Want Not by Jonathan Miles

Want Not

A compulsively readable, deeply human novel that examines our most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.  With his critically acclaimed first novel Dear American Airlines, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius “after something bigger” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) whose fiction was “not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding” (Richard Russo, New York Times Book Review, front cover). Now, in his much anticipated se...

Details Want Not

TitleWant Not
Release DateNov 5th, 2013
PublisherMariner Books
GenreFiction, Humor, Abandoned, Contemporary

Reviews Want Not

  • Mary
    I’ve made two major moves in my life. From Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles, CA and then a few weeks ago from LA to Birmingham, AL. Both times I preached to anyone who would listen “At least I don’t have much stuff.” It turns out that not only was I full of shit, but I also had a lot of shit. What I thought was my somewhat minimalist existence was, both times, an embarrassing display of consumerism. Yes, I really do have this many pair...
  • Greg Zimmerman
    (Review first appeared at http://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.co...)I really, really loved this book. I mean, REALLY loved it. This is the one novel I've read this year that when I finished, my first reaction was to run out to the street corner to start preaching it. It's that good.Why is it so good? Because it's exactly what fiction should be — it's clever, funny, totally engrossing, sobering, and dammit, if it doesn't give you a good attack of...
  • Ron Charles
    Hundreds of years before Lunchables, bottled water and disposable razors, a proverb warned us, “Wilful waste makes woeful want,” which we’ve since trimmed to the even more thrifty phrase “Waste not, want not.” And yet we’re still throwing out 40 percent of our food and producing more than four pounds of garbage per person per day, raising great putrid effigies of each of us on the horizon.Perhaps the only thing more shocking than all ...
  • Rebecca
    Here’s a book I wish I had written. “Waste not, want not” goes the aphorism, and Miles’s second novel explores both themes to their fullest extent: the concept of waste – from profligate living to garbage and excrement – and ordinary people’s conflicting desires. In three interlocking story lines, Miles looks for what is really of human value at a time when everything seems disposable and possessions both material and digital can ex...
  • Hank Stuever
    A sturdy and compellingly sad/funny novel about a few very different people and the garbage/waste they create, physically and metaphorically. I enjoyed it quite a bit -- almost as much as I liked Miles's "Dear American Airlines"; it has elements of both Lorrie Moore (it especially reminded me of "A Gate at the Stairs" in the way it shoehorned in all of the author/narrator's editorial concerns about the costs of modernity and the rat race into the...
  • Josh
    ”Garbage was the only pure crop that civilization produced because no one owned it, no one wanted it, no one fought over it, no one had ever launched a war to claim it.  Land, air, water, people, animals: all these had been commodified, sacked with price tags, and enslaved on that vast plantation known as civilization.”What we consume eventually becomes trash. Trash everywhere. Trash in the oceans. Trash underground. Trash inside us all....
  • Cosimo
    Invisibili persistenze“Le volpi hanno le loro tane e gli uccelli del cielo i loro nidi, ma il Figlio dell'uomo non ha dove posare il capo”. Matteo, 8, 20 e Luca, 9,58Manhattan, storie di amicizia, amore e famiglia tra rifiuti e scorie, legami dialogici tra consumismo e nuova etica, un romanzo corale con trame e sottotrame narrate con chiarezza e partecipazione, per un racconto di buona qualità e notevole originalità. Una scrittura interessa...
  • Shannon
    The majority of Jonathan Miles’ second novel, Want Not, is told in three separate stories – a freegan couple dealing with welcoming a third person into their squat; a washed up linguist, attempting to juggle a separation from his wife with his father’s worsening Alzheimer’s disease; and a blended family, made up of a 9/11 widow, the man she married for security and her angst-filled teenage daughter. Natural desire eventually pushes these ...
  • Judith
    This book was highly recommended by my good friend Phyllis and I thank her for thinking of me. If you ever wake up at 4:00 a.m. and think about the plastic trash in the ocean that is reputed to cover a space the size of Texas, this book is for you. The book follows the (seemingly) unrelated stories of 3 groups of people: one a linguist who has been asked to help design a sign that would warn future earthlings of the dangers of a burial ground of ...
  • Mircalla64
    ScorieIn questo libro si parla di resti. Spazzatura che tracima attraverso il racconto di molte vite, vite intrecciate o vissute in parallelo, vite piene di alimenti scaduti, vestiti, mobili, bambini, mariti, nonni...tutta roba che viene lasciata indietro...il significante è rimandato alla buona volontà di chi legge...c'è molta critica sociale e un bel po' di dolore...poca speranza e pochissima soddisfazione, ma c'è verità in tutto questo ra...
  • Sheri
    Miles does a great job of presenting the same thesis through three very different worlds. As always happens in these sorts of stories, eventually the three worlds collide in a somewhat unnecessary fashion to provide closure. I agree with Miles’s politics and I enjoyed the MANY examples of “over wanting” that he presented. At times, I thought it might be a bit repetitive and preachy, but in general it was a decent read.Miles manages to nestl...
  • Patrizia Galli
    Il romanzo narra tre storie, tutte accomunate dai detriti, reali o metaforici, che riempiono le vite dei protagonisti. Talmadge e Micah vivono come squat, cibandosi degli avanzi che trovano nei bidoni dell’immondizia; Elwin è un linguista di mezza età abbandonato dalla moglie, che deve affrontare la malattia del padre; Sara è una vedova dell’11 Settembre, che deve affrontare, oltre alla scoperta del tradimento da parte dell’ex marito, un...
  • Lisa
    I was surprised by how much I liked Want Not. Three "sets" of people are loosely linked by a theme of trash, discards, waste, extra stuff - depending on the person. I didn't like most of the characters in the beginning, but gradually they all grew on me. At times, the writing blew me away.
  • K
    As I read this I kept thinking of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft where Stephen King warns idealistic authors not to focus on themes in their fiction. Just write a good story, he says, and the themes will evolve. I wondered whether Jonathan Miles followed this advice. Certainly the novel didn't suffer for this, but the themes were prominent and it's hard to imagine he didn't work from theme --> story as opposed to the other way around.The aptly...
  • Mike
    This book was amiable enough until it reached a scene at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks are playing the Indians, all well and good, except all the Yankees the author writes about are real and the only Indians player is made up. I could live with that because the scene created around the fake Indians player is funny and couldn't happen with any real Indians player. My real problem was that the real Yankees players in the scene -- Derek Jeter, Johnny Da...
  • Jason Makansi
    I had very high hopes for Want Not, so high I was hoping Mr. Miles would become another member of the pantheon of highly regarded Jonathan-named authors (Jonathan Lethem, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer). Miles' novel is about New York (always pulls me in), the waste and excesses of modern society (I live with this professionally), and alternative lifestyles (e.g., Freegans). Mr. Miles also has the second most sought after pedigree in lite...
  • Jeff Buddle
    "Want Not," is half of a well-known aphorism. But as the title of Jonathan Miles's new novel it has another layer of meaning that shades the darkest thread of this fine work. To tap into another aphorism, an alternate name for the novel might be "Another Man's Treasure." Or perhaps more appropriately for at least two characters in the book, "Another Woman's..."Miles populates his fictional world with a cast of disparate characters: an obese profe...
  • Scott
    I liked Jonathan Miles's slight-but-incisive 2008 novel, Dear American Airlines, quite a bit, and the basic theme of Want Not--material (over)consumption, and how it doesn't make anyone happy and produces terrible amounts of waste--is something I think about all the time. I was predisposed, then, to enjoy this book, and I did. Miles is a terrific writer, especially adept at the quick character sketch, the provocative/evocative image, the rollicki...
  • Jax
    I’ve been working to declutter my house for the last six years, ever since the death of a loved one made me see the burden we leave behind for others to deal with. It’s been a painful process, examining one's feelings about each item and deciding what to keep, for practical or sentimental reasons, and what to get rid of. And it’s definitely easier to trash than donate, but I just can’t send useful things to a landfill. It’s a big job af...
  • Chaitra
    It's a book that gave me a lot of trouble. I would pick it up, inch forward in terms of pages even though I'd be reading for hours, set it back down and forget about it for a number of days. But ultimately, I ended up loving it. So much that I'm not even docking a star for the initial drag-a-thon. There are three different stories, intersecting very little, if at all. A freegan couple, Micah and Talmadge, experiencing change in their relationship...
  • Tracy
    If this isn't on your "Best Novels of 2013" list, your "Best Novels of 2013" list is defective. This book was exactly what I wanted to read right now, in part because of my growing distaste for the rampant materialism of American culture. It's a book about stuff -- what we have and what we want and what we throw away and how one person's trash is another person's dinner. And it's amazing. It's truly a character-driven novel, and the awesome thing...
  • Elalma
    Tre storie che si intrecciano intorno al tema degli scarti, che possono essere intesi come spazzatura, cose accumulate o scorie da smaltire. L'idea è molto buona, mi piace anche come è sviluppata e come segue il filo conduttore. Però ne avrei eliminato volentieri almeno la metà; lo stile, che ricorda molto quello di Dave Eggers, ironico e a volte ridondante, in alcuni punti mi ha irritato. Tuttavia mi tornano in mente con piacere i personaggi...
  • Katie
    This book had me at dumpster-diving freegans in NYC.Besides the so-righteous-you-love-to-hate-them freegans, there are several other subplots in this well-written novel about people and their foibles: an obese linguist, on a task force to create a nuclear waste dump warning sign for future civilizations, deals with his separation from his wife by purging all his possessions with the help of his newly-acquired twentysomething loser roommate; a rig...
  • Magdelanye
    We've been conditioned not to care. We've been taught to dispose. p7A thoroughly entertaining novel about zero waste? JM has pulled it off in this surprisingly painless skewering of the good life.The status quo isn't sustainable. Nonsystematic change doesn't help when it's the system that's the problem. p74This is our condition, We do not solve problems. We replace them with other problems. p187How much easier it would be if... people were merely...
  • Sharyn Pachnek
    Halfway through and really cannot force myself to finish this book. There is not a single character whom I can care about. Every character in the book is miserable. I don’t mean just miserable by my standards; they are all miserable within their own.This author conjures up so many revolting visual images that I can only hope will eventually be flushed out of my memory...and truly with no redeeming reason or value behind it.If you want to wallow...
  • S.W. Hubbard
    This is a novel of ideas which nevertheless has plenty of compelling characters and some witty writing. It is told from the alternating points of view of three unrelated family groups: a young "freegan" couple squatting in an abandoned NYC building and getting all they need to survive by Dumpster diving; a discontented suburban upper-middle class family whose patriarch makes money by collecting debts from irresponsible spenders; and a fat linguis...
  • M
    Astoundingly brilliant, this novel takes a sharply satirical and remarkably perceptive look at a seemingly disconnected group of people, connected mostly through the theme of waste and recycling. We being with Micah and Talmadge, two freegans who pride themselves on living off the waste of others, dumpster diving for food and squatting in an abandoned apartment building. When Talmadge's skeptical friend Matty joins them, however, his perspective ...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    There's a reason this book has gleaned such high ratings -- it's compulsively readable and delivers a message. This is one of those books that makes a reader glad they love to read. Three seemingly disparate storylines only have the Metropolitan Area in common, but when convergence comes, it is no real surprise. The unifying theme is consumerism, the accumulation and disposal of STUFF. One thread follows a freegan couple as they dumpster-dive for...