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Extended Audio Sample Model Home: A Novel Audiobook, by Eric Puchner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,129 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Eric Puchner Narrator: David Colacci Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781400186525
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Warren Ziller moved his family to California in search of a charmed life, and to all appearances, he found it: a gated community not far from the beach, amid the affluent splendor of Southern California in the 1980s. But his American dream has been rudely interrupted. Despite their affection for one another—the “slow, jokey, unrehearsed vaudeville” they share at home—Warren; his wife, Camille; and their three children have veered into separate lives as distant as satellites. Worst of all, Warren has squandered the family’s money on a failing real estate venture.

As Warren desperately tries to conceal his mistake, his family begins to sow deceptions of their own. Camille attributes Warren’s erratic behavior to an affair and plots her secret revenge; seventeen-year-old Dustin falls for his girlfriend’s troubled younger sister; teen misanthrope Lyle begins sleeping with a security guard who works at the gatehouse; and eleven-year-old Jonas becomes strangely obsessed with a kidnapped girl.

When tragedy strikes, the Zillers are forced to move into one of the houses in Warren’s abandoned development in the middle of the desert. Marooned in a less-than-model home, each must reckon with what has led them there and who is to blame—and whether they can summon the forgiveness needed to hold the family together.

Subtly ambitious, brimming with the humor and unpredictability of life, Model Home delivers penetrating insights into the American family and into the imperfect ways we try to connect.

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elise | 2/18/2014

    " The writing was good, but this book was just too depressing and riddled with filth for my taste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie Brody | 2/17/2014

    " 'Model Home' by Eric Puchner is a novel that takes place during an eighteen-month period between 1985 and 1986 in the Los Angeles area. It is the story of a family that is trying very hard not to fall apart at the seams. Warren, the dad, is a realtor who has invested all of his family's savings in a housing development that sits far out in the desert right next to a toxic dump site. His investment has gone belly-up. At first, when his car is repossessed, he tells his family that it was stolen. When the creditors come for his living room furniture, he tells his family that he is tired of leasing furniture and that he has ordered much nicer stuff that will arrive next month. Naturally, Warren is acting strangely. His wife, Camille, who works on developing videos for school sex education programs, thinks that Warren is having an affair. When the truth of their bankruptcy comes out, Camille is relieved that Warren's strangeness is not due to an affair, and for a brief time Warren and Camille find themselves content with one another. There are three children in the family. Dustin, the oldest, is a good looking teenager with a beautiful girlfriend, who likes to surf and is planning on going to UCLA next year. Gradually, he starts to fall for Taz, his girlfriend's Goth sister who has scabs on her ears from picking at them and has pulled her own fingernails out. Lyle is the middle child, a girl who feels different and left out of the mainstream. She lives in L.A. and desperately wants a tan but all she can do is burn. She designs t-shirts with monograms like 'Death to Sandwiches' or 'Like a Sturgeon'. She begins having an affair with Hector, the Mexican security guard at their housing complex. Jonas, 11 years old, is the youngest. He is obsessed with death and is focusing specifically on the murder of a 'retarded' girl in their neighborhood. On some days Jonas likes to dress all in orange, including his socks. The family has been living in a plush housing development way beyond their means. Warren had thought he'd strike it rich with his real estate scheme and that nothing was too good for them. They soon have to leave their cush domain and move into one of Warren's model homes in the desert - in that very same complex next to the toxic dump site. Naturally, they are the only family living there as no other homes have been sold. Camille now has a three hour round-trip commute for her job and Lyle is living with a friend because it is too far to commute to school. There is no money left to send Dustin to college since they're broke so he keeps himself busy with his garage band. Jonas is like the lost child. As the children are growing up, they are pulling away from their parents. Everyone in this novel is wanting to be something more, something better, or something different than who they are. Their ambitions often lead to tragic outcomes. This family has more than one 'before' and 'after' to face. As they face catastrophes, the reader watches as the thin fiber that has been holding this family together unravels. Despite the unraveling, the novel asks poignant questions about the nature of family and love. Can family members love one another despite the most severe pain, anger, and resentment. Are they still whole once they are damaged? What is the source of love and strength that inspires families to hold on? Part of the plot deals with a character who gets severely burned. The author speaks with great knowledge about burn units, burn treatment and burn victims. The descriptions are graphic and remind me of scenes in The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. Puchner manages to conjure up the smells, agony, and sounds of a burn unit and the reader is pulled along into this traumatic event. The writing in this book can be uneven. Sometimes it is so beautiful that it can take your breath away, especially towards the end. However, there are times when it tries to be too clever for its own good. Phrases and sentences seem to be slipped in just because they sound good. Overall, it is a rewarding novel to read. The author ties all his ends together and there are no red herrings among the characters. I appreciate that in a novel. Every character is developed and has his or her place. Each character is unique with their own set of idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Puchner is a writer to watch and I look forward to new publications from him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 2/14/2014

    " LOL funny, and yet disturbing and sad. Loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vickie | 2/13/2014

    " I love the deeply dark humor and laughed so hard and some things I cried, but what I love most is the story of the less the perfect family and somehow against all odds they make it. Like Little Miss Sunshine and All We Ever Wanted Was Everything...once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 2/10/2014

    " The story was somewhat interesting about a famliy going through lifes downfalls. I think this book was a mood buster about depressed people and their lives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 2/4/2014

    " Eric Puchner wrote one of my all time favorite short stories so I was pretty sure I would enjoy his novel and it did not let me down. He writes with the perfect mix of funny and sad and even though he doesn't have fantasy elements in his writing (at least not yet) his characters behave in such crazy ways so his stories have the unexpected element that I love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Editrix (Amy Lewis) | 2/3/2014

    " Evoked Jonathan Franzen and David Gates at times, particularly the black humor (which I'm a sucker for). Along with Wells Tower, this guy is one of my favorite discoveries of the past six months. Looking forward to what he has up his sleeve next. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 1/26/2014

    " There are many books written about the American Dream -- Cheever, Perrotta, and Updike come to mind -- but rarely has a debut author tackled the subject so convincingly and with such originality. Each chapter could be its own short story. This is a writer with promise! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy Johnson | 1/18/2014

    " a different read into someone's downward spiral and their try to climb out "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison Newton | 1/17/2014

    " depressing and tragic...but not in a romeo and juliet kind of way....more like a fight club without all of the violence and abs kind of way...but i happen to enjoy that sort of thing.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa McCullough | 1/14/2014

    " Puchner is an excellent writer. Quirky little book, but the author's insight into all the characters is great. Several passages really hung with me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darielle | 11/19/2013

    " This book was interesting. I hadn't realized when I picked it up that it was marketed as a book written by a man for a man. It reminded me of the movie American Beauty and made me depressed. Overall, it was an ok read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessica | 11/16/2013

    " Very well written but soooo tragic. You feel for the family but also at times want to shake them. Too many of the relationships have no resolution which made it hard for me to really like this book in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna Cate | 8/23/2013

    " The second half of this book just got really good. I didn't see it coming. I love that. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ree Donnelly | 6/14/2013

    " I'm liking it so far... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick Duncan | 4/6/2013

    " Exquisitely depressing, if such a thing exists. In my opinion, obviously, it does. At times it became hard to read, the litany of disaster assailing this one family, but it made the tentative redemption reached at the end that much more appreciated. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Atty | 12/4/2012

    " Written well. Quick chapters from different points of view kept it moving, but ultimately a lot of people who I just couldn't care about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicky | 10/18/2012

    " Really good contemporary American fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 7/6/2012

    " My favorite new-found author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather Oler | 6/29/2012

    " easy to read...but hard to love. the overall tone is very dark and doesn't get much brigther. Language is a little strong throughout. Made me appreciate my "good kids" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Troy | 3/15/2012

    " Absolutely outstanding novel...I read four times as much non-fiction as I do fiction, so I'm only compelled to even complete a work of fiction if it's clearly an exemplary work. Model Home was a fantastic read, done I'n literally one sitting over night...highly recommended! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Acuna | 10/20/2011

    " Quirky, funny, poignant family novel set in California in the 1980's....but it could just have been set in 2010. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zoë Ferraris | 10/10/2011

    " Fantastic book! These characters really got under my skin and I admire his handling of pretty much everything. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ric | 5/6/2011

    " Very strange but very effective in depicting a dysfunction '80's family. Can be depressing at times but ultimately well worth the effort, especially if you like your humor satirical, dry and somewhat black. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 4/24/2011

    " Funny and heartbreaking-- I did actually laugh out loud as well as cried. This is one of the more memorable books of modern fiction I've read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 4/21/2011

    " Beach read...in fact, I read in Las Vegas by the pool!
    Teen angst, mid-life crisis, marriage woes, double tragedy. This one has it all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsay | 3/29/2011

    " very very good! an interesting read about this disfunctional family. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meadow | 3/28/2011

    " I have seen this book all over. It seems like the entire blogosphere is reading it. For good reason, it is pretty danged good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chrissy | 3/18/2011

    " Empire Falls meets Weeds meets United States of Tara meets Burn Journals...all in one glorious novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alloyd48 | 3/12/2011

    " Another book in the tournament. Got better as it went along. I ended up liking it but it is sort of a run of the mill novel really. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roxanne | 3/9/2011

    " I listened to the audio book. It is a perfect book for this purpose. Listen while hand stitching. "

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About the Author

Eric Puchner teaches at Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner fellow. His award-winning short stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Chicago Tribune, Best New American Voices 2005, Pushcart Prize XVIII, and many more acclaimed journals and anthologies. His short story collection, Music Through the Floor, earned him a Pushcart Prize and a Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Puchner lives in San Francisco with his wife, novelist Katharine Noel.

About the Narrator

David Colacci is an actor and director who has directed and performed in prominent theaters nationwide. His credits include roles from Shakespeare to Albee, as well as extensive work on new plays. As a narrator, he has recorded more than one hundred audiobooks, earned eight AudioFile Earphones Awards, and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. His narration of The Suspect was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2007.