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Know Your Beholder: A Novel
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From a Pulitzer Prize finalist comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a musician climbing back from rock bottom.
As winter deepens in snowbound Pollard, Illinois, thirty-something Francis Falbo is holed up in his attic apartment, recovering from a series of traumas: his mother's death, his beloved wife's desertion, and his once-ascendant rock band's irreconcilable break-up. Francis hasn't shaved in months, hasn't so much as changed out of his bathrobe-"the uniform of a Life in Default"-for nine days.
Other than the agoraphobia that continues to hold him hostage, all he has left is his childhood home, whose remaining rooms he rents to a cast of eccentric tenants, including a pair of former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. The tight-knit community has already survived a blizzard, but there is more danger in store for the citizens of Pollard before summer arrives. Francis is himself caught up in these troubles as he becomes increasingly entangled in the affairs of others, with results that are by turns disastrous, hysterical, and ultimately healing.
Fusing consummate wit with the seriousness attending an adulthood gone awry, Rapp has written an uproarious and affecting novel about what we do and where we go when our lives have crumbled around us. Sharp-edged but tenderhearted, Know Your Beholder introduces us to one of the most lovably flawed characters in recent fiction, a man at last able to collect the jagged pieces of his dreams and begin anew, in both life and love. Seldom have our foibles and our efforts to persevere in spite of them been laid bare with such heart and hope.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/03/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780316294799, 9780316368902
ASIN:
B00KVK31BE

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Adam Rapp. (2015). Know Your Beholder: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Adam Rapp. 2015. Know Your Beholder: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Adam Rapp, Know Your Beholder: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Adam Rapp. Know Your Beholder: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. 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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      • bioText: An acclaimed filmmaker and playwright, Adam Rapp was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play Red Light Winter and is the recipient of the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other honors.
        In addition to his numerous plays, he is the author of the novel The Year of Endless Sorrows and several YA novels, including Under the Wolf, Under the Dog, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He lives in New York City.
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Know Your Beholder
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From a Pulitzer Prize finalist comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a musician climbing back from rock bottom.
As winter deepens in snowbound Pollard, Illinois, thirty-something Francis Falbo is holed up in his attic apartment, recovering from a series of traumas: his mother's death, his beloved wife's desertion, and his once-ascendant rock band's irreconcilable break-up. Francis hasn't shaved in months, hasn't so much as changed out of his bathrobe-"the uniform of a Life in Default"-for nine days.
Other than the agoraphobia that continues to hold him hostage, all he has left is his childhood home, whose remaining rooms he rents to a cast of eccentric tenants, including a pair of former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. The tight-knit community has already survived a blizzard, but there is more danger in store for the citizens of Pollard before summer arrives. Francis is himself caught up in these troubles as he becomes increasingly entangled in the affairs of others, with results that are by turns disastrous, hysterical, and ultimately healing.
Fusing consummate wit with the seriousness attending an adulthood gone awry, Rapp has written an uproarious and affecting novel about what we do and where we go when our lives have crumbled around us. Sharp-edged but tenderhearted, Know Your Beholder introduces us to one of the most lovably flawed characters in recent fiction, a man at last able to collect the jagged pieces of his dreams and begin anew, in both life and love. Seldom have our foibles and our efforts to persevere in spite of them been laid bare with such heart and hope.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: Rapp's novel is surprisingly high-spirited, comic without diminishing the emotional depth of his motley crew. That''s largely thanks to Rapp's gift for figurative language.
      • premium: False
      • source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
      • content: Rapp is such a skillful and evocative writer he can make magic out of the ordinary stuff of daily life... Know Your Beholder has a surprisingly satisfying finish on multiple levels.. It's nothing less than masterful.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jonathan Tropper, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where I Leave You and One Last Thing Before I Go
      • content: Know Your Beholder is funny and sad, smart and moving, dark and hopeful. Adam Rapp writes with a lyrical acumen and wit that are not just impressive, but immensely engaging.
      • premium: False
      • source: Hari Kunzru%2C author of the national bestseller The Impressionist
      • content: Know Your Beholder is a message from the heart and from the beard, a message from the new weird America to every guy who's ever spent too much time in his bathrobe and every women who's ever considered what that guy would look like if he actually got himself together and shaved. Adam Rapp knows about laughing to keep from crying. He's a melancholy Lenny Bruce of the sentence and his imagination is never less than intense.
      • premium: False
      • source: David Bezmozgis%2C Giller Prize finalist and author of The Betrayers
      • content: Adam Rapp's Know Your Beholder is a wry, big-hearted novel that captures the contradictions of the American present—with its good intensions, self-deceptions, grand ambitions, and crippling fears.
      • premium: False
      • source: A. M. Homes%2C New York Times bestselling author of The Mistress's Daughter and May We Be Forgiven
      • content: Adam Rapp is an exciting and fearless writer. From the dark places of the soul he mines equal parts pain and light. In Know Your Beholder, he has fully and unapologetically rendered each of his characters-men and women alike, both good actors and bad. This rueful and immensely entertaining novel is his best work yet, a transfixing study of the heart's resilience and the complicated beauty of living that provides the kind of consolation that only our greatest fictions can.
      • premium: False
      • source: William Giraldi%2C author of Hold the Dark and Busy Monsters
      • content: With Know Your Beholder, Adam Rapp has ascended into the upper ranks of American fiction. His narrator, Francis Falbo, is an unforgettable crooner of heartwreck and hilarity, and the narrative itself is woven of uncommon tenderness and beauty as the dreams of the past meet the ghosts in their present.
      • premium: False
      • source: Brad Watson%2C National Book Award finalist for The Heaven of Mercury
      • content: Know Your Beholder is hilarious and deeply sad, often at the same time. Such an eerie beauty permeates this tale—with its haunting descriptions of houses, people, music, tornado storms, agoraphobic terror, lost children, lost minds—that when you finish you feel you've awakened from one of the narrator's strange, heartbreaking dreams, filled with a kind of inexplicable, overwhelming love.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 19, 2015
        Filmmaker and playwright Rapp’s (The Year of Endless Sorrows) chatty, absurdist take on loss and depression centers on a downtrodden thirty-something who has lost hope for just about everything. That thirty-something, musician Francis Falbo, has become a shut-in agoraphobic, snowbound throughout a winter season in his attic in rural Pollard, Ill., as he soothes his broken spirit from a trio of misfortunes: his mother has died, his wife left him for an “intergalactically fit” younger man, and the “anti-industry psychedelic semi-jam” rock group that kept him energized has disbanded. His drug dealer’s expanded selection of goodies pacifies him while the adventures of the assorted tenants who occupy his house’s spare rooms suffice for entertainment, and he obsesses about the cleanliness of his beard and his penis. High in the attic above everyone else, up at all hours either drunk or brooding about his lack of a life, Falbo presents his raw, strange narration through the paralysis of bad luck and unfortunate circumstance: a “Life in Default,” as he calls it. Written out in the form of an intimately journaled manuscript and infused with black humor and embittered angst, it would seem as if Rapp’s indelicate story could’ve been too sullen to enjoy, but Falbo’s darkly humorous agitation and unfiltered ruminations are just a few of the many reasons readers will find themselves enchanted.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 1, 2015
        Rapp (The Year of Endless Sorrows, 2006, etc.) brings dark humor and honesty to a story of death, divorce and disappearance.We meet 30-something Francis Falbo at the onset of his agoraphobia. He hasn't left the house in nearly a month, has been wearing the same bathrobe for nine days and has developed a "real anxiety" that his beard might smell "gamey, like wet squirrel." Francis writes the pages we read in the form of a personal manuscript not intended for an audience. Nonetheless, he's compelled to explain how he came to this sorry state. His mother, we learn, has died, his wife has left him for a slightly younger man with a "chiseled, perfect jaw line," and his once-promising rock band, the Third Policeman, has not so much dissolved as spectacularly imploded in one of the novel's more ridiculous scenes wherein the bassist comes out as gay and the drummer comes out as a "passionate homophobe, a terrible friend, and...a hairy emotional Nazi." Rather than deal with his paralysis and personal crises, Francis immerses himself in his duties as a landlord and follows the lives of the eccentric tenants sharing his childhood home through one interminable Midwestern winter. At his most affecting, Francis is insightful and concise in his assessments of himself and others. When he sees his own reflection, he is relieved to look "mostly sad....Sad in the same way that weather can be sad." Elsewhere, however, his dramatic shifts toward the absurd may thrust a reader emotionally off balance. Likewise, slapstick accounts of Francis' many hang-ups-including the size and color of his penis-may stretch a reader's patience and take away from the otherwise profound account of "all the things we must survive." An intimate, frustrating account of a man failing to deal with his failure.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        January 1, 2015
        In his second novel for adults, award-winning YA author Rapp (The Children and the Wolves, 2012) turns in a funny, touching story about a down-and-out musician suffering from agoraphobia. Once a member of a rising alt-rock band, thirtysomething Francis Falbo has fallen into a serious depression ever since his mom died from cancer, his band imploded, and his wife left him. Now he resides in the attic of his family home in the small, fictional town of Pollard in southern Illinois. He has turned the rest of the house into a series of apartments, which he rents out to a coterie of eccentrics, including former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. Although not a lot happens externally, Francis slowly sheds his lethargy as he realizes that wallowing in past regrets will not bring him back his band or his ex-wife. Rapp excels at describing a certain kind of male decrepitude ( The beard is mangy and random with riptides ), capturing the feel of small-town living, and lacing his prose with apt, smart music references.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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

        September 15, 2014

        A Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, recipient of awards from PEN and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, noted screenwriter/director (Winter Passing), and author of The Year of Endless Sorrows, Rapp is nothing like his protagonist, washed-up rock musician Francis Falbo. Francis is stuck in his bathrobe in the attic apartment of his childhood home, mourning his mother's death, his wife's desertion, and the breakup of his band. He rents the other rooms to an intriguingly nutty bunch, with consequences chaotic and, ultimately, heartening.

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From a Pulitzer Prize finalist comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a musician climbing back from rock bottom.
As winter deepens in snowbound Pollard, Illinois, thirty-something Francis Falbo is holed up in his attic apartment, recovering from a series of traumas: his mother's death, his beloved wife's desertion, and his once-ascendant rock band's irreconcilable break-up. Francis hasn't shaved in months, hasn't so much as changed out of his bathrobe-"the uniform of a Life in Default"-for nine days.
Other than the agoraphobia that continues to hold him hostage, all he has left is his childhood home, whose remaining rooms he rents to a cast of eccentric tenants, including a pair of former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. The tight-knit community has already survived a blizzard, but there is more danger in store for the citizens of Pollard before summer arrives. Francis is himself caught up in these troubles as he becomes increasingly...
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