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A Philosophy of Ruin

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  74 reviews
A young philosophy professor finds himself in the middle of a drug-running operation after his personal life derails in this taut, white-knuckle debut for fans of Breaking Bad

Oscar Boatwright, a disenchanted philosophy professor, receives terrible news. His mother, on her way home from Hawaii with Oscar’s father, has died midflight, her body cooling for hours until t
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Hanover Square Press
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  278 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Oscar Boatwright's life is crashing in slow motion.

He's received news his mother died on a flight home from Hawaii.  His father arrives at his home, stunned and still numb.

To make matters worse, Oscar learns his mother's depression had overwhelmed her and led his parents to spend tens of thousands of dollars on seminars with self help guru Paul St. Germaine.

Now Oscar's dad has not only lost his life savings but the wife he longed to save from deep depression .
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-netgalley
***3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars ***
Publication: June 18th, 2019

Oscar Boatwright is a philosophy professor at a university finds out that his mother passes away during a flight to Hawaii, a flight he didn't even know she was taking. Turns out his family was in significant debt and as Oscar is mourning he mistakenly sleeps with one of his students from a bar, Dawn. Dawn blackmails Oscar and wants his help smuggling drugs for her and a drug lord in exchange for her silence. This book
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Meh. I respect some of the author’s ideas but the ending was a miss for me.
Kathryn in FL
I was impressed with some of the reviews I saw for this book. Unfortunately, it did not meet my expectations. If you read the publisher's blurb, you know the gist of the story. Advertised as a journey into nihilism, it does just that. However, the road is paved with predictable characters and a very Hollywood action thriller style ride.

If you like action this book is for you. It has a few dashes of thriller (small dashes) in the mix, cuz when you do bad things, you are bound to mix w
I saw a review of this book and was intrigued by the summary of its plot of having a philosophy professor plucked from his safe if boring life and pushed into the world of drug-runners. It seemed to have possibilities. Moreover, it was another debut novel and my recent experience with first novels has been very good so I was ready to give another one a chance.

Oscar Boatwright is the professor - actually assistant professor making barely $20,000 a year - of philosophy in question. His
Aimee Dars
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
Oscar Boatwright is shocked when he receives a call that his mother died on a flight from Hawaii to California. His parents live in Indiana, and he had no idea that they were coming to visit him, much less that they’d been in Hawaii. Soon, he learns the purpose behind their trip. His mother, Delia, suffering lifelong depression, had fallen under the spell of self-help guru Paul St. Germaine. Starting slow, she watched all of his video seminars, then started attending seminars in Hawaii, and fina ...more
Debi Hawkes
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
"Oscar Boatwright’s mother had died in her seat during a f light from Hawaii to California, and his father had been made to sit for three hours in the same aircraft as her cooling body."

Great 1st sentence! I always adore when a book gets off to a start like this. Good job author Nicholas Mancusi.

I find the rest of this review difficult to write. There were parts I enjoyed very much, the "thriller" aspects if you will. Also, the primary characters were nicely developed, if
Lisa Schneider
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
From the first line of this book, I was intrigued. This debut novel, was great- with a combination of action, emotion, and philosophical examination. It checked boxes, I didn't even know I wanted checked in a novel.

I felt that some parts were a bit too wordy and could have been cut down.

Overall, great read!

**I received a copy of this book from Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins, in exchange for an honest review**
Neelam Babul
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A fascinating debut novel about a life wrecked by depression and grief.

Oscar Boatwright, a philosophy professor at a university finds out that his mother passed away during a flight to Hawaii, a flight he didn't even know she was taking. In addition to that comes a shocking revelation that his parents were in significant debt owed to a self-help guru.

As Oscar is mourning he in a drunken daze sleeps with Dawn, who turns out to be his student. Dawn blackmails Oscar into smu
Shira Selkovits
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely thrilling debut that had me hooked from the first page.
David Gerrard
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thrilling debut novel about how little examining a life has to do with living it
Christopher Berry
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Rounding up to 3.5 on this one. It started out very well, and it kept me very interested in the story, however, in the last quarter of it, I felt like it lost it meaning, and became this cheap thriller that a mystery writer who had had his/her prime years ago was just tired and wanted to rush their story and just end it. In the beginning and for a great portion of the book, I felt for the characters, and I bought in to the narrative. In the end, it became weird and I stopped caring.
Cathy Brown
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn Talbert
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great premise, well executed.
This book was incredible. For a debut novel it was short and to the point but not overly simplified as some new novelists seem to do. Although I think that Mancusi is still developing his voice, I think there is the possibility for longevity there.

The novel was dated 2009 but there wasn’t any present day action so it didn’t make sense for it to be dated. There were other ways it could’ve been done, mainly by pop culture references. The fact that Oscar‘s mom died so early on in the book, basical
Holly Barnett
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A Philosophy of Ruin had a great beginning, an okay middle, and a less than impressive ending. I actually reread the end of the book, hoping that I missed something; The something that gave the book meaning but I didn't ...
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A solid debut novel about a life derailed by depression and grief.
Full review at:
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This is somewhere between a 3 and a 4. Fast read, strong enough pacing and writing. But then it ended, and in the ten minutes that followed I wondered if the plot was a little unnecessarily jumpy and distracted, characters not fully flushed out, etc. But still a one-day book, and while reading it I was excited to see where it would go next.
Brian Miller
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book by an author I had not previously read. It starts with death of the mother of the main character, Oscar and the book takes off from there. He finds his father is involved with a spiritual guru who they have given all their money to over the past few years trying to comfort the mother. He is desperate for money and gets involved in drug running. It seems that as a teacher of philosophy, he would not be involved in anything illegal but money does things to people. Oscar fin ...more
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Strange book with good plot that went nowhere. Did not understand the point.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I could see Tarantino making a movie out of this, although he would probably violence it up some. It was ok, I didn't like how the last "loose end" was dealt with in the end, not to give anything away.
John Perrone
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oscar what have you done! You have died and in your moment of this passing on to a place that you do not believe in you are trying to tell us the meaning of life? Get a job! You could not even have a normal relationship with your "local drug dealer". A drug dealer that needed to be strangled to reach sexual climax and you, a professor of philosophy, obliging! The narco that was chasing you and the drugs had more to say, philosophy wise! The con man that you held responsible for the death of your ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it

A Philosophy of Ruin
• by Nicholas Mancusi (published 2019, under 300 pages)

A young philosophy professor (29-year-old Oscar Boatwright) finds himself in the middle of a drug-running operation after his personal life derails in this taut, white-knuckle debut for fans of Breaking Bad

Oscar..., a disenchanted (assistant) philosophy professor (at a northern California College), receives terrible news. His mother (Delia), on her way home from Hawaii with Oscar’s father (Lee), has died midfligh(),(),/>
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A good premise and compelling voice but the plot splutters then runs out of steam. Some thought provoking questions are raised but I come away more disappointed than inspired.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Nothing seemed to flow here. The story was all over the place and I admit there was some disappointment with the ending.

Maybe some important bits were edited out and this is what the reader is left with.

The plot seemed like a good idea that was executed poorly.
Bruin Mccon
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Philosophy of Ruins is the story of Oscar whose mother dies unexpectedly, plunging his life into, as the title suggests, misery.

In quick succession he learns his father is not just broke but in debt, his sister in about the same shape, and his brief, 29-year-old life in shambles.

After the death of a loved one, conventional wisdom is to not make any big decisions for at least six months. This book is a cautionary tale in that respect.

He returns home to his professor job and
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a strange and interesting tale this is. We are introduced to Oscar Boatright, a struggling, underpaid assistant professor of philosophy. Oscar spends time pondering philosophical theories about the meaning of life and !Wham! is tossed into a real life drama when his depressive mother dies on a plane en route from Miami and must remain “ seated” next to her adoring husband while the plane crosses the Pacific. The absurd black humor in this situation is depicted skillfully. It is just the fir ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent novel which treats serious subjects with a lightly humorous touch despite things being really, really bad that I had to keep reading. Oscar, a young philosophy professor, finds his life going into a tailspin when his mother suddenly dies on an airplane. Then he finds out his parents' money has been spent on a self-help guru which just rubs him wrong - philosophically as well as financially. As it turns out, Oscar's philosophical specialty involves compatibilism which means t ...more
Darcia Helle
I've been struggling to sum up how I feel about this book. What I realized is that my feelings mimic the story: all over the place with no clear definition one way or another.

The writing is strong, as far as sentence structure and the ability to grab attention. The writing is not so strong in regards to building an interesting plot.

I totally enjoyed the first third of the story. The family dynamics intrigued me, as did the unraveling of what happened with Oscar's mother p
Karen Adkins
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was uneven. It wasn't sure what it wanted to be; a philosophical meditation on the meaninglessness of life, a crime novel with drug runners, a novel about the banality of bourgeois families. It sometimes did each of the three well, but for a first novel, doing all three at once (and in a pretty short novel) means you have to be a pretty compelling writer. Mancusi is good, but he's not compelling. He actually did a great job mixing in the philosophy without piling it on pretentiously (m ...more
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