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Men in Black

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Darkly comic...satirical... lyrical...remarkable.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Berkley Trade (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  201 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to binge on authors I like. Spencer has a lot of bingeworthy potential, specifically a very natural storytelling ability. This one didn't win me over, though. The darkly comic aspect of it as advertised wasn't really there. It was a clever expertly done exploration of a typical newly suburban family of a certain social status in a crisis mode, but it was too meticulously crafted for its own good at times. Tapping into that bygone now plain silly premise of Y2K a pseudonymed pay per page s ...more
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Funny and original story about a writer who gets himself into a fix, and his relationship with his son. I like the way Spencer handled multiple point-of-view.
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I periodically re-read this book, knowing I'm going to be entertained again. I think of it as a really funny look at the little delusions that get us through the day, though the plot centers on a middle-aged writer whose life is coming unraveled at the instant of his biggest, if most puzzling success. Not to be confused with the movie starring Will Smith, it's about a novelist who never lived up to his earlier promise, and who now writes non-fiction throwaways like 'An Intelligent Woman's Guide ...more
Tony Perez-Giese
May 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
The author attempted to roll three books into less than 300 pages, and it didn't work. It seems like he realized this 250 pages in and just gave up on any and all semblance of a realistic and/or enjoyable ending. If you want to read a book about an author coping with sudden success, check out "Fools Die" by Mario Puzo. A good read on the subject of a deteriorating marriage is "Light Years" by James Salter. As for a novel about a runaway son, I'm at a loss, but I'm sure there's a better one out t ...more
Mar 02, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I abandoned this book when I realized that I did not care what happened to the narcissistic protagonist, his much put upon wife or his unhappy children. Seriously this book has little to offer and even though it was a free book, even at that price it was not worth the time I invested reading the portion that I did.
Chris H-C
Mar 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Gave up two-thirds in. What a petty little man with problems of his own creation.

It seems well-written, but I stopped caring what happened to any of the characters. A death knell for fiction, if ever there were one.
Geoffrey Kleinman
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone And Everyone
Looking for "The Great American Novel"? Look no further, Men in Black is it. Extraordinarily well written with extremely well done characters and the best ending to a book I've ever read. ...more
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Maybe it's just where I'm at in life, or maybe it's how he captured so perfectly the weirdness and ordinariness of life in general. So true, so sad, so great. ...more
Sam Holland is his his mid forties,a husband of sixteen years, a failed father(He believes) and a struggling novelist that is trying to make his mark in the world. His marriage, work and life is deflating as the times goes by and he seeks to find redemption. After many failed novels to his credit, he writes a bestselling book about UFOS, that is quickly getting all the rave reviews, not to mention the amount of money that he is receiving. Although he tries to be committed to Olivia and daughter ...more
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
2.5 of 5

Self-absorbed Sam Holland is a frustrated literary writer - all he wants to do is work on the great novel w/in. However, his family (two kids) and lack of capital make living in NYC impossible, so he moves to the country, meanwhile writing money-making drivel like "An Intelligent Woman's Guide to Pro Football." His deepest moral reserves are called upon when his son runs away after finding a dirty letter from his old mistress. Concurrently his latest drivel is skyrocketing in sales - thi
Andrew Smith
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
The most memorable moments that I had while reading this book were... the forty times that my co-worker read the title and asked me in an off-hand sort of way, "hey buddy, are you at the part where Will Smith has his big dance number?"

I didn't have the heart to break it to him, but the written word is simply incapable of capturing and bottling the magical moves of Will Smith.

I'm not sure he is ready to hear that... and I'm not even sure if I'm ready to hear that.

Nevertheless, "Men in Black" did
Rebecca Mazur
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Laugh-out-loud funny, extremely well-written, lots of interesting comments about marriage. It's about a fiction writer named Sam Holland who, writing under a fake name, has huge success with (his words) a pack of lies called Visitors from Above. Plot involves his writing career, his affair, his son's discovery of a letter from the lover, the son's subsequent running away from home, a ridiculous book tour, his relationships with his family of origin and the relationships in his nuclear family. Lo ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I have enjoyed reading Scott Spencer in the past....Ship of Paper and Waking the Dead.... but I found this one a little dull in the middle. It started off great and grabbed my interest, but then slogged in the middle and I had to force myself to finish it. I started to not like the main character. Instead of this character developing further as the novel went on, he seemed to become more and more shallow and less and less of a person. Read Spencer's other two mentioned above if you want to read ...more
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, to be honest, if you read the blurb from Robert Owen Butler, this is the greatest book ever.

It's not that. There are places that are good, the opening, the end, but the book waned for me in the dreaded middle. I can't say I found it funny. It does cover the anonymity and anomie of daily life, this is true, but funny? I don't recall laughing one time.

If you want funny in a wry way, try Floaters, Calvin Trillin.
Pat Fahrenthold
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, signed-copy
This is the story of a East Coast writer who makes up stuff about extraterrestrials and creates a bestseller. His idea about a secret agency that cleans up after UFO sightings and close encounters may have been the idea for the Tommie Lee Jones/Will Smith movie. Otherwise it is a typical navel-gazing novel of a dysfunctional New York City family who move to the suburbs and are really unhappy.
Scott Drummonds
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Beautifully written book. Spencer's prose is poetic. And he has a key imaginative eye for the small thoughts and actions of daily life. He understands they way our minds work in love and touches on the neurosis that afflicts us all with the ones we love.

But the story is not terribly interesting. At least not until the last third, when things become challenging for the characters.
Sonia Diaz
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
There is no doubt that Spencer is a remarkable and talented writer. I really enjoyed how his words touched my senses. However, I was expecting this to be a dark comedy, like the reviews I have read, or at least entertaining. However, he threw me the hook, line and sinker...didn't love the vague ending that left me hanging. ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Men in Black by Scott Spencer (1998)
Mar 07, 2011 marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended.
Beth Shields-Szostak
Jun 22, 2010 marked it as to-read
1st edition
Nov 29, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Liked this so much when I read it years ago, I read it again, and loved it as much as the first time.
P.S. Winn
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun read that is dark in its' own way. Love this different take on life. Sam Holland is a writer who doesn't handle fame well, neither does his dysfunctional family. ...more
rated it liked it
Oct 10, 2018
Roman Kubiak
rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2017
Elizabeth Quinn
rated it liked it
May 04, 2011
rated it really liked it
Dec 03, 2008
rated it it was ok
Apr 30, 2012
samuel kulla
rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2016
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Scott Spencer (b. 1945) is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of ten novels, including Endless Love and A Ship Made of Paper, both of which have been nominated for the National Book Award. Two of his books, Endless Love and Waking the Dead, have been adapted into films.

He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Iowa, and Williams College, and Bard College's Bard Prison Initi

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