Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Life Among Giants” as Want to Read:
Life Among Giants
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Life Among Giants

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,299 Ratings  ·  332 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Life Among Giants, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Life Among Giants

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Samuel Snoek-Brown
Dec 05, 2012 Samuel Snoek-Brown rated it really liked it
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
Nov 13, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
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
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
Bennett Gavrish
Jan 16, 2013 Bennett Gavrish rated it liked it
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
Mar 17, 2013 Clifford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
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.
Bob Mustin
Feb 11, 2013 Bob Mustin rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2012 Sandra rated it it was ok
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
Guinotte Wise
Dec 30, 2012 Guinotte Wise rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 08, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok
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
Nov 27, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
*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.
Dec 27, 2012 Tfalcone rated it it was ok
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
Nov 23, 2012 Larry Hoffer rated it really liked it
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
Mar 24, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 27, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jann Barber
Jan 04, 2013 Jann Barber rated it liked it
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
Oct 18, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2013 Rich Fahle rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2016 Matt Rohweder rated it liked it
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
Dec 25, 2012 Holly rated it liked it
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, 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
Dec 27, 2013 Snotchocheez rated it liked it
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
May 04, 2013 Ann rated it it was ok
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
Nov 26, 2012 Jackie rated it really liked it
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
Jul 15, 2012 Candace rated it liked it
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.
Shari Wampler
Dec 02, 2015 Shari Wampler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
331 pages

What’s it about?
Mix rock stars, dancers, money launderers, restauranteurs, pro football, mental illness, and a double murder and you have the subplots of “Life Among Giants”. What a book! Every once in awhile a book sneaks up and surprises you. For me- this was that book for 2015! It was a totally unexpected surprise. Where has Bill Roorbach been?

What did I think?
I loved it! I really enjoyed the writing style in this novel. Mr. R
Jul 06, 2013 Adri rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 18, 2012 Tuck rated it really liked it
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
Oct 20, 2014 Dolly Anderson rated it really liked it
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
May 10, 2014 Holly Brown rated it it was ok
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
Dec 05, 2012 Robert rated it liked it
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
Mar 06, 2013 Louis Mande rated it really liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Heaven Should Fall
  • The Stockholm Octavo
  • In Sunlight and in Shadow
  • The Blue Book
  • Death of the Black-Haired Girl
  • Say Nice Things About Detroit
  • Truth in Advertising
  • Carnival For The Dead (Nic Costa, #10)
  • Ghost Lights: A Novel
  • The Realm of Last Chances
  • Patient One (Dr. David Ballineau and Carolyn Ross #1)
  • Is This Tomorrow
  • The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets
  • The Trust
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
  • In Between Days
  • Kind One
  • The Hot Country (Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller, #1)
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
More about Bill Roorbach...

Share This Book

“The authorities aren't always up to the job.” 2 likes
“It's all written out, you know. Everything is fate. All written out in Heaven, or written out in Hell.” 1 likes
More quotes…