Summary and book reviews of This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen

This Is How It Really Sounds

by Stuart Archer Cohen

This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2016, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Book Summary

Part satire, part revenge tale, part wilderness adventure - with a heavy dash of noire espionage - This Is How It Really Sounds explores the seductive power of the Other Life, and what happens when you finally grasp it...

Ranging from the wicked noir Shanghai of 1946, to the echo chambers of Hollywood, to remote, snow-covered mountains, Stuart Archer Cohen's This Is How it Really Sounds follows three men, each in search of a different life. Small-town Alaskan "Harry" Harrington is a legend in a small circle, once the world's greatest extreme skier, racing avalanches and knocking back flips off of cliffs. Peter Harrington is a world-famous financier, hated across the globe for making hundreds of millions of dollars on his hedge fund, and fleeing New York to begin a new venture in Shanghai. Finally, there is Pete Harrington, a middle-aged rock star, now touring third-tier venues and fleeing bankruptcy, but hoping that one great new song can rescue him. All are seeking something that has slipped away - youth, power, purpose, magic; all ar

Mingling wickedly-funny satire with heart-stopping adventure, This is How it Really Sounds explores the seductive power of the unlived life, and what happens when you finally grasp it.

1
The House at Wilksbury

The bus had broken down somewhere outside Wilksbury, Pennsylvania, after a gig in Cleveland. Pete Harrington remembered that because, when he was a teenager, his grandfather had told him that as a young man drifting through Wilksbury he'd met the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, and that if he'd had half a chance to win her, he would have stayed on there the rest of his life. That was 1932, and a pretty girl didn't have much interest in a twenty-year-old hobo offering to do chores for food. Pete never understood why the old man was still telling the story fifty years later: he thought maybe Gramps had run out of things to talk about. Then, between a gig in Cleveland and another in Philadelphia, he'd been drifting off to sleep when he saw a green highway sign for Wilksbury, and he remembered his grandfather and the girl. The next thing he knew he woke up and the bus was silent and stationary. Everyone else in the band was ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cohen also expertly uses recurring motifs — a warm, welcoming home and even a magazine advertisement — to unite his stories and transport readers seamlessly from one character to the other. By setting such everyday motifs in different lives and different situations, (the magazine ad, for example, shows up both in Shanghai and Alaska), the reader is left to connect the dots — to imagine not just the novel’s three central characters but to adopt a wide-angle perspective and marvel at the many seemingly banal facets that make up each special life. The way that Cohen so fluidly places this responsibility on the reader’s shoulder is his biggest strength and the novel’s most soulful note.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review (593 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This is an ambitious puzzle that ends up with a few too many pieces out of place.

Booklist

It's a hugely entertaining story, mainstream commercial fiction, straddling the thin line between comedy and drama.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. An impressive and dramatic novel about three men who share a surname and intertwining fortunes… Anyone who's bet his or her future on Wall Street, strapped on a pair of skis or savored a well-told story will want to read this one.

Author Blurb Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers
Stuart Archer Cohen has written a timely and provocative story about money, cultural power, and identity in the digital age.

Author Blurb Nicole Mones, author of Night in Shanghai and The Last Chinese Chef
Addictive, highly original, and deeply satisfying.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Extreme Skiing

In This Is How It Really Sounds, one of the Pete Harringtons is an extreme skier – a sport, he complains, not many people find appealing or artistic because, unlike regular downhill skiing, it does not have as much cachet with the general public.

Shane McConkeyThe strict definition of extreme skiing is taking on very steep cliffs, with the skier making moves as he or she goes along. The cliffs must be at least at a 45-degree angle to qualify. Extreme skiers are judged, not just in terms of the challenges they take on, but also their beauty and grace while in the air. This is especially true when extreme skiers punctuate their drops with aerial calisthenics also called ski jumping.

Extreme skiing comes in many versions: heli skiing is where the...

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