Thurlow Dan is the founder of the Helix, a cult that promises to cure loneliness in the twenty-first century. With its communes and speed-dating, mixers and confession sessions, the Helix has become a national phenomenon - and attracted the attention of governments worldwide. But Thurlow, camped out in his Cincinnati headquarters, is lonely - for his ex-wife, Esme, and their daughter, whom he hasn't seen in ten years.
Esme, for her part, is a covert agent who has spent her life spying on Thurlow, mostly to protect him from the law. Now, with her superiors demanding results, she recruits four misfits to botch a reconnaissance mission in Cincinnati. But when Thurlow takes them hostage, he ignites a siege of the Helix House that will change all their lives forever.
With fiery, exuberant prose, Fiona Maazel takes us on a wild ride through North Korea's guarded interior and a city of vice beneath Cincinnati, a ride that twists and turns as it delves into an unsettled, off-kilter America. Woke Up Lonely is an original and deeply funny novel that explores our very human impulse to seek and repel intimacy with the people who matter to us most.
There are a few writers I love, and gorge on, simply for their writing; they could spend eleven pages describing a teacup and I'd be on board, salivating for more. The list is short: David Foster Wallace, Gertrude Stein, Cintra Wilson. And now: Fiona Maazel. I would go anywhere with Maazel. Whether you're as enchanted by her language as I am or not (though I promise, she will enchant you), Woke Up Lonely is a spectacular novel. You must read it. (Reviewed by Morgan Macgregor).
..this story is weird, thrilling, and inimitable.
The Daily Beast
[Maazel] has a real talent for taking these existential millstones of modern life—fear of death, failure, being alone, everything—and filtering them into morbidly funny, troublingly familiar forms. . . . Woke Up Lonely easily refutes the idea that the novel is a staid, obsolete form of writing. The stakes in Maazel's book are at least as real as any work of nonfiction, and it's a good deal more fun to read than any manifesto.
The talented Maazel has plenty of imagination.
Los Angeles Review of Books
Sweeping, achingly honest . . . Woke Up Lonely is both a mirror and magic looking glass, reflecting who we are and who we have the potential to become.
[W]hat's best about the novel and Maazel's skills as a storyteller...[is] her exploration of the different shades of loneliness.
Maazel manages to strike a number of tones here - from poignant (all Lo wants is to get back with wife and daughter) to paranoid - and she's successful at every level.
Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers Woke Up Lonely is the novel equivalent of a sonic boom - it builds, it explodes, it leaves your ears, mind, and soul ringing for days. Who else writes sentences like this, who else writes sound art prose that transports a heart-killing story of human frailty, susceptibility, loyalty, and isolation? No one.
Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
Fiona Maazel’s imagination is so wild . . . that you feel like you’ve woken up into one of those rare novels as real as life. Hooray for such a talent!
In book reviews for Woke Up Lonely, Scientology is often invoked as a cultural reference for the Helix. The reasons for this are clear enough: both are worldwide organizations committed to individual and social change, both are led by one man who claims to have the secret to happiness, and both are largely suspected, by outsiders, to be cults (the Church of Scientology has been riddled with controversy with former members claiming to have been incarcerated extensively).
The primary "truth" upon which Scientology is constructed is this:
"Man is a spiritual being endowed with abilities well beyond those which he normally envisions. He is not only able to solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but he can achieve new states of awareness he may never have dreamed possible."
In other words, much like the Helix and other belief systems and religions, the focus is on betterment of the individual (although the methods of reaching this goal vary).
A collection of short-stories from widely acclaimed author Haruki Murakami. Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an iceman, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for.
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