A Calling for Charlie Barnes Summary and Reviews

A Calling for Charlie Barnes

by Joshua Ferris

A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris X
A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris
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  • Published Sep 2021
    352 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

From a National Book Award Finalist comes a novel about a modern American family and a man on a secret mission to uncover the world's hidden truths - until his two lives come crashing together.

Someone is telling the story of the life of Charlie Barnes, and it doesn't appear to be going well. Too often divorced, discontent with life's compromises and in a house he hates, this lifelong schemer and eternal romantic would like out of his present circumstances and into the American dream. But when the twin calamities of the Great Recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, and an infinite past full of forking paths quickly tapers to a black dot.

Then, against all odds, something goes right for a change: Charlie is granted a second act. With help from his storyteller son, he surveys the facts of his life and finds his true calling where he least expects it—in a sacrifice that redounds with selflessness and love—at last becoming the man his son always knew he could be.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes is a profound and tender portrait of a man whose desperate need to be loved is his downfall, and a brutally funny account of how that love is ultimately earned.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"NBA and Booker finalist Ferris returns with a compassionate metafictional portrait of a flawed father and his crumbling notion of the America dream...Despite the heavy subject matter, the story is often quite funny, and the themes at its core are those that will forever preoccupy humankind: purpose and death, but, mostly, love. Of Ferris's work, this is the big kahuna." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Good old-fashioned faux metafiction about death and family, full of panic and glee." - Kirkus Reviews

"A sly and self-referential novel about the subjectivity of memoir, or a Franzenesque portrait of a dysfunctional American family. Take your pick." - Library Journal

"A deeply funny, very moving book about that most pivotal and permanent of destinations: death. Ferris's hijinks are serious; his play is profound. There is magic in these pages." - Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies

"With meticulous, wry prose and a dash of self-effacing metafiction, Joshua Ferris delves deeply into the simultaneously extraordinary and ordinary life of Charlie Barnes, a man with as much failure in him as found in our bankrupted country. This novel, about dentures and toupees and all the ways we disguise ourselves from our intimates, is at its large heart a moving portrait of a father and son to rival the best of Roth." - Teddy Wayne, author of Apartment

"Joshua Ferris is one of our best writers, and A Calling for Charlie Barnes is wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant. Ingeniously written, it had me up reading late into the night. A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities." - Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

"Dazzling. Mind-blowing. About as much fun as you can have without risking arrest." - Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Chances Are…

This information about A Calling for Charlie Barnes was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Joshua Ferris Author Biography

Photo: Kelly Campbell

Joshua Ferris is the author of three previous novels, Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, and a collection of stories, The Dinner Party. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was named one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" writers in 2010. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. He lives in New York.

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Link to Joshua Ferris's Website

Other books by Joshua Ferris at BookBrowse
  • Then We Came to the End jacket
  • The Unnamed jacket

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