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Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

among the ten thousand

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 4 stars
Pre-order your copy here:Among the Ten Thousand Things

Among Ten Thousand Things is about the events, big and small, that lead to the eventual breakdown of a family. When Jack Shanley’s mistress tries to expose their affair to his wife by mailing her a package with their sexually explicit correspondence, his young daughter intercepts the package and both children read it. The remainder of the book centers around what happens to all members of the family after this event. Each member of the family responds in their own way leading to the eventual breakdown of their family unit.

Although the premise of this novel was not especially original (infidelity, dysfunctional families, etc), I did enjoy this book. Pierpont is a talented writer and it shows in this book. The writing was very strong and drew me into the story. This was a character-driven book that was emotionally powerful and felt very realistic.

The structure was interesting but I feel somewhat ambivalent about whether it was an effective one for me. The book is divided into 4 parts that break free of chronological sequence. Part 2 fast forwards through to the “end” of the story then parts three and four cycle back to the point where part 1 ended. Thus, the reader knows the outcome of the characters’ lives before reading about how their lives get to that final point. On the one hand, I found this strategy interesting because it shifts attention away from the ultimate conclusion and onto the slow unfolding of events which contribute to the conclusion. This is not about finding out what happened but rather why things happened the way they did. On the other hand, I can see how some people become disengaged after learning about the ending of the story at the book’s halfway point. I think some people will love this technique and it will drive others crazy.

Unlike Jonathan Safran Foer who is quoted on the book cover as saying the book is “among the funniest… I’ve read in a long time,” I did not find much humor in the story. There were moments that made me smile, but for the most part I found the the story to be very sad. This did not detract from my experience. I found the situation to be realistic and found the small details interesting. What makes this book wonderful is that it isn’t about the large or sensationalist elements, it’s about how the smaller details contribute to the overall picture.

A warning to readers who are sensitive about language. The first part of the book does contain some vulgar and graphic language (e.g., multiple use of “c**t, etc). I thought that it worked for the purposes of the storyline but some readers may find it offensive. That sort of language fades away in later portions of the novel.

Overall, I thought it was a strong debut novel. Pierpont is a talented writer and I think she shows lots of promise from this debut novel. The publishers write that this book is for “fans of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore, and Curtis Sittenfeld. I do agree that if you like those authors, you will probably also like this book (although I don’t think it comes close to Franzen’s Freedom which is a much stronger portrayal of the modern American Family).

Want to try it for yourself. You can pre-order your copy here: Among the Ten Thousand Things

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. You know me and twisted time lines I love ’em will keep an eye out for this when my TBR is smaller

    Like

    June 24, 2015
    • I hope you read this. I also like books that play around with timelines. I’m not sure it worked that well with this book although I did like it a lot for other reasons. I’ll be curious to see what you think

      Like

      June 24, 2015
  2. This sounds really interesting- nice review 🙂
    I’ve nominated you for a Liebstar Award! My post on it is here: http://snazzybooks.com/2015/06/25/the-liebstar-award/
    – Laura 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    June 25, 2015
    • Aw, thanks! We do have over 200 followers though so I won’t be participating but I appreciate the sentiment. I love following your blog too!

      Like

      June 25, 2015

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