A Philosophy of Ruin: Book summary and reviews of A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi

A Philosophy of Ruin

by Nicholas Mancusi

A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi X
A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2019
    256 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

A young philosophy professor finds himself in the middle of a drug-running operation after his personal life derails in this taut, white-knuckle debut for fans of Breaking Bad.

Oscar Boatwright, a disenchanted philosophy professor, receives terrible news. His mother, on her way home from Hawaii with Oscar's father, has died midflight, her body cooling for hours until the plane can land.

Deeply grieving, Oscar feels his life slipping out of his control. A seemingly innocuous one-night stand with a woman named Dawn becomes volatile when, on the first day of classes, he realizes she is his student, and later learns that she is a fledgling campus drug lord. To make matters worse, his family is in debt, having lost their modest savings to a self-help guru who had indoctrinated Oscar's mother by preying on her depression. Desperate to help his family, Oscar breaks with his academic personality—he agrees to help Dawn with a drug run.

A Philosophy of Ruin rumbles with brooding nihilism, then it cracks like a whip, hurtling Oscar and Dawn toward a terrifying threat on the road. Can Oscar halt the acceleration of chaos? Or was his fate never in his control? Taut, ferocious and blazingly intelligent, A Philosophy of Ruin is a heart-pounding thrill ride into the darkest corners of human geography, and a philosophical reckoning with the forces that determine our destiny.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"For all its edgy, downbeat humor, the novel inspires a deep emotional investment in Oscar. The big existential questions that get asked are brilliantly framed by his antics. The payoff is, dare we say it, profound." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Oscar's struggles with his family's pain and his own desperation are tenderly written, and his frenetic spiral into illicit affairs is both moving and humorous. Mancusi's novel successfully depicts the long, mutating shadow of grief and depression." - Publishers Weekly

"A gripping thriller…Mancusi's writing is sophisticated, graceful, and deeply empathetic." - Booklist

"A quick, terrifying, uncompromising novel about fate and family with echos of Denis Johnson and Robert Stone, but with a dark, propulsive energy all its own. This novel marks the arrival of a voice that will be bringing us the worst news in the most riveting fashion for many years to come." - David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine

"Nicholas Mancusi's potent first novel trembles along the fault lines of our destinies and dread. Honed in prose that reaches both within and without, A Philosophy of Ruin boasts what many novels don't even know they need: a gusto unafraid of sounding what is best and worst in us." - William Giraldi, author of Hold the Dark

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Author Information

Nicholas Mancusi

Nicholas Mancusi has written about books and culture for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newsday, Newsweek, NPR Books, American Arts Quarterly, BOMB magazine, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

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