- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (14 March 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501156160
- ISBN-13: 978-1501156168
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,59,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
One of the Boys: A Novel Hardcover – 14 Mar 2017
|Hardcover, 14 Mar 2017||
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“Feral and tender . . . a gorgeously tight tale swelling with wisdom about the self-destructive longing for paternal approval and the devastating consequences of clinging to rotten models of masculinity. . . . Magariel’s gripping and heartfelt debut is a blunt reminder that the boldest assertion of manhood is not violence stemming from fear. It is tenderness stemming from compassion.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“A knockout debut... A shimmering, heartbreaking portrait of children fiercely devoted to a damaged parent and of the intense sibling bond that helps them through.” (People)
"A slim, deeply affecting and brutal story, One of the Boys is about the fierce power of a father-son relationship... what Magariel achieves is a novel that makes readers feel what it would be like to live on high alert all the time; to be at the mercy of a father's addictions, crackpot whims and surges of violence. He also makes us feel what it would be like to still love such a father. The subject of One of the Boys is archetypal, but Magariel's novel depicts it with the power of stark revelation. We cannot turn away." (NPR, Fresh Air)
"Striking... A novel of short, blunt, often powerful sentences... Musical and painterly." (Boston Globe)
"One of the most striking debut novels of the year... one of the most affecting portrayals of the bonds that keep us tied to family... It's [his] compassion and deep understanding of the dynamics of addiction that make Daniel Magariel's slim book an important one." (Rolling Stone)
"Brilliant, urgent, darkly funny, heartbreaking—a tour de force with startling new things to say about class, masculinity, addiction, and family. Daniel Magariel is an exciting new presence in American writing." (George Saunders, author of Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo)
"Precise and coiled and urgent. Magariel is able--as few writers can--to say so much in so little. A propulsive and intense debut." (Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life)
"Intense, harrowing and brilliantly written... Brutally honest and lyrically compelling... Shows a mastery of control and a labyrinth of nuance... Stunning." (Providence Journal)
“With a charismatic, macho, drug-addicted dad, the young narrator pays an awful price to be One of the Boys in the riveting debut novel by Daniel Magariel. Move over Great Santini, this patriarch is rendered with such artful love, you'll be haunted by his presence long after you close this graceful and heartbreaking book.” (Mary Karr, author of Lit and The Liar's Club)
"A captivating portrait of a wayward father, brimming with charm and trouble." (Justin Torres, author of We the Animals)
About the Author
Daniel Magariel is an author from Kansas City. His work has appeared in Granta, Lit Hub, Salt Hill, Stop Smiling, and Issue Magazine, among others. One of the Boys, his first novel, was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and Amazon Best Book of 2017, and was published in twelve countries. He has a BA from Columbia University, as well as an MFA from Syracuse University, where he was a Cornelia Carhart Fellow. He currently lives in New York with his wife. Visit him at DanielMagariel.com.See all Product description
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As a twelve-year-old boy in the middle of his parents' divorce-
1. Will you lie for the better good?
2. Will you believe in every lie that comes out of the mouth of the parent you lied for? Sided with?
3. What will you do when you know you've been removed from hell and are placed in an even worse and grotesque version?
4. How would you get yourself out of the mess that you were manipulated into the first place?
5. What will you do only to survive each day, every hour, each passing minute?
One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel is a raw and naked version of what many authors have glamorized and dressed-up to soften the blows of domestic abuse, child abuse (which is psychological and physical). It is rightly done because the narrator is a twelve-year-old boy who's speaking his mind through the prose of One of the Boys.
The narrative is simple yet powerful; moving and desperate and everything in between. Even when the main characters in the book had no names, the story caught my attention from the very first sentence. I could only compare the anonymity of the characters to those people in video recordings whose faces are blurred or they sit in darkness and narrate their heart-wrenching story. This anonymity had the same effect on me. I did feel connected even when there was no mention of names. It was a high-risk play by the author, but the story left me feeling too much of everything and had my heart beating with anxiety. I could connect to the boys on every level.
With the straight-forward narrative, there was no place left for the reader and observer in me to comment or offer a suggestion. As a twelve-year-old boy and his fourteen-year-old brother, they did come up with possibilities and solutions on their own.
How do you cope up with a lying, manipulative, drug-addict father?
How do you seek help from a mother who you've abandoned to be with your father?
How do the boys overcome the psychological and physical abuse suffered by the hands of both their parents?
I have no idea.
I swear to God, One of the Boys made me cry for all those children tangled in this chaotic mess of a life. They're helpless at the hands of their abusers, whom they trust the most. There were disturbing excerpts throughout the book which made me re-read the passages even when they disgusted me to the bone. These passages also made feel grateful for having parents who are such wonderful human beings.
Coming back to the feelings of the boys suffering at the hands of their narcissistic father. Daniel Magariel did a spectacular job of showing the feelings of the two brothers. The angst, the helplessness, isolation, feelings of denial and confusion, and the fear of the unpredictable behavior and punishment at the hands of their father kept the boys on their toes and me on edge.
I reserved my pity for the parents who being adults couldn't get a handle on their own problems and how the boys suffered at their incompetence. The family was dysfunctional at best from all angles, but I rooted for the brothers till the end.
The style in which the epilogue was written was a massive risk, a kind of jerky portrayal of 'what could've been' and it brought tears to my eyes. We don't know what happened to the boys or their father or their mother in the end. It kept me up all night thinking about the possibilities.
Oh. The. Possibilities.
I'm open for discussion because this story/reality really stirred my soul.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
After what seems to be a messy divorce predicated by abuse, a father and his two sons move from Kansas to New Mexico to start over after “the war” (the divorce, as the father calls it). The story is written from the perspective of the younger son who is twelve. The boys attempt to fit in at their new schools while the father works from home, but eventually the father begins using substances heavily. He becomes paranoid and abusive (both physically and psychologically).
After reading that summary, you’re probably wondering, “Where is the end?” Well…after finishing reading, there doesn’t really seem to be one. The boys, their father, and their mother (who is still in Kansas) seem to continue these patterns of quasi-normalcy, substance abuse, abuse, and then repeat. The boys become enablers for their father’s substance use and avoid his wrath (and presence) whenever possible.
Reading this was depressing, as I’m sure it was intended to be. No end in sight of this pattern of behavior for these kids who are in their teens. I can’t help but wonder how this will affect them long-term. The writing was very good – very descriptive, and in some parts almost beautiful. If a writer can make you feel as horrible as you feel at the end of this book, then they have done something right (because otherwise we wouldn’t feel for the characters).
Do I suggest reading this book? It depends, do you want to be made depressed on purpose? If you want to learn what it can be like to live in a substance-dominated household, then yes, most definitely read this. You’ll feel worse than when you started reading and may even struggle to finish it because you can feel that nothing is changing any time soon.
Shortly after their father wins custody, the boys and their father leave their Kansas home and set off for a mystical new life in Albuquerque. The prospect of a new life, just the three of them, is an exciting one. But as they start to get immersed in their new routines, things start to change. Their father's moods become dark and more erratic. Although he tells the boys he is working from home, he doesn't seem to be working much, or even at all. Instead, he is spending hours, even days locked in his room. His cigars don't hide the telltale smell of other things smoked that hangs in, and permeates through, their cramped apartment.
The boys start questioning whether they made the right decision to live with their father. He starts to become paranoid, starts coming and going at odd hours, disappearing at times and leaving the boys with no money. Other times, there are other strange people in the house with him. He lashes out, trying to turn brother against brother in an abusive, ugly test of loyalty to him.
Does their father really have their best interests at heart, as he says he does? Should they continue to trust him, and the strange comings and goings in their new environment, or should they try to go back to Kansas and live with their mother? Will she understand what happened during the divorce, or will she be so mad that she won’t let them back in? Just how bad can life treat these two innocent boys?
One Of The Boys does a fabulous job of accurately conveying the hurt, fear, and hope that these boys feel as they realize they're stuck in the middle of a battle much larger than themselves. What do you do when the person who says they love you, who convinces you you're better off with them, turns out not to be what they say they are?
This is a novel that you can devour in one sitting, and most probably will. Fair warning, if you are squeamish with physical abuse, addiction, or the dark side of life, this book may need to pass you by. For everyone else, this novel is a powerful reminder that children suffer every day across the globe, and we should all seek an answer, or provide a haven for those children in need. This engaging novel is one that will stay with you for a very long time.
Two teenage brothers. The younger one narrates, but I didn’t stick around to see which one would turn out to be the title character. Dad escapes Mom with the boys for a wild ride from Kansas to New Mexico. Dad is a dysfunctional druggie with a Superman complex, yet the boys stick with him despite his pathetic misadventures. I know this because I peeked at the last page, and there they are, Dad and the boys, vrooming off on another wild ride. The book’s cover says it’s “brilliant, urgent, darkly funny, heartbreaking,” but you can’t judge a book by its cover.
There are only three main characters in this narrative: the 12-year-old narrator, his slightly older brother, and their father. All three remain nameless. The narrator is manipulated into betraying his mother to become “one of the boys” – to take off with the other “boys” to New Mexico after a very contentious custody battle. The sense of adventure is palpable.
But it is not long before the seemingly charismatic father becomes erratic and dangerous. Emotionally and physically, he transforms, as a result of his extreme drug addiction. The boys are victimized and manipulated into turning on each other. And gradually, they realize the truth about their parents and what they can expect from them.
The prose is laconic yet page-turning It covers the same ground as, say, Tobias Wolff’s harrowing This Boy’s Life or Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, and others that focus on child abuse.