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Life Among Giants

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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,866 ratings  ·  282 reviews
An exploration of lives touched by greatness and tragedy in equal measure, Roorbach’s latest novel traces towering Princeton graduate and NFL player–cum–restaurateur David “Lizard” Hochmeyer in his attempt to unravel the tangled conspiracy behind his parents’ murder in 1970. When his parents are killed in front of him at a restaurant, David believes the culprits are connec ...more
Hardcover, 331 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Algonquin Books
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Cynthia
Literary who done it

This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read all year. Roorbach kept me guessing throughout. More importantly he kept me wondering not just who killed but why. The book opens with Lizard’s parents being killed almost at his feet. The story is told through Lizard’s (David) eyes from the murders when he’s 17 through middle age as he and his sister Kate attempt to make sense of their tragedy and to live through and past it. They have many adventures. They’re both athletes. Lizard
...more
Samuel Snoek-Brown
Bill Roorbach is an artist of the human heart, but as a writer, he is pure craftsman. You can see the workmanship in his prose the way you can see it in good handcrafted furniture. Sure, there are moments in this novel where I caught myself thinking, "Oh, I see what you did there," but I don't think this is a bad thing: indeed, reading this novel is an education in crafting a story.

There are problems, I think. There are times when I felt like the novel was three or four different kinds of story
...more
Rebecca
I continue to be amazed at the books magazine reviewers deem as 'worth my time'. "Life Among Giants" certainly wasn't that. An incredibly weird story about a family who lives across the lake from glamorous millionaires, there was little here I found appealing.

Roorbach doesn't tell the story in a linear fashion but skips around. Sometimes this works, here I just found it confusing and it was hard to keep so many characters straight.

The narrator for this tale is David, an incredibly tall and athle
...more
Bennett Gavrish
Grade: C+

L/C Ratio: 70% Literary / 30% Commercial

Thematic Breakdown:
25% - Crime mystery
20% - Family secrets
20% - Tangled love
15% - Culinary arts
10% - Football
5% - Ballet
5% - Connecticut

Addictiveness: High
Movie Potential: 1 Thumb Down
Re-readability: Low


I'm convinced that Life Among Giants was born from four separate book ideas: the professional football player with a dysfunctional family, the world-famous ballerina with a tortured marriage to a rock star, the aspiring chef with a cross-dressin
...more
Bob Mustin
The Charm of Wealth and Fame

I bought this book with fingers crossed. Usually when I buy a book I don’t really know much about or an author I’ve never read, I hedge my bets and buy the e-book version. So buying this one in hardback was an article of faith; this time my crossed fingers boded good fortune.

Roorbach’s book is primarily the story of David “Lizard” Hochmeyer, a football prodigy who as a young boy witnesses his father and mother being shot by a paid assassin. His sister Kate is there, t
...more
Guinotte Wise
Top notch writing! Loved the irony, turns of phrase, clever stuff, wild plot, bits of magic realism here and there. And food enthusiasts will absolutely dig the descriptions of dishes and prep that the restaurant-owner/Miami Dolphin QB/protagonist lovingly puts together. The tension is good, bipolar sister, worthless dad, tennis mom, murder story, sailing bits--this book was worth what I paid for the hardcover (so many aren't). Thoroughly enjoyable. It's not a murder mystery, but there's one in ...more
Rob
Unfortunately, this is far too convoluted to recommend. Too often in this book this reads like the supercharged fantasy of the author, the first-person account of a 6'8" superman, an Adonis with matchless physical gifts who has a very active life, including being Bob Greise and Dan Marino's backup quarterback with the Miami Dolphins and a wildly successful restauranteur AND, of course, a sex god. The eyes roll once too often at the coincidences heaped upon the reader. One major problem, I think, ...more
Clifford
This is a wonderfully written, intricately plotted novel with very fresh characters--from the narrator, a very tall pro football player-turned restaurant owner, to his bipolar sister and pop-philospher husband, to a pair of ballerinas. Sure, there are some far-fetched plot elements, but we know from the beginning that the story is larger than life, and I was happy to go with it. A very rewarding read.
Tfalcone
I was wanting to like this book, but the whole thing - dancers and rockstars, assassins and so on was just too far from reality . There was not a single likeable character.
Larry Hoffer
I'd rate this 4.5 stars if I could...

They say the course of love never quite runs smoothly. For nearly seven-foot-tall David "Lizard" Hochmeyer, that couldn't be more true. A high school senior with a promising football career ahead of him, his life is thrown off course not only by his love for his neighbor, the famed ballerina Sylphide, but by his parents' mysterious murder, and his strange relationship with his mentally ill sister, Kate.

Lizard spends much of his adult life trying to figure out
...more
Linda
The careful reader will want to check out the beautiful drawing on the front of this first edition. An unpublished watercolor and pen and ink drawing, courtesy of the Harvard University Herbaria and Botany Libraries. It, as well as some other clues, will give you insight into, what I must not say. Plus, the title is telling. David, the narrator of this tale, is tall. Very tall. He is a good athlete. So, is his sister Katy. They could be called high school "giants" for their abilities and ambitio ...more
Sandra
I believe the atmosphere, language, and writing are what compelled to keep me reading this book to its end. Though those usually aren't strong enough pulls for me without a good story or characters I care about, in this case the lush descriptions (especially of food) were worked nonchalantly into the flow of the story yet were amazing. And the overall atmosphere was somewhat ethereal or surreal, yet very real at the same time. That, combined with my slight interest in how the mystery/situation(s ...more
Michael
It's hard for me to sort out what I think about this book. There's layer upon layer to peel back, so I'll just refer to general things. The characters were magnificent; I'd give them 5 stars.

The prose was decent, a bit stilted at times and written as though it were meant to be read slowly, which is fine (a book needs to inform you as to how it's meant to be read), it just annoyed me because I don't like having to back and reread sentences because the syntax tripped me up--but there are argument
...more
Jann Barber
Sift together a family consisting of an incredibly tall, athletic son, a lovely younger daughter, a mother who wants to be socially known in the right circles, and a father who is shadier than anyone should be. Mix with a family across the lake made up of a well-known rock star, his wife, a prominent ballerina known throughout the world, and the rocker's son from another liaison who needs a lot of individual care and attention. Stir thoroughly and sprinkle in thugs, murder, mental issues, sex, c ...more
Laura
There was so much I absolutely loved about this book that it was hard to give it a star rating: the book is a murder mystery but Roorbach is a seasoned, sophisticated writer, and I found myself falling in love with the background details of the story and caring less about the whodunit. The larger than life Sylphyde, a prima ballerina whose involvement in the main character's father's murder is suspect throughout the book, is a wonderful character, flawed in the way of the best literary heros, ma ...more
Rich Fahle
I was drawn into the story right away, a combination coming-of-age story about the narrator (the huge former NFL quarterback David "Lizard" Hochmeyer) and murder whodunnit that kept me wondering what happened and to whom exactly all the way until the very last few pages. At the center of the story is a world famous prima ballerina pulling all the strings between the many overlapping storylines and characters. Lizard, the narrator, is a sort of modern day Nick Carraway from the Great Gatsby - pul ...more
Matt Rohweder
There are certain books that when you begin reading them, you think: this is a book I will enjoy. And Life Among Giants is one such books. I thought immediately that I would enjoy this book...the unfortunate thing is that I did not. So much of what this book is about had the potential to touch me - the story of a boy who loses both his parents, the struggle to understand that, a constant struggle to have meaning in his life. All should have spoken to me, yet all I felt as annoyed.

Perhaps it was
...more
Holly
This book is a murder mystery though it doesn't always present itself as such. Once the murder happens, there's a lot of going back and forth in history, some of which works effectively and some of which doesn't. There's a little of everything thrown in here...football, ballet, fine dining, rock 'n roll, money laundering, nefarious characters...basically something for everyone. I found the first part of the book, where the story realy unfolds, to be exciting and well told. The middle of the book ...more
Snotchocheez
I wanted very much to love Life Among Giants. I'm all about some quirkiness, and Roorbach's style is very reminiscent of John Irving's. There was just something, I dunno, off about the tone of this thing that kept me from embracing it wholesale. It wants to be a funny coming of age story (focusing, primarily, upon the life of "Lizard" Hochmeyer, a-shade-under-7'0" Miami Dolphins star) but the often very funny plot development and rich characterizations run counter to the very unfunny, and very b ...more
Ann
I read a number of excellent reviews for Bill Roorbach’s “Life Among Giants: A Novel” and I eagerly looked forward to reading the book. The two main characters are David, known as Lizard, is the young giant and star football player and Lizard’s sister Kate who is a top seeded tennis player. The book opens with their parents being killed almost at their feet and the story is told through Lizard’s eyes as they attempt to make sense of their tragedy and live through and past it.

I found the plot sta
...more
Jackie
This book has a lot going on: murder (and other crimes), mystery, mental illness, revenge, love stories, professional sports, ballet, rock and roll, gangsters, sex, intrigue, family dynamics, foodie stuff, suicide, drugs and much, much more. It's comic at times, heart breaking at others, moving fluidly around different eras of David "Lizard" Hochmeyer's life. It's sometimes confusing (because Lizard is often confused by what is going on around him) but completely absorbing and very difficult to ...more
Candace
I'm sort of conflicted about this book, which I thought was beautifully written but strangely plotted. There's a shocking and heartbreaking mystery at the center of the story, if only Roorback got to it. Instead there is a lot of fuss all around it, lead by unconvincing characters. I never bought the lovely dancer Sylphide and her rocker husband. I did believe Lizard, his parents, and the mystery of family. Note that I read this novel in galley form so some changes may be forthcoming.
Adri
Wonderful to read such a well-constructed book. It is a coming of age story, a murder mystery, and also a family drama. I loved the main character and could associate with his feelings, his thoughts. Definitely a book I will read again.

An interesting look at the giants in our lives. There are many interesting perspectives about ballet, football, food, etc as metaphors for life. Relationships and their various functions are central to this story.
Sarah
*Small spoiler* It took me longer than usual to read this book, especially given than it is a rather short novel. Enjoyed the author's writing in regards to the language he used to describe various topics, specifically the cuisine. Honestly, I thought about dropping the book altogether half way through, but decided to finish it out to see who murdered David and Kate's parents. The story did pick up once you figured out who was involved.
Tuck
Roorbach’s new novel combines a rather mysterious murder investigation (taking many decades to solve) and the most delicious cold dish, and a profootball player turned chef, and a dead English rock star, and his ballerina wife/lover, and highschool and college sports in the ivy leagues, and banksters. I never have read any roorbach, but this is well worth it, smart, funny, intrigue, some hot sex, and ginger baker even.
Dolly Anderson
This reminded me a lot of the same writing style as Kate Atkinson,(author of such novels as Started Early Took My Dog) whom hits you upfront with the main incident and then slowly takes you through the back drop with stories (memories)about each of the characters lives or encounters with them at different points all somehow intertwined. As you read you gain more insight into their make up, their relationship with the main character, in this case,David Hockmeyer aka Lizard. Then 3/4 of the way th ...more
Holly Brown
Like a lot of negative reviews, this one starts with the disclaimer: I wanted to like this book. It's hard to pan a novel by someone as talented as Bill Roorbach. His sentences can be truly gorgeous, and I really envy his flair for figurative language. However, this book features my absolute biggest pet peeve about literary fiction: There's a complete absence of narrative tension. I'm not talking about suspense exactly; I'm talking about something that compels you to want to read the next chapte ...more
Robert
Eh. It was fine. I think that a lot of it was repetitive, it kept beating the same themes and plot points over my head. But, it moved quickly and was definitely interesting. It was so divorced from reality though, it was hard to fall in love with the characters. And this is coming from someone who loves fantasy lit.
Louis Mande
This murder mystery is unusual for the genre. Life Among Giants is a character driven novel. It is very well written with many twists and turns. For you foodies, the description of food preparation is scrumptious. There is even something for athletes. Excellent book.
Diana
Finally, finally finished this book. Really bogs down in the middle, I'm sad to say. I was disappointed since it had good reviews. Maybe just not for me.
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Bill Roorbach's newest novel is The Remedy For Love, coming October 2014 from Algonquin Books. Life Among Giants, also from Algonquin, is in development for a multi-year series at HBO, and won the 2014 Maine Literary Award in Fiction. Big Bend: Stories has just be re-released by Georgia in its Flannery O'Connor Award series. Temple Stream is soon to be re-released by Down East Books. Bill is also ...more
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