The Cry of the Sloth
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The Cry of the Sloth

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3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  442 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Living on a diet of fried Spam, vodka, sardines, cupcakes, and Southern Comfort, Andrew Whittaker is slowly being sucked into the morass of middle age. A negligent landlord, small-time literary journal editor, and aspiring novelist, he is—quite literally— authoring his own downfall. From his letters, diary entries, and fragments of fiction, to grocery lists and posted sign...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Coffee House Press (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 966)
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MJ Nicholls
A quite outrageously dreadful literary satire, so cringe-inducingly lame one wonders whether the noble Coffee House Press has any credentials at all, outside publishing the mighty Sorrentino. Sam Savage has read and met Sorrentino, which makes this novel doubly painful since what transpires is a sanitised, whimsified Mulligan Stew, centred around small lit-mag publisher Andrew Whittaker whose failing mag Soap, along with other sub-comedic sitcommy disasters, precipitates a book-long nervous brea...more
Ana
i was torn between 3 and 4 stars. in the end it came down to three.. but it's more of a 3.5 ... it's in these times that i wish GR had another? more detailed rating system.

serious review to come.

three days later

while here for writing a review, I'm still unsure about the rating. three or four? 3.5? what should it be? i guess we'll just have to go on without ever knowing this detail, as i'll leave the official rating a 3 stars and let you know that it might be a four. i'm so shady...

written in a...more
Lindsey
There are two types of people who will really enjoy Sam Savage's "Cry of The Sloth". The first - those with literary aspirations struggling to balance 'real life' and writing - is a given, as it mirrors the plight of the novel's hero. The second type is the type that enjoys wanting to laugh and sob helplessly at the same time.

The novel is a "collection" of the "writings" of Andrew Whittaker, a sad, lonely man hung up on events of the past. We observe his one-sided conversations in letters to his...more
Maya Panika
This intriguing novel begins life as a comedy – a laugh-out-loud look at the fast-failing life of wannabe culture czar, Andrew Whittaker who runs ‘Soap’ a literary magazine from his home in a small town that he knows does not appreciate him.

Andrew’s slide into breakdown and madness is mostly told through letters, to a teenage would-be poet, to his disagreeable sister, to his ex-wife, recalcitrant tenants (I do not understand what you intend when you assert if I insist on the back rent you will...more
Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dolors
Four months of letters are more than enough to picture Andrew Whittaker's life in amazingly accurate detail , what it was, what it is and what it'll be when the last letter is sent.
As the editor of a little literary magazine which is about to disappear, he starts writing depressive letters to all his acquaintances and his family but in such a witty way that I found myself smiling in spite of the sad situation. Left by his wife, broken, and with no self esteem left, Andy´s world starts to crumbl...more
Grace
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacobmartin
I finished this last night - and I have to say I liked this for the same reasons I liked Welcome to the NHK by Tatsuhiko Takimoto. And by that I mean anything that says "funny but touching" on the back cover is without fail going to turn out to be a somewhat bleak black comedy like NHK was - no matter how funny the back of the book's blurb says.

So basically what I'm warning you about is not that this book is bad, it's just that the marketing for this character study of a novel is misleading. You...more
Erwin Maack
Querido Rory,
Tremendos poemas. Os seus melhores até agora, especialmente aquele que começa com "Nascer da lua / A claraboia da mente se abre". Você tem períodos em que não consegue sair de casa? Sinto algo desse tipo no poema. Fez vibrar uma corda em mim, já que cada vez mais venho me sentindo assim, querendo ficar em casa, e simplesmente dizendo que se dane esse alvoroço todo, e então agradeço a deus pelas cortinas.
Tudo de bom.
Andy (página 153)

Querida Jolie,
Primeiro eram formigas, e agora são...more
Angela
Nov 17, 2009 Angela rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Angela by: Powell's Indiespensable
Shelves: indiespensable
Andy Whittaker is a character straight out of a Todd Solondz movie, and at the same time the book made me realize why Todd Solondz makes movies instead of epistolary novels. Whittaker is basically failing at life, writing letters attempting to reconnect with his uninterested ex-wife, creepily attempting to hook up with the teenage girl submitting poetry to his literary magazine, composing long dispatches to his bill collectors explaining how much he values their services and wishes he could pay...more
Sam
What a strange little novel. I liked it very much (I think). Andy is so cynical and bitter and self pitying and pathetic. Parts of it are bitterly funny. It isn't the sort of book you read and finish with a good feeling. It is about writing I guess. And a horribly damaged and disappointed persons struggles and loneliness. I'm not sure about the ending though.

I do empathize with Andy as a character in some ways. I feel like we might have been friends if he was a real person. The novel sort of chr...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

They say that in the arts, the projects we're most passionately drawn to are the ones that most accurately reflect our own true inner selves; so I'm not sure what exactly it says that one of my favorite types of novels are what I call "anti-villain" stories, in which our main character starts as a fairly...more
Ula
Written only from the POV of the main character through letters he writes to people, I thought it would be hard to follow but it was a really quick and interesting read. Andy Whittaker is a self-centered, selfish, delusional, sexist, racist and totally unlikeable character yet Sam Savage manages to pull just a few tiny bits of sympathy for him here and there in the letters. Very well written and a good book I got from Powell's Indiespensable subscription. (woo woo go Powell's!)
Emma
This book highlights the trials of life and the temptation to give up and just become, well, like a sloth.

Andrew Whittaker, the main character, continues to trudge along throughout the (often unexpected) hardships of life, although his eccentric personality frequently makes it difficult for him to react expectedly. The book also displays the suffering of others that we often overlook in our everyday lives. I do enjoy journaling and loved the format of how the story was presented (in various lett...more
Sever Gulea
Dincolo de aparenţele respectabile pe care încearcă să le păstreze, Andy duce o existenţă asemănătoare unui leneş (inteles aici ca mamifer): nelipsit de inteligenţă sau de sociabilitate, propria sa natură şi ambiţie scriitoricească îl reţin izolat într-un apartament sărăcăcios, mestecându-şi proiectele şi ratările de care pare să fie dependent într-o serie de scrisori şi însemnări (asta până când inaniţia va deveni o opţiune de luat în considerare). Aceste materiale care alcătuiesc romanul lui S...more
Rob
The central figure of this novel is a familiar one from fiction down the years and Andrew Whittaker's closest cousin has to be Ignatius J. Reilly, the memorable antihero of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces .

But instead of running riot through New Orleans and providing a plethora of comic moments, Whittaker hardly leaves his midwest bolthole - instead penning letter after letter - each more deluded than the last - to literary agents, friends who went on to better things, the tenants...more
bookczuk
Meet Andy Whittaker, a failure. He has basically failed at getting his own writings published, failed as an editor of a small literary magazine, failed as a landlord of some really crappy apartments, failed as a husband, and even failed as a son (there are no family pictures of him from most of his childhood because he was so disappointing.). The story is told from 4 months Andy's writings: frustrated letters to his ex-wife, bitter and cynical notes to his tenants, garbage men, phone company, pl...more
Tiffany Dvorske
This book is about nothing. Really. It's a collection of documents written by the main character (journal entries, letters to friends, letters to tenants, grocery lists, etc.) that is meant to reveal the man's state of mind as he slowly admits that he is a failure professionally and personally.

The book is not "funny" or "touching" or "dark" or "outrageous." It's not "inspirational" or "a tale about rallying in the face of adversity" or "a peek" into anything. It's nothing. It's just a book abou...more
Bastet
Novela fallida del padre de Firmin. Una vez más, la rapiñez de los editores por exprimir al máximo a sus autores "marca" les hace precipitarse. Un narrador que se lanza al oficio con más de setenta años y es capaz de bordar una novela tan lograda como Firmin merece la atención de editores y lectores exigentes, pero eso no puede dar pie a considerar que todos sus manuscritos tienen calidad literaria.
Pero reconozco que tiene cosas salvables. La estructura a base de cartas a conocidos y desconocido...more
Ryan
I tried with this book. I really, really tried. I made it until about halfway before I finally had to give up though. I'd had enough of Andy Whitaker's letters to assorted people where really nothing happens.

You see, that is the whole premise of this book, it is everything that the narrator, Andrew Whitaker writes down. Yes, it is as gimmicky as it sounds, but I thought the idea had potential. Unfortunately Andrew Whitaker is the sad-sack of all sad-sacks. His is a literary failure whose life is...more
Robbins Library
Funny, absurd, clever, and a little sad. Told through Andrew Whittaker's complete writings (including a partial novel, correspondence and signs in his rental property), we see the failed writer/literary magazine editor/landlord completely fall apart. Wonderful fun! Sam Savage is brilliant.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"One thinks, after finishing one interminable sentence, with no verb or subject in the offing, and having finally reached the relative safety of a full stop, that one will just not h...more
Linda
My review is here.

"One thinks, after finishing one interminable sentence, with no verb or subject in the offing, and having finally reached the relative safety of a full stop, that one will just not have enough strength for the next sentence, not enough *willpower* to haul a clogged boot out of the sticky mess and heave it forward into yet more mess, until finally one *really can't* and doesn't, at which point one lets the whole thing slide off one's lap onto the floor." p.29

"I think those peopl...more
Maria
Me parecio aburrido, lo deje a medio leer.
Regresa Sam Savage con una novela marca de la casa. Su estilo personal, su detallismo a la hora de redactar sus obras le han hecho merecedor del título a uno de los mejores autores contemporáneos. Esta obra seguirá conquistando los corazones de los millones de lectores que tiene el autor.
Andrew Whittaker es nuestro protagonista. Tras una racha de mala suerte marcada tanto por el abandono de su mujer como por el estado catastrófico del edificio de su revi...more
Susie
I gave this book a 4.5/5 on InsatiableBooksluts.com. My co-reviewer, Rob, gave the book a 3/5.

We often do discussion-style reviews at our site. Here's an excerpt:

"Susie: well… (grins) I could tell exactly why you didn’t like it, but I thought I’d let you put it in your own words.
Rob: I didn’t marginalia it much. I wonder why? Probably it was just too boring and irritating to bother.
Rob: Oh, I know exactly why I didn’t like it.
Rob: Andrew Whittaker sounds like Holden Caulfield–all grown up, but s...more
Brian
I've been wondering when (or if) the wonderful Indiespensable program at Powell's Books would send out a clunker, a book in which I found nothing worthy. Here it is. I usually need to sit with a book a few days after finishing it to really know what I think of it, but my first impressions are best summarized in the book itself, p. 186:
"And it conveys such an extreme of pathos and grief that the native people will cover their ears and flee rather than listen to it for a second, even if this means
...more
Lori
downloaded audio by Iambik for review


Listened 2/24/12 - 3/5/12
3 Stars - Recommended to readers who prefer books with a protagonist that will make them feel like less of a failure.
Audio Download (approx 6 hrs)
Publisher: Iambik / Coffee House Press
Narrator: Charles Bice

We know it's hard to be honest with yourself. Especially when you're a middle aged man desperately trying to keep your small literary magazine afloat while adamantly ignoring the fact that you are flat ass broke.

And we know how diff...more
Хасан Жамус
Strange book!. It was very interesting to get into Andy's head. His character is very crazy and totally bizarre!. Obviously he is going through a mid life crisis what with his wife leaving him and his magazine failing and his tenants not paying their rent. Oh the part that I could not get is how could a land lord who owns, from what i perceived in the book, at least 3 properties could be that broke!. I didn't get it. But in general the book was surprisingly engaging and definitely not boring.
Eustachio
C'è chi dice che è un esperimento interessante, chi che è noioso e basta. Direi entrambi.

Interessante perché la storia è raccontata attraverso gli scritti del protagonista, che siano lettere, annunci, liste della spesa o parti di romanzo. Sono esilaranti, divertenti, teneri, tristi, miseri e chi più ne ha più ne metta.
Sembra che non venga detto niente di che per tutto il libro, ma non è così. Ogni pagina ha un pezzo della personalità, del passato, delle vicende di Andrew Whittaker, e una lettura...more
Kate
Apr 17, 2010 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the dour
Recommended to Kate by: Unshelved
"What happens to us either happens to everyone or only to us: in the first instance it's banal; in the second it's incomprehensible."

"The bees have a lot of personality, but there are too many of them and their names are confusing. The murder, while gruesome, is not plausible, since how could the bees know which brother had taken their shirt?"

"Maybe Baudelaire was right, and the spleen really is the creative organ."

"Through the desert of tedium flows a river of dread."

"You say nothing about the...more
Alinola
Ho letto la prima metà del libro quasi con gusto. La parte successiva non riusciva a farsi leggere, si era messa contro di me. Perchè il personaggio non è male e per un po' ti viene la voglia di seguire la sua corrispondenza ma poi dopo davvero ti annoia. Ti annoia il fatto che il libro sia fatto di lettere detestabili di una persona fastidiosa, che siano solo lettere tranne le parti in cui il protagonista scrive il suo romanzo. Che poi queste parti di romanzo sono così brutte che non riesci nea...more
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Sam Savage is a native of South Carolina now living in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor and doctoral degree from Yale University where he taught briefly, and has also worked as a bicycle mechanic, carpenter, commercial fisherman, and letterpress printer.
More about Sam Savage...
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife The Way of the Dog Glass The Criminal Life of Effie O It Will End with Us

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