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The Punch

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,052 ratings  ·  128 reviews
"No reader should pass this by." -- Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

Joe Henry was the glue that held his family together. Now he is dead, and his wife and sons are coming together for one final journey to scatter his ashes. First, however, his loved ones have some things to work out.
David, the older son, believes that any minute his life is goin
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 21st 2008)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,052 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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Texx Norman
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my third Noah Hawley book to read. I discovered Mr. Hawley from his TV show Fargo, and I wondered if he'd written books. I found him to be a serious and gifted writer but of those three books I loved this one the most. There at least 3 dozen lines worthy of being in my quotation book. The characters are sadly funny, and the plot is as perfectly woven together as my mother's crocheting. It is a family slice of life story, but it is superior to most similar works. The similarities between ...more
May 29, 2019 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Sadly life is too short for this one. Great idea, good characters but very drawn out and introspective to far too high a degree for me.
Richard Block
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Noah Hawley - he of Fargo TV fame - hits the bullseye with this comedy/tragedy of brotherly love. Unlike the Good Father, a well constructed but plainly written thriller, the prose sparkles and moves the story up a notch to a more philosophical level.

The story is about the squabbling Henry family, especially David and Scott and their fraught relationship with the mother. Joe, the patriarch has died and the brothers and mother are going to make a trip to NY to hold a memorial service. The
Susan's Reviews
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book were laugh out loud funny. (But I have a quirky sense of humour!)
The rest is really about relationships: with family, with lovers, with friends.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third novel by Noah Hawley that I've read, and they are all quite different and I found each of them tricky to rate and review. At first I thought this book was so-so and would've given just a 2-star rating, but I appreciated its nuances more as I continued to read.
It's a quiet book that packs a punch (no pun intended!), with wit and wisdom hidden in the pages. But it's subtle. It has plenty of plot and both 'larger than life' and quirky characters, but the drama is muted and it doe
Kate Cornfoot
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Noah Hawley, I'm giving up on you.
I really loved Before the Fall. It was clever, very moving, and the main characters were well-rendered.
But this. Uh.
What should be a moving story of brotherhood and redemption, reads like a bad screenplay with two unlikeable men who do everything possible to mess up their own (and others' lives). Very little time is devoted to their relationship, so that when they 'make up' at the end, you can't possibly care that they will now be closer.
In this universe, wo
Blayne Smith
Nov 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book started well and had lots of promise. Frankly the character development was awful, and by the end of the book I disliked ever character for their selfishness and their actions. Nothing was wrapped up and there were aspects of physics and religion that were thrown in that didn’t seem to fit well with the story.

Do not waste your time.

.5 stars at best.
This is a really tough one to review. 3.5 stars. I was interested at the very beginning and then I lost interest. I kept with it though and then it got interesting again at the very end. At the point where I got bored I found myself asking “what is this book even about?” Part of what kept me reading was that there were quite a few times I actually laughed out loud-definitely some funny moments and waiting for mom’s scenes almost makes it worth getting past the boring ones.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny premise. Good book.
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book after I read a wonderful review of the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, in the NYT, and I had read another by this author that I liked. The narrator is indeed excellent, the book was only okay.

It seems I’ve only read books about dysfunctional families lately, but I’m in the midst of re-reading Pat Conroy’s books and this author suffered by comparison, I think. Too often, I found myself thinking, “Oh for Pete’s sake, just get on with it.” Lots of introspection, not much productive
Jason Phillips
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This audiobook is a really good one. Noah Hawley’s The Punch reminds me of this year’s Pulitzer winner, Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The writing is crisp and clever. The narrator is key here and helps this above average story reach its full potential in audio format. He was phenomenal. Overall rating: 4.38 stars
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noah Hawley is so good at developing characters, and that is what I liked most about this book. It wasn't as good as Before the Fall, but it was still a good story, with very interesting characters, and some life lessons. ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Schlocky, set-piecey, Hallmark-for-boring-men.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Noah Hawley's work. ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I don't usually read books about dysfunctional, broken families sprinkled with random theory about life, the universe and everything. ...more
محمد جمال
It's good to find a great screen-writer and quite good novelist at the same time, thought it was a myth. ...more
I read Noah Hawley's most recent book Before the Fall last year and it absolutely floored me: accomplished writing, compelling characters, and a satisfying story. This earlier work from Hawley shares some traits with Fall -- disparate characters thrown together; a sense that you might find the answers to big questions in small stories -- but, oof, it has many, many more storytelling flaws.

One of the reasons I found Fall so impressive is that it uses omniscient narration with aplomb. I haaaaate o
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hawley is fascinated with the concept of time in The Punch. The passing of time, the freezing of time, the circle of time. This is ultimately a story of family and its dynamics in all its glory and ugliness. At times, Hawley's thought-provoking prose make my head spin from thinking but in a great way. He proves he can write in many different styles and genres. ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars.

A funny thing happened to me as I was about halfway through Noah Hawley’s The Punch. Not “funny ha ha” per se, but coincidentally funny given the novel’s dominant themes of loss and grief: my grandmother passed away. Suffice to say my relationship with my father’s mother grew complicated towards the end; but hey that’s kinda how most families work, right? It’s not always Camelot.

It’s certainly not Camelot for the Henry’s, the family that centers Hawley’s third book. Like my father’s
Feb 24, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

There’s a kind of magic involved in taking a commonplace, seemingly unremarkable event and spinning it into an involving narrative. Our best authors do that, and based on the events of The Punch, we can add Noah Hawley to that list.

The title gives us the seemingly unremarkable event in question. When the book opens, two brothers – Scott and David Henry – are in the emergency room. One has a broken nose; the other has a broken hand. You make the connection. The book then backs us up sev
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Existential thinking and plot make for an interesting look at a mother and her two sons whose dynamics are headed toward an all-out confrontation at their father's memorial.

In "The Punch" it feels at times like Hawley is talking to you because this story isn't told in its own velocity, its narrator purposely stops and talks to you directly about the cosmos, space and time, and cosmic theory that lead to moments of reckoning.

As a family gathers for a memorial service for their late patriarch, the
Carrie Echols
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madeline (The Bookish Mutant)
TW/CW: loss of loved ones, description of illness, substance abuse (mainly smoking), mild physical violence (hence the title), cheating

As I mentioned earlier, this is only my second Noah Hawley novel, but judging from this one and Before the Fall, he’s easily earned a spot as one of my favorite authors. The Punch had a very different feel to it than the latter, though; all at once tragic and laugh-out-loud funny, a superbly written story of the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional family.

Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
The family dysfunction runs deep!

Joe Henry the family patriarch and the "glue that held them all together" was physically abused as a child. IMO that experience contributed to his life long vices of smoking and boozing that ultimately led to his multiple organ failure. I believe, it also led to him being attracted to Doris who had her own baggage of having been abandoned by her mother. This caused Doris to be extremely dependent on Joe and since nobody came to save Joe as a child he became a sav
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars The Punch is a book I define as a "ride". It's the kind of book that you don't stop and reread paragraphs to savor language. (For me that's Chabon). You read it for fun and for the thrill. You throw your hands up in the air and just go with it, sometimes suspending belief at some of the preposterous scenes, i.e., the collision course climaxing the end of the novel. And yet, the ride is often interrupted by thought provoking, introspective philosophy. There's reference to George Be ...more
Kenneth Underhill
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With every book by Hawley I read, I am more impressed with his literary craft. The Punch, for me raised the bar nearly to the highest echelon of modern fiction authors in my regard. Starting with a deeply dysfunctional family forced into unwanted proximity following the patriarch's death, Hawley unspools the failings, idiosyncrasies and emotional baggage of the family unit with incredible realism and acerbic wit. Everything is complicated by a history of warped impressions of each other and of t ...more
Dec 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Before this I really liked Noah Hawley, Legion was superb, the first two seasons of Fargo were excellent, and I enjoyed his novels Before The Fall and A Good Father. But after this I'm not so sure if I'll ever read anything by him again as I really struggled with it, and found large parts incredibly irritating. The omniscient narrator is a smug, condescending, patronising idiot who makes statements that are supposed to amaze but would seem obvious to a ten year old, and there’s not a single bit ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was apprehensive about listening to the audiobook, having been disappointed before by screenwriters (Hawley writes the TV series Fargo) who attempt to make the leap to writing novels.

I needn’t have worried. The Punch is beautifully written, populated by fully realized characters and plot lines both darkly humorous and poignant. This is a portrait of a dysfunctional family, wrestling with death, obligation, narcissism, secrets, guilt, shame, regret, sadness, anger, denial—and each other. And th
Susan Cippele
I really didn't like this one. I had read Before the Fall and loved it, so was excited to see what I thought was a new book by Noah Hawley. Turns out this is a re-release of a book from 2008. He's obviously improved a lot since then. This book just was SO wordy, contemplative, going nowhere. By about halfway through I was tempted to stop but instead just did a skim read of the rest. And it was fine because I could skim through whole pages without missing a thing. It's just a lot of ruminations o ...more
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Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics' Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC's My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive produc ...more

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