• A Disorder Peculiar to the Country

  • A Novel
  • By: Ken Kalfus
  • Narrated by: James Boles
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 03-15-07
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audio Evolution
  • 2.5 out of 5 stars 2.7 (30 ratings)

Regular price: $24.49

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Publisher's Summary

Joyce and Marshall Harriman are in the midst of a contentious divorce, but still sharing a cramped, over-mortgaged Brooklyn apartment with their two children. On the morning of September 11, Joyce departs for Newark to catch a flight to San Francisco, and Marshall, after dropping the kids at daycare, heads for his office in the World Trade Center. She misses her flight and he's late for work, but on that grim day, in a devastated city, among millions seized by fear and grief, each thinks the other is dead, and each is secretly, shamefully, gloriously happy. As their bitter divorce is further complicated by anthrax scares, suicide bombs, foreign wars, and the stock-market collapse, they suffer, in ways unexpectedly personal and increasingly ludicrous, the many strange ravages of our time.
In this astonishing black comedy, Kalfus suggests how our nation's public calamities have encroached upon our most private illusions.
©2006 by Ken Kalfus; (P)2007 Audio Evolution, LLC
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Critic Reviews



2006 National Book Award Finalist
"My inner idealist hopes Kalfus' novel joins the ranks of Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 on the required reading lists." (Philadelphia Magazine)
"Kalfus' new novel [is] like a fever dream of recent events....Through the interbleeding of public and private story lines and his lampooning approach, Kalfus [is] freeing the way we think about September 11....If hyperbole can be weaponized anywhere in literature, it is here." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Michael Jones on 05-31-07

Divorce: 9/11 Style

Kalfus weaves a darkly hilarious tale of a dying marriage set post 9/11 against the backdrop of Ground Zero. I enjoyed the deliberate reading by James Boles, which sometimes added to the author's wry humor. The story of Marshall and Joyce's divorce strives for analogy, to depict a microcosm of the paranoid, intolerant, inept, and violent new order of the reawoken world. In many ways it succeeds, and in one scene in which a loosey-goosey house party morphs into an eerily creepy parody evocative of the terrible high jinks uncovered at Abu Graib Prison, it is jarringly affective. I recommend this audio book to any fans of say George Saunders, T. C. Boyle, et. al., who enjoy a hearty laugh at the expense of some serious material.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By John on 11-14-07

stunning surprise

This is a stunning book. I purchased it on the blurb alone, knowing virtually nothing about the author. It is a very poignant, messy tale of a couple in disarray, in the middle of a great divorce, and a country that is about to be torn apart by terrorism. The manner in which the author melds these two themes and makes us care for his characters, who sometimes do despicable things, is nothing short of brilliant.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Debra on 05-17-11

Great start but straight off the boil

I like black comedy so this sounded up my street. And a great start - yep, looking good. But then it was just hours of utterly disjointed blathering - more like unconnected short stories than a novel. We get massive, forensic detail about a very short period then skip forward months as if they were all the same time span. Long sections about Joyce, barely registering Marshall then whack - flip round; all about Marshall and Joyce barely exists. Nothing came of the great potential of the talc / FBI; why bother to nick the hoopa if there was no consequence?; what a long and vulgar, and frankly depressing narrative of the party with Miss Naomi... I could go on but life's too short. But this book is not a good yarn, totally unstructured and... well, just not engaging. Next....

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