Summary and book reviews of Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes

Heart of Junk

by Luke Geddes

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes X
Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

A hilarious debut novel about an eclectic group of merchants at a Kansas antique mall who become implicated in the kidnapping of a local beauty pageant star.

The city of Wichita, Kansas, is wracked with panic over the abduction of toddler pageant princess Lindy Bobo. However, the dealers at The Heart of America Antique Mall are too preoccupied by their own neurotic compulsions to take much notice. Postcards, perfume bottles, Barbies, vinyl records, kitschy neon beer signs—they collect and sell it all.

Rather than focus on Lindy, this colorful cast of characters is consumed by another drama: the impending arrival of Mark and Grant from the famed antiques television show Pickin' Fortunes, who are planning to film an episode at The Heart of America and secretly may be the last best hope of saving the mall from bankruptcy. Yet the mall and the missing beauty queen have more to do with each other than these vendors might think, and before long, the group sets in motion a series of events that lead to surprising revelations about Lindy's whereabouts. As the mall becomes implicated in her disappearance, will Mark and Grant be scared away from all of the drama or will they arrive in time to save The Heart of America from going under?

Equally comical and suspenseful, Heart of Junk is also a biting commentary on our current Marie Kondo era. It examines why certain objects resonate with us so deeply, rebukes Kondo's philosophy of wholesale purging, and argues that "junk" can have great value—connecting us not only to our personal pasts but to our shared human history. As author Luke Geddes writes: "A collection was a record of a life lived, maybe not well or happily but at least with attention and passion. It was autobiography made whole."

Chapter 1
Margaret

Margaret Byrd watched the two new vendors who had taken her dear friend Patricia's vacated booth (#1-146) lug in their boxes of inventory, thinking: There were antiques and then there were collectibles. She ought to poke her head out from behind her immaculate, organized-by-color shelves of perfume bottles, some of which—on the top row, of course, locked behind thick, bulletproof glass, the storage unit screwed securely to the wall, and, of course of course of course, the entire set insured to its precise value—dated back to the eighteenth century, and introduce herself, welcome the gentlemen to the Heart of America Antique Mall family, perhaps show them to the café and treat them to a package of Nilla wafers and a Pepsi from the vending machines. Yes, she certainly should, and in a little while she would. But for now she only watched, making note of the many collectibles (which consisted of any crafted or manufactured items less than one hundred ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Although a few subplots are wrapped up, many of the characters' fates are left open-ended, and while it's not necessary to always give everyone a happy ending, another chapter or two could've provided a better degree of closure. That being said, there is a general feeling of optimism for the characters who do get proper endings. For those looking for a quick read that explores the concept of one man's trash being another man's treasure, Luke Geddes' debut will hit the spot...continued

Full Review Members Only (680 words).

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Readers who've gasped at a record-bin discovery or elbowed someone out of the way at an estate sale will enjoy this find.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] rambunctious, oddly touching debut...[Geddes] offers even his most misguided characters the opportunity to bumble towards redemption. This one's a quirky treat for fans of flyover state humor.

Booklist (starred review)
Hilarious and poignant, inviting belly laughs and thoughtful, genuinely moving introspection on how what we collect comes to define us.

Author Blurb Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love and Tampa
Luke Geddes is a master of humor. Heart of Junk deftly explores the loneliness of the human condition through a dazzling spectrum of characters. You will laugh 'til you cry, and cry 'til you laugh. This book is an instant cult classic. Meet your new favorite author.

Author Blurb Chris Bachelder, author of National Book Award finalist The Throwback Special
This is a sharp and wicked novel, astute in its exploration of the collector's psyche and the value—both emotional and monetary—of American junk. Luke Geddes puts all of damaged humanity inside a Midwestern antiques mall, and he documents the escalating drama with savage affection.

Author Blurb Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen
Luke Geddes slyly transforms our material obsessions into a very funny and surprising page-turner of a novel. I loved getting to know this nutty group of hapless citizens, made possible by Geddes's shrewd and pitch-perfect writing.

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Beyond the Book

Collecting, Hoarding and Minimalism: America's Obsession with Stuff

Marie KondoHeart of Junk, the debut novel from Luke Geddes, is set in the fictional Heart of America antique mall in Kansas. The vendors in the mall hope to make some money selling off bits of their collections—Barbies, postcards, glassware, furniture and more. Geddes uses each collection to tell the reader something about its owner, as well as to explore the concept of value in our personal belongings.

Over the past decade, American society has had a love/hate relationship with "junk." Collector-based television shows such as American Pickers and Pawn Stars, as well as the long-running Antiques Roadshow, have glamorized the colorful, strange and wondrous collections of people from all walks of life. On the other hand, shows like Hoarders ...

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