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Death Of An Ordinary Man
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Death Of An Ordinary Man

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  791 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Nathan's gravestone offers a short and hopeful summary: At rest. But Nathan is not at rest, and knows he won't be until he can find out how and why he died. son, daughter, father and best friend, getting to know them like he has never known them before. But there are two things he can't understand: a strange young couple on the fringes of the wake, whose presence fills him ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,753)
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Lori
Oct 05, 2007 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone whose interested in what could happen in the afterlife...
I had finished I, Lucifer by this author prior to reading this novel, and I was facinated by his take on heaven, hell, the devil, and god.

Here, also, is an interesting take on what happens to a person after they die. The main character awoke to whiteness, nothingness, then suddenly found himself at his funeral, with no recollection of how or why he got there.

He spends the day around his family, being drawn into them like a moth to a light. He can see and hear thier thoughts, he is also drawn i
...more
Kiri
Dec 01, 2011 Kiri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite brilliant. Before Death of an Ordinary Man I’d read only one other book by Duncan, I, Lucifer, which I suppose was similar in its style and themes and so on. He has this amazing talent for describing an existence outside of the human experience. His imagery transcends the senses, and is something I think everyone needs to experience at least once.
But I think what struck me the most in this story was the characters and the depth to which we got to know them. The omniscient perspective of re
...more
Marvin
Aug 05, 2009 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story follows a dead man as he hovers over his family & closest friend the day of his funeral & wake. The plot, such as it is, follows him as he tries to discover why he died. But it also follows him through time as this thoroughly devoted family man who dearly loves his wife & 3 kids reexperiences key moments in his life. The book has passages of amazing insight about family relationships. There's a brilliant chapter on his daughter's first sexual experience (it's not particular ...more
Ali6
Dec 04, 2012 Ali6 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I thought this book sucked. 50 pages into it, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd bother finishing it. For some reason I kept reading, figuring it would get better. By a certain point, I still didn't care much for the story and disliked most all of the characters, yet I was far enough along in the book I thought "I might as well finish it now." I really didn't identify with any of the characters. I thought the whole stream-of-consciousness writing style very annoying -- especially conside ...more
Robert
Mar 31, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glen Duncan is the master of writing the nitty gritty of those thoughts which most of us are embarrassed to think, or even verbalise. This book puts us directly into the heads of every one of its characters (bar one, whom we never actually meet, but who casts a shadow into the story). It tells the story of Nathan, who is a ghost at his own funeral, dipping into and out of the minds of the attendees, his family, and into and out of their memories. There is a door with a scary attraction, and two ...more
Joe
The supernatural parts aren't really supernatural enough, and the family drama parts are too overwrought. It bothers me when you can't tell whether the author or the narrator has a warped view of the world; it's like seeing "Inglorious Basterds" without knowing how WWII actually ended. The women in this novel are presented as mystic goddesses, all vastly superior to men but without man's humanity. It's a common problem with male authors, and it bothers me.

The criminal center of the novel is a h
...more
Nick Brett
Tough one to review this, a book that makes you think, does very much cover the human condition and one that you gradually peel apart to understand the circumstances behind the story.

Trying hard not to give anything away, we start with a man floating above his own funeral and trying to remember what happened, He follows through to the wake and we see (through his eyes) how his family are coping and he/we can also sense what they are thinking.

He is trying to remember and we as readers are trying
...more
Karen
Feb 21, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I've read since college. The story is heartbreaking, but I couldn't tear myself away. It took a little while to really get into the author's voice, as the main character is just as clueless as the reader as to what's going on in the beginning. It's worth sticking it out and getting into.

Ayelet Waldman
I read this book because I was contemplating a dead narrator in my new novel. I've changed my mind, but I'm glad I had a chance to read this.
Martin
Apr 03, 2013 Martin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Comparisons with Alice Sebold's better-known play on the same theme are unavoidable (so I won't avoid them), but Duncan's Death of an Ordinary Man is not afraid to go to places, dark places, that The Lovely Bones tends to (delicately, beautifully) swerve around. For that alone I prefer Duncan's effort.

Death of an Ordinary Man takes some getting used to (especially if you jump into it after having just read a James Frey novel); Duncan's style in this novel is ethereal, wispy, intangible and scatt
...more
Angie Lisle
Apr 11, 2012 Angie Lisle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that clearly doesn't play by the "rules" promoted by most writing self-help books - which may explain why I enjoyed it so much.

The story unfolds very slowly. It's a bit like the movie Pulp Fiction in that it's not put together in the traditional beginning-middle-end structure that we all know so well. Even the prose, which reflects the garbled minds/emotions of the characters, follows the pattern set forth by the story structure. The entire book is designed to do one
...more
Jamie Campbell
Sep 12, 2007 Jamie Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
A perplexing take on the experience of a soul coming to peace with their own death . . . and sharing, with the reader, a profound naivete about "what happens when we die" along with a puzzling naivete about the circumstances of their own death. The reader follows the narrator on a metaphysical tour of their funeral, complete with forays into the thoughts and emotions of their family and friends. You learn about the narrator's life through his family's thought and memories and his own interpretat ...more
Melissa
The challenge of the writing style aside, it took me a long time to get into these characters, to really understand what was going on. The deep understanding of a familiy's makeup is fascinating and what finally saves the story. The sadness is overwhelming, the failings complete. Still, it has some redeeming qualities. Cheryl and Nathan. A mirror.
Djrmel
A dead man observes his family at his own funeral and wake, looking for clues as to why he died. His recently departed stature gives him the ability to see but not be seen, as well as to hear some of the thoughts of his family. Their grief triggers memories of another death in the family, one that no one dealt with nearly as well they seem to be handling his passing. The presence of two people he doesn't recognize is what troubles him most, and until he finds the connection, he can't let himself ...more
Stephanie Goforth
I found a copy of Duncan's "Hope" in a box of junk my brother had stashed in an old car. I became an immediate fan and began avidly trying to collect all his novels. Death of an ordinary man is as top notch as the others. I haven't read a more honest writer in years and wish he had more for me to collect.
Miguel
Jun 07, 2015 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Duncan novel. It's extremely personal, extremely dark in the sense of suicide, adultery, etc. but it does not feel like some trashy made-for-TV story. If you enjoy HBO's "Six Feet Under," you'd probably like this. Beware that it is extremely graphic and depressing.
Traci
It had amazed her, his face utterly not him anymore because of the life gone out. She'd thought of the euphemism: asleep; at rest; at peace. Ludicrous, with his head and body and limbs and closed eyes bearing absolutely no resemblance to him asleep, or at rest, or at peace...

Andrew Dawson Bell
I honestly thought this would turn out to be more than it was. I had a hard time finding any relation to the main character, along with it being extremely slow. the idea is cool I guess. I just thought it would be another spectacular pieces judging from I, Lucifer.
Jordan
Feb 07, 2013 Jordan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to get sucked into this book... So long, in fact, that I nearly quit reading it. (sidebar: I am getting a lot better at quitting books that suck, rather than forcing myself to finish them. Well, maybe not getting better, but I am thinking about it. Strongly) I am glad that I did not quit, because it got a lot better. It is a pretty depressing book, with extremely dark subject matter. If you are a sensitive Sally, this is not the book for you. However, if you are not, you may re ...more
Eve Kay
Jun 23, 2015 Eve Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite unique in its narration: A deadman's perspective.
I enjoyed this immensely - being told about the living from beyond the grave.
There is a light in this story that shines from afar and it draws the reader nearer.
There is a certain kind of depth to it all when it's not your average storytelling.
The things we are told and the things we learn about the characters are fascinating.
I think this was quite genius in its own way.
Chad J
May 18, 2015 Chad J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: duncan-glen
I tried and tried to stay interested in this book, a good friend of mine had nothing but great things to say about it. Sorry buddy, have to disagree.
Bettiann
Apr 28, 2015 Bettiann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I tried to read this book but had to stop. The way it's written is very hard to read and confusing. Did not like!
cold green tea
Dec 28, 2014 cold green tea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel might have been good were it not for self-indulgent prose, the author’s exaggerated sense of his own daring, and tepidly realized characters. The premise (a ghost at his own funeral, knowing the thoughts of his family and rediscovering them as strangers) is not new, but Duncan at first seemed to take it to a very interesting place. The narrator explores his families memories with fear and curiosity. There is a real sense of approaching mystery, bewilderment, and dread that fades very ...more
Killaguapo
Nov 17, 2014 Killaguapo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't pick up a book in 12 years and im 22 this book was amazing, every thing about it was great. I can't wait to read I, Lucifur
Amanda
Aug 20, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I still don't know if I completely liked it. At times Duncan's writing really moved me, he is articulate, accurate and describes human interaction in a wonderful way. However at the same time, I had trouble connecting some of the characters which made it difficult to read at times.

As mentioned by some of the other reviewers, this book isn't for everyone and it does take some time to get used to Duncan's writing style.

Overall though, the good bits, outweighed the bad, and
...more
Lindsay
Jul 27, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the saddest books I've read in recent years. Nathan's story is absolutely heartbreaking, as is that of his family, whose thoughts and feelings following Nathan's death make up most of the content.
I wouldn't count Death of an Ordinary Man among Duncan's best, simply because it doesn't have the almost conversational flow that make his other novels so easy to get caught up in, but it is brilliant nonetheless for its portrayal of a family with a tragic story, and their battle coping with the
...more
Nathan
Apr 02, 2015 Nathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Glen Duncan's understanding of the human condition and its many contradictions is faultless. His writing always amazes me.
Teresa
Mar 01, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
Not a happy book but worth the read
Blair
Jun 29, 2010 Blair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not as good as his previous work "I, Lucifer". It would be extremely difficult to topple or even equal that fantastic work. While not as strong this book has it's own strengths. The story is a tragic one. The reader is taken through a journey of the life of an ordinary man coping with the fact that he is dead. He is forced to observe his own funeral and the state his death leaves his family in. The premise is not totally new territory from a narrative stand-point but Duncan does use it ...more
J.R. Ortega
This is my second Glen Duncan novel. My first was "Last Werewolf," which I enjoyed. As for "Death of an Ordinary Man," I really can't say I liked the story as much as I thought I would.

I give the book three stars because I really do enjoy Duncan's craftsmanship with the written word. He's a powerful writer, and that's evident in both books I've read. I didn't care for any of the characters.
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37613
Aka Saul Black.

Glen Duncan is a British author born in 1965 in Bolton, Lancashire, England to an Anglo-Indian family. He studied philosophy and literature at the universities of Lancaster and Exeter. In 1990 Duncan moved to London, where he worked as a bookseller for four years, writing in his spare time. In 1994 he visited India with his father (part roots odyssey, part research for a later work,
...more
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