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Once in a great while, an author creates a protagonist so memorable that the character takes his place in the American mind—from Rabbit Angstrom to T.S Garp to Frank Bascombe. To this great lineage of larger-than-life American heroes, Algonquin introduces the next one we’ll all be talking about for years to come: David “Lizard” Hochmeyer. And I don’t just mean larger than life in size, although Lizard stands nearly seven feet tall. No, this is the sort of character whose life is so absorbing, so readable, and whose essential nature is so flawed and lovable at the same time that he won my heart immediately and soon thereafter, the hearts of everyone else in house. Life Among Giants is a colorful and exuberant novel that captures the reader with both the grand sweep of Lizard’s life and with his utter largeness of spirit.
We follow young Lizard as he loses his parents in a mysterious murder, and then through the years as he attempts to make sense of his world and his past, as it continues to haunt him and dictate his life. And what a varied and giant life it is, from high-school anti-hero to Miami Dolphins quarterback, from confidant of a world famous ballerina to owner and chef at a high-end restaurant—while always he mulls on how to avenge his parents’ death and on whom to wreak his revenge.
For years, Bill Roorbach has been winning the affection of the media—he’s been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Granta, New York magazine, and his story “Big Bend” was not only a O’Henry prize winner, but was read on NPR’s prestigious Selected Shorts. Now he’s written the breakout book that will make him—and Lizard—known to everyone else.
Sometimes as an editor, I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do. Having the opportunity to publish Bill Roorbach’s novel, after I’d followed and admired his work for so many years, was one of those very lucky moments.
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