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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (308 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brock Clarke Narrator: Michael J. Sullivan, Chris Sorensen Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For young Miller Le Ray, life has become a search: a search for his dad, who may or may not have joined the army and gone to Iraq; a search for a notorious (and, unfortunately, deceased) writer, Frederick Exley, who may hold the key to bringing Miller’s father back; and most of all, a search for truth. For Miller’s therapist, Dr. Pahnee, his patient is an increasingly baffling conundrum, a dedicated truth-teller who hasn’t a clue as to the difference between fact and fiction. Hired by Miller’s very concerned—and extremely attractive—mother, Dr. Pahnee soon finds himself becoming undone, in part by his effort to understand what has really happened to the Le Ray family and in part by his increasing feelings of affection for this woman, who may or may not be a widow.

In Brock Clarke’s smart, spirited novel about the differences between what we believe to be real and what is in fact real, we encounter a world that is both familiar and strangely disorienting, thought-provoking and wildly entertaining.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Clarke has a distinctively winning style. He imagines characters so careful in their reasoning that they are deeply, maddeningly unreasonable but also tenderly hapless at the same time. Mr. Clarke is able to make their isolation both heart-rending and comically absurd.”

    New York Times

  • “It’s the flashes of insight into what it’s like to fiercely love a-far-from-perfect father and his sad-sack hero despite their flaws that will move you.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A book that charms without seeming to try.”

    Austin Chronicle

  • “Remarkable...In the hands of a less talented writer, the novel’s layers, twists, and identity puzzles could strain the belief of even the most credulous reader; but Clarke’s narrative assurance and unfailingly realistic characters allow him to pull off the literary equivalent of a half-court shot. This would have been a hard novel to write even adequately, but Clarke’s performance here is extraordinary; it’s far and away the best work of his career.”


  • “Frederick Exley’s classic 1968 account of his epic alcoholism, A Fan’s Notes, bears the oxymoronic subtitle A Fictional Memoir. It is the space between those words, between real and fabricated memory, that Clarke examines...With humor as black as Exley’s liver, Clarke picks apart the fictions we tell one another—and those we tell ourselves.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Oddly brilliant...The luminously engaging plot reveals the deceptions we cling to in order to survive...Clarke’s breathtaking creativity gives unexpected power to his quirky, touching story.”

    Daily Beast

  • “Clarke expertly evokes other authors who deal with children’s quests in the face of tragedy and mental illness, from J.D. Salinger to Jonathan Safran Foer. In the end, however, the novel comes off as its own original foray into the land of floating realities, and explains why, though so many of us claim to want the truth, in the end we are almost always content to believe in a well-reasoned lie.”

    Time Out New York

  • “Wonderfully mysterious.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Worthwhile listening.”


  • “Another literary high-wire performance by a novelist who is establishing himself as a unique voice in contemporary fiction...A seriously playful novel about the interweave of literature and life.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Clever and tender...Clarke’s take on the cruel toll of the Iraq War is profound.”


  • Selected for the November 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Laura | 2/16/2014

    " Pale Fire-esque. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Victoria Strauss | 2/16/2014

    " I made it all the way through this book, though nearly every time I put it down I resolved not to pick it up again. It's an intriguing narrative by two equally unreliable narrators, but the author's smug writing style and the many only marginally convincing plot contrivances really put me off. In the end, the "so what" factor was just too high, but I'm giving it three stars because "I didn't like it" is not the same as "bad." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Alison | 1/28/2014

    " Unfortunately, the "unreliable narrator" device became so confusing (especially with the addition of a SECOND unreliable narrator) that I started skipping ahead, just to find out what happened. And I still don't know. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Brenda | 1/27/2014

    " I loved this book. Could see elements of all my favorite writers from the late 20th century. Vonnegut, Robbins, Irving and others. The young protagonist is the best character with all of his naivete and little boy flaws. And the therapist...they should all be so compassionate. "

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About the Narrator

Michael J. Sullivan is an award winning, science fiction and fantasy author. After taking the self-publishing world by storm with The Riyria Revelation series, his success led him into mainstream publishing where he was awarded the 2010 Iceberg Ink Review’s Best Fantasy Novel award, among others. He lives in Virginia with his wife and children.