, yet all the same. Friends, acquaintances, relatives -- yet, we can only rely on ourselves for strength.
Fascinating. I felt like a bit of a voyeur reading these short stories, but who doesn't like peeking in on the private, honest moments of everyday people? Ok, maybe that's just something that interests me. This isn't a feel-good book, or exactly satisfying. After reading, I felt like there were a few unanswered questions regarding the characters, but I would rather be left wanting more than being bored with excessive fluff. Also, I can't help but wonder if that was the point of this book- feelin...more
This book definitely affected me. While reading it, I felt confused and unsettled. I kept waiting for a plot, and never found one. It's a disturbing group of short stories that, to me, resonated with feelings of hopelessness and the pointlessness of one's existence. Upon finishing the book, I was left feeling melancholy and slightly anxious. I received this book free through Goodreads First Reads.
I highly recommend this book by my friend Peter Levine. He is a wonderful story teller who creates vivid, relatable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Tom and all the people he touches along the way. I'm really glad I read this book and you will be too!
Cindy Vu
I picked up this title from the "new books" section at my library because one of the critics in the back cover blurb compared it to Fitzgerald's 'Gatsby,' my absolute favorite. These stories are laid out in vignettes of the same character, Tom Mahoney.

I'm more of a reader than a writer/critic, and from this perspective I just couldn't put this book down. I just wanted to know more about this main character, which is probably what most people in the story felt about him as well. He certainly liv...more
Ashlea (
This was one of those things that was such a great idea I'd wished I'd had it myself: a collection of stories about a person from everyone else's point of view, but without ever giving that person a voice. The picture that emerges of Tom, the hero of this collection, is purposely fragmented and partial. It's like assembling a puzzle without having a picture on the box to work from. And there might be some pieces missing as well.

Tom is popular with everyone he meets; a former baseball player; cur...more
I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy in a giveaway on GoodReads.

Ok. I will be honest. I didn't really get the overall plot to this book. Every chapter is a story, told from or about a person who knew a man. That man was Tom Mahoney. They aren't so much stories of him, but stories that involved him, where he was a supporting character. You see buddies he went to college with, and coworkers from different cities he lived in. You read about women he dated, and his father who worries abo...more
i really liked the author's writing style, and i was really hooked on this tom character. however, i kept on waiting for some kind of mystery to take place, or answers to some questions i had, based on why certain things were included in the book. like, why did his dad seem to get overworked when their friend was telling them about the code pink? why were the older couple lilian and marty, who befriended amy and josh, included in the story? they only met tom at the auction fundraiser. there seem...more
First of all, "The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories" was a book that I had won through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I thank Goodreads and Peter Levine for this book.

Tom Mahoney: businessman, good looking, athletic, dynamic, and popular both with men and women. This is a series of short stories on Tom's life as he is starting to fade out of the lives of people he once knew. Tom had some romantic relationships that fizzled out, jobs that got him really no where in life, and a f...more
Great structure for a book of short stories: each is told from the point of view of various acquaintances of Tom Mahoney. The reader is able to piece together the main character through these fragments. More interesting, however, is Tom's influence on each of the acquaintances. How they think of Tom seems to be the main point, as opposed to Tom himself.
This book does not feature particularly likeable or compelling characters, but it still manages to be an interesting social commentary. For some...more
Apr 12, 2014 Lesley added it
Shelves: anthology
snaps for anal sex on page 1
I won this book as an ARC from GoodReads.

I am not usually one for short stories. But this book was very, very good. I really enjoyed how Levine took one character as a center point through the whole book. I kept looking forward to seeing how things where going unwrap.

I would recommend this book to friends. Thank you for the chance to read it. I hope it does as well as it deserves!!!!!
I received this book as a First Reads giveaway. I feel like this book wasn't intended for me - I wasn't too terribly interested in the characters, but the writing was vivid enough to keep me interested enough to keep reading it. I do like short stories though, because it was several shorter pieces from different perspectives, which kept my attention much better than if it had been longer.
Bonnie Auslander
F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Raymond Carver!

Pete Levine's book is a great commentary on masculinity and class in contemporary America. But it reads as effortlessly and as soberly as a Raymond Carver short story with a touch of sexy Anais Nin thrown in. Not only is Levine sociologically astute--even disturbingly so--he is also a dazzling master of prose rhythm. Highly recommended!
Katy Barrett
I wasn't crazy about this book. Tom remained vague for me throughout the book, and I was never sure if or why I should care about him. I'm not entirely sure if this was because of the book itself, though, or because I read it while fighting a cold/sinus infection. It's possible it was just ME who was vague. In any case, I remain not-crazy about this book.
Elon Fischer
Pretty interesting collection of stories all about the protagonist (TM) who we never hear from. Instead, he's the absent presence (though he does make lots of appearances). The book is really about how others project TM as a hero, someone to look up to, as a way of fulfilling their own needs and filling the holes in their own lives.
An intriguing idea for a collection of stories that pushed me to think more about the unsettling struggle sometimes involved in differentiating between perception and reality.
W Sampson
I was a contest winner ans received this book from goodreads.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book in the way the author told the story. It's short stories told from different perspectives, all relating around a central character. It's a very nice read.
Sorry... just didn't like this one, not enough substance and extremely crude. Maybe I'm a bit of a prude, but there you have it ;)

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
Stacie Gentzler
Absolutely fascinating book. A breath of fresh air. Twenty and thirty-somethings can all identify very well with these characters and this collection. Wonderful storytelling by Peter Levine!
May 25, 2013 Katrina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Realistic Fiction Fans
Shelves: adult, fiction
This was an interesting collection of stories about one man's life told by everybody except himself. Unique and thoughtful.
Only made it through part of the first story. I couldn't find any purpose to the writing.
First reads book. Have had a lot of things going on so have barely started this book.
Natalie Muster
There's really no point to the book and I couldn't understand that very ending
Waste of time.
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Ask Peter Levine: Tom Mahoney 2 3 Feb 16, 2013 12:24PM  
Tom Mahoney 1 3 Oct 28, 2012 03:58PM  
Peter Levine earned his M.F.A. from The Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, StoryQuarterly, and elsewhere. He has held residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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