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At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2013
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Description

A stunning novel of friendship, guilt, and madness: two friends, torn apart by a terrible secret, and the dark adventure that neither of them could have ever conceived.
 
It’s been ten years since the “incident,” and Adam has long since decided he’s better off without his former best friend, Thomas. Adam is working as a tutor, sleeping with the mother of a student, spending lonely nights looking up his ex-girlfriend on Facebook, and pretending that he has some more meaningful plan for an adult life. But when he receives an email from Thomas’s mother begging for his help, he finds himself drawn back into his old friend’s world, and into the past he’s tried so desperately to forget. As Adam embarks upon a magnificently strange and unlikely journey, Ben Dolnick unspools a tale of spiritual reckoning, of search and escape, of longing and reaching for redemption—a tale of near hallucinatory power.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.  

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/03/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307907998
ASIN:
B00BRUQ2F4
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Ben Dolnick. (2013). At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Ben Dolnick. 2013. At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Ben Dolnick, At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Ben Dolnick. At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:47:47
Date Updated:
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        Ben Dolnick is the author of the novels You Know Who You Are and Zoology, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and on NPR. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife.

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At the Bottom of Everything
fullDescription

A stunning novel of friendship, guilt, and madness: two friends, torn apart by a terrible secret, and the dark adventure that neither of them could have ever conceived.
 
It’s been ten years since the “incident,” and Adam has long since decided he’s better off without his former best friend, Thomas. Adam is working as a tutor, sleeping with the mother of a student, spending lonely nights looking up his ex-girlfriend on Facebook, and pretending that he has some more meaningful plan for an adult life. But when he receives an email from Thomas’s mother begging for his help, he finds himself drawn back into his old friend’s world, and into the past he’s tried so desperately to forget. As Adam embarks upon a magnificently strange and unlikely journey, Ben Dolnick unspools a tale of spiritual reckoning, of search and escape, of longing and reaching for redemption—a tale of near hallucinatory power.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.  

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Adelle Waldman, New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Ben Dolnick's first two novels . . . were intelligent, amiable books, about the coming-of-age of middle-class male protagonists. They were warmhearted and strikingly perceptive about their heroes' feelings . . . . Dolnick has retained his strengths--his sensitive gauge for emotional states and his empathy--but his writing is more taut, more piquant, not only observant but wry in its depiction of human fallibility. The result is a lively, often funny book about being young and smart and confused, fumbling through life in a middle-class American sort of way . . . . Dolnick nails the casual brutality with which teenagers drop people they were once close to . . . . Dolnick narrates with a deft comic touch . . . . There is a lifelike complexity to the way it all plays out . . . . In this slim, surprisingly haunting book, Dolnick reminds us that part of being a healthy and functional human is a willingness to act a little bit selfish, a little cruel in our ability to walk away from...
      • premium: False
      • source: Dan Duray, The Observer
      • content: "The characters in Ben Dolnick's new novel, At the Bottom of Everything . . . have a trauma in their shared past--not that friendships need a reason to disintegrate--but that's almost besides the point. The best parts of this novel involve watching the effect of this distance on its two eccentric and well-drawn characters. They're a bit reminiscent of Martin Amis types in that they are both intelligent and flawed--the sort of combination that makes you want to hop on their backs and see where the story takes them."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 29, 2013
        Haunted by a secret from his adolescence that resulted in the end of his relationship with his best friend, Adam Sanecki tries to navigate his adult life by ignoring the past, until it comes roaring back, in Dolnick’s poignant, if at times clichéd, novel (after You Know Who You Are). His time at Dupont Prep in Washington, D.C., was awkward for Adam until he met Thomas Pell, the resident oddball genius. The friendship evolved until the two boys were spending nearly every day after school at Thomas’s house; an extra place was regularly set at the dinner table for Adam. Interspersed with Adam’s boyhood memories are scenes from his lackluster adult life, where he’s working half-heartedly as a tutor, half-considering law school, and sleeping with the mother of one of his tutees. The incident that splintered Adam and Thomas’s friendship is certainly horrifying but not altogether unique in the world of fictional seminal moments. In the present, Adam ignores the repeated pleas of Thomas’s parents, Richard and Sally, who beg him to help them track down their wayward son—now a mentally unhinged dropout, last seen in India. Adam’s eventual acceptance of the task is inevitable, and while Dolnick depicts a journey that is both mentally and spiritually taxing, the outcome and resolution are the least interesting aspects of a story that takes its strengths from the richly drawn characters.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2013
        A melancholy young man stuck in the wilderness years of his mid-20s is forced to confront a buried secret when a childhood friend disappears. At first, it would appear that Dolnick (You Know Who You Are, 2010, etc.) is simply going to roll out the same coming-of-age story that characterized his first two novels--and for the first hundred pages or so, he pretty much does. And then the novel loses its mind, but we'll get to that part. Adam Sanecki is a giant mope who feels old at the ripe age of 26. He tutors obnoxious children with as little interest as possible, trolls Facebook to stalk his wispy ex-girlfriend and sleeps with one of his student's mothers out of what seems sheer boredom. In between all this navel-gazing, we get a rather sweet story of Adam's childhood friendship with Thomas Pell, a brilliant, awkward classmate at their exclusive prep school. They share a secret language and that unguarded bond that so often springs up between adolescents. Then Something Bad happens that marks both boys for life. Adam carries his secret by burying it, while Thomas starts to mentally unravel almost immediately. Then things get really weird. At the behest of Thomas' terrified parents, Adam travels to New Delhi, India, where a mentally ill Thomas has gone to ground. This takes up two-thirds of the book; the whole setup seems rather preposterous. Adam meets an enigmatic spiritual leader who says Thomas must "purify." Later, Thomas and Adam are forced to take responsibility for the trespass from their youth. A final reunion between the lifelong friends in a cave rings hollow, as does Adam's admission of guilt. Insincere characterizations and a weak central conflict detract from the novel. See instead Alex Garland's The Beach.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2013

        Dolnick's third novel revisits the themes of his earlier work: early adulthood angst (Zoology) and the intricacies of family (You Know Who You Are). Central character Adam admits that he is avoiding a transition to adulthood by becoming a high school tutor. The first half of the book takes readers back and forth between his current conundrum involving jealousy and obsession with two women and memories of a close childhood friendship with the precocious Thomas. These two stories come together when Thomas's parents ask for Adam's help, a journey he is willing to undertake both to escape his current situation and to deal with a defining adolescent incident. His travels to find Thomas take him to India, where he experiences culture shock, which keeps us from appreciating the setting. The conclusion hints at a religious transcendence from the physical and everyday, but the narrative cannot support such complex ideas, and the character's transformation seems abrupt. VERDICT A quick, intoxicating read for those interested in suburban post-college stories. Other readers may find its scope too limited and its description of India and meditation a bit glib.--Kate Gray, Shrewsbury P.L., MA

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2013
        In the follow-up to You Know Who You Are (2011), Dolnick expertly magnifies the minutiae of youth, loneliness, and a friendship gone wrong. Living in Washington, D.C., at 26, Adam Sanecki isn't where he'd once imagined himself. Fresh from a breakup and perpetually avoiding law school, he begins tutoring middle-schoolers to give his life meaning. It doesn't help that he has been sleeping with a tutee's mother, has been shirking his family, and, most troublesomely, has received multiple pleas from the mother of his onetime bestie, Thomas, to reconnect with her son. Brainy, unpopular, and unsightly, Thomas endured adolescence by seemingly disabling his emotions, a characteristic Adam once admired. They had sleepovers, philosophized, and dreamed of girlfriends until an alarming accident drove them apart. As Adam sloughs through his twenties, reconfiguring the past, he finally journeys around the globe to reconcile the foreboding secret he shares with Thomas. In this coming-of-age-at-least-twice novel, Dolnick's insights into life's bleaker spells are wise and entertaining, making for an invigorating and transcendent reminder of how haunting old friendships can be.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription

A stunning novel of friendship, guilt, and madness: two friends, torn apart by a terrible secret, and the dark adventure that neither of them could have ever conceived.
 
It’s been ten years since the “incident,” and Adam has long since decided he’s better off without his former best friend, Thomas. Adam is working as a tutor, sleeping with the mother of a student, spending lonely nights looking up his ex-girlfriend on Facebook, and pretending that he has some more meaningful plan for an adult life. But when he receives an email from Thomas’s mother begging for his help, he finds himself drawn back into his old friend’s world, and into the past he’s tried so desperately to forget. As Adam embarks upon a magnificently strange and unlikely journey, Ben Dolnick unspools a tale of spiritual reckoning, of search and escape, of longing and reaching for redemption—a tale of near hallucinatory power.


This...

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