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Neighbors: A Novel
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Neighbors: A Novel

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  347 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Suburban regular guy Earl Keese confronts the yawning pit of chaos in the persons of Harry and Ramona, a younger couple who have just moved into the only other house on their dead-end street. Literally overnight, Earl's painstakingly controlled world is turned upside down. Soon he is engaged in guerilla warfare with his new neighbors, who seem to threaten the very fabric o ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published July 15th 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1980)
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Dennis
A feud between two neighbors over a 24-hour period. Momentum shifts throughout. For me, this book represents a new discovery of a writer who also wrote Little Big Man, which was made into a well-regarded film starring Dustin Hoffman. Neighbors was also made into a film -- a bad one starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Funny, I can't see them in this role. I picture Jason Alexander for Keese and Dennis Quaid for Harry.

This is a black comedy so you have to prepare yourself properly. I didn't. Th
...more
Mike McPadden
NEIGHBORS made me hyperventilate. No other book conjures such a "trapped in the funhouse" feeling, wherein every page makes you feel like you just turned and slammed your face into yet another glass wall or distorted mirror.


The book, in and of itself, is NOT unfilmable, but the botched Belushi-Aykroyd attempt pretty well iced any chance of a proper version ever existing.

Berger is one of my favorite authors, and I'd recommend NEIGHBORS to anyone—but THE FEUD, I'd say, is really the best place t
...more
Mark Desrosiers
The key to this relentless nightmare is right there on page one: "Were Keese to accept the literal witness of his eyes, his life would have been of quite another character, perhaps catastrophic, for outlandish illusions were, if not habitual with him, then at least none too rare for that sort of thing." And so as we read on, always from Keese's point of view, you're led to doubt whether depictions of his neighbors Harry and Ramona are accurate -- that they may be the ramping up of his own peculi ...more
Cecily
This is like no other book I have read. Twenty four hours in nearly 300 pages reads almost like real-time, which works well in this story of strange neighbours. Each individual incident is plausible, but in combination, it creates an acutely observed surreal nightmare of escalating paranoia.

Earl and Enid are are in their late 40s (but seem older) and long time residents of a quiet road. Their predicable life is overturned by the arrival of new neighbours. Harry and Ramona's unabashed presumptiou
...more
Ted Sweeney
Saw the film years ago. It was difficult not too see the actors as I read but still I found a lot to like about it. Riding through the story, now directly inside the mind of Earl Keese was enlightening. The feeling of contrast was practically tangible between my memories as a boy watching a film which was funny but entirely unrelatable to a reading a novel that felt very familiar and personal as a man who now has a home and family and NEIGHBORS!
Paul G
This is a story about 24 hours of psychological warfare between trite, staid middle class suburbanites, and the free-wheeling grifters who move into the house next door.
Quirky and uncomfortable, but also very well-written, funny, and never boring. It's a very quick read, too.
abby
Unlike any book I've ever read, in a way that is hard to explain. Banal yet surreal, with really interesting stylistic choices. Quick and engaging read, more of a long short story than a novel.
ginny
Weird and funny and disorienting. As someone who is frequently the new family on the street, it was an engaging read. The plot centers around a middle aged man (and his wife) who leads a pretty banal existence in a quiet neighborhood with only one other house on his street. Crazy new neighbors move in, zaniness ensues and the pratfalls/pranks get progressively more aggressive and weird. I kept waiting for the punchline but the ending, while good, left me still asking so many questions.
Jim
The reviews for this book are all over the place, and I can see why. It is a darkly humorous book, extremely well written, but one whose twists and turns are designed to make the reader uncomfortable. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns, as characters repeatedly responded unexpectedly to new situations. The characters are all well-developed by the end of the book. Just say Ramona...
Dennis
Most people know this story more through the film with Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi than through the book. to be honest, the book read more like an overlong Playboy short story than a novel and didn't really take me anywhere except to take the theme of neighbor-from-hell to another level, without leaving you liking anybody in the end (or in the middle or from the start...) Fortunately, it was short.
Seán
This is the fourth book I've read by Berger, and it's probably my least favorite. I have a sneaking suspicion that makes me an idiot.

The blurb said it best: it's as if Henry James was writing "Waiting for Godot." Clearly brilliant and deploying a sharp eye on convention and real life, but a bit too out there for little old me.
Christopher Sutch
This novel starts out with very entertaining explorations of social conventions, in particular how the protagonist Earl Keese responds to the various social transgressions inflicted upon him by his new neighbors Harry and Ramona. However, this theme is rather a thin frame upon which to hang an entire novel. In fact, Berger's plot drags for nearly 100 pages in the last half of the novel, as if the author himself is searching for a way to bring the novel's plot to the end. He eventually succeeds, ...more
Ron
A masterpiece of suburban angst that comes across like a manic, comic version of 'Who's Afraid of VIrginia Woolf?' The film version is one of the most vastly under-rated films of all time, brilliantly casting Ackroyd and Belushi in the roles opposite of what one would have presumed.
Sarah
Very black - like a bad dream that keeps getting worse.
It reminds me of A Confederacy of Dunces because the characters are so irritating.
Phil Williams
I had read this book when I was in high school all those many, many, many (well, not that many) years ago but decided to read it a second time. Neighbors is still just as weird as I remembered it, not in a bad way, however. The dialog is pretty flamboyant, not the way people really speak, but I love how peculiar the new neighbors are and how Keese, the main character, reacts to them and how he comes to love them even though they have accused him of attempted rape, damaged his vehicle and even at ...more
Doug
I picked this up out of curiosity because I have fond memories of a Ackroyd / Belushi movie called neighbors. It was marketed as a comedy, and it was, but it was a dark comedy, like one of the funnier episodes of the twilight zone. The actors were cast against type - Ackroyd was in a Belushi-type role, and vice versa.

So anyway, the book. It was often jarring. I read theories on the internet after were people sought to explain why this was the case.

Guy has a wife and daughter, and obnoxious neig
...more
Surya
This is one of the strangest, weirdest books I have ever read in my entire life. And I am not kidding about it. By saying this I am probably going against a majority, who seem to love this book. When I purchased this book I purely went by reader reviews and said to myself, man I have to read this book.

The book starts off really well by introducing us to Keese the protoganist if I may say so. Keese is seemingly a laid back guy, happy with his house and life on a dead end street with the only dau
...more
Mark R.
Thomas Berger's strange bit of absurd comedy is about a man at war with his neighbors (and his wife and his daughter, and his other neighbors, and most definitely himself...). Gerald Keese invites in his neighbors Harry and Ramona, and over the course of the next twenty-four hours, he alternately fends them off, fights with Harry, spurns Ramona's sexual advances, is accused of harassment, invites them back in, tries to hurt them, tries to help them, etc.

At some points the reader wonders whether
...more
Clarinda Dodson
This review was originally written on my blog back in 2006

If you can avoid this book, I definitely would not read it again! Maybe the cover should've been a clue to me. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking that the ending would redeem it for me...make it worth my time.

Unfortunately, this was not the case.

The story is about a family who lives on a dead end street. New neighbors move into the only other house on the street, and all sorts of trouble ensues. The husband and wife
...more
Trevor Zaple
At first it made me deeply uncomfortable. I would crawl through a couple of pages and have to stop, distraught at the completely uncouth behaviour of these new neighbours of Earl Keese. Then I hit a place where continuing to read became a compulsion, and finally a joy . There's a freedom that these grifters bring to Earl's life in the very short time that he knows them, and a revelation that they bring for him about himself and his family that he might not otherwise have seen. Darkly hilarious a ...more
Tom Baker
Funny, outrageous, but in the end, a bit tedious. Makes one think though, of some of those aggressive so-called friends we all have that make themselves at home: become pests. And most importantly, our reactions and ineffectualness.
Vanessa Holloway
I really tried. After 23 pages, I couldn't handle it anymore.
Ryan
perfect, uneasy, dark hilarity.
Kalisa
Neighbors by Thomas Berger is a satire about living in the suburbs. It's supposedly hilarious but I guess I don't really get satire, because I just thought it was weird. Every time I found it to be completely ridiculous and totally unbelievable, I just reminded myself that it was a satire but that still didn't make it funny to me. I found out after I'd read it that it was the basis for the movie by the same name starring John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, so maybe if you've seen that you get an unders ...more
Lisa
Found this book to be tedious. I know it is supposed to be satire about life in suburbia, but really it was just boring. None of the annoying characters really gripped me and nothing they said or did was earth-shattering. Kept reading just to see if it would get more interesting. Everytime it seemed like it would, the tension simmered down. Geez, if only Keese would have killed Harry or Ramona or Enid or Elaine. Now that would have made it interesting.
Marc
Liked it, but didn't really get the point. Berger's a great writer. Little Big Man is one of my all-time favorite novels. But this was a strange one. The characters are fully sketched, the plot whizzes along, the dialogue rings true for the most part. But what the hell is going on? What on earth are these sociopathic neighbors up to? I couldn't figure it out, so I just went along for the (wild) ride.
Todd
I saw the movie a long time ago and even though it wasn't great, I liked it. When I found out it was a book, I gobbled it up. Big mistake. I couldn't stand it. I also found out that Mr. Berger also wrote Little Big Man which is one of my all time favorite movies. I don't think I'm going to read the book and be disappointed like I was with Neighbors.
Glenn
I'd rate this 3.5 stars if I could. Beware of the new people next door! They might be like those pesky relatives or guests coming for a visit that overextend their stay. In this case, it only takes about 10 minutes for that to happen. I like some of Berger's phrasing and enjoyed his writing style.
Jason
Another reviewer described it as a kind of farcical, suburban version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and I think that's fairly accurate.

Berger is pithy as all hell, and while the suburban hell of "Neighbors" is a bit dated, it's still a rollicking tale of alienation and . . . redemption?
Joe  Noir
Earl Keese cannot escape from the nightmare his new neighbors have brought to his life. I liked this book, even though it made me feel uncomfortable. It's supposed to. A very dark comedy which I feel has a noir sensibility. A sympathetic character with his life spiraling out of control.
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Thomas Louis Berger is an American novelist. Probably best known for his picaresque novel Little Big Man and the subsequent film by Arthur Penn, Berger has explored and manipulated many genres of fiction throughout his career, including the crime novel, the hard-boiled detective story, science fiction, the utopian novel, plus re-workings of classical mythology, Arthurian legend, and the survival a ...more
More about Thomas Berger...
Little Big Man Arthur Rex The Return of Little Big Man Sneaky People The Feud

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