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LOST reviews & description

   

 

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Below is the complete text of the review for Lost that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 8, 2001:

There are a million laughs in the big city, as a sharp-eyed writer shows

Lost
By Scott Stein
Free Reign Press. 207 pp. $22.95

Reviewed by Robin Henry

Who’s the man with the bushy mustache?

That’s what Jeremy Keller wants to know.

The reader wants to find out, too. But there’s more to Scott Stein’s Lost than revealing the identity of the mystery man following Jeremy.

The plot is nearly overshadowed by the wonderfully comic way Stein, who grew up in Queens and now lives outside Philadelphia, depicts urban living and modern culture.

Jeremy Keller knows his life has a purpose. So what if he’s been working in a toy company mailroom for seven years and has nothing to show for it but a collection of 2,918 rubber bands? And so what if he’s in love with a woman who barely knows he is alive?

He’s being followed. That happens only to people who are special. And Jeremy believes he’s special. He’s just been waiting for fate to step in and give him a sign.

It could be the man with the bushy mustache. Or it could be a mystery package that suddenly disappears. Either way, Jeremy knows something big is about to happen.

And so the novel begins. The mystery man and the mystery package set off a chain of incidents and misunderstandings reminiscent of 30-minute prime-time TV.

Just like the man with the bushy mustache, the reader gets to follow Jeremy in and around New York, from the top of the Empire State building to the depths of the subway, as he tries to find a coworker he thinks may have died, tries to woo the girl of his dreams, and is forced to wait for his destiny and the man with the bushy mustache to reveal themselves.

Stein has a keen eye for the details of our cultural landscape. And he sprinkles his scenes with deadpan one-liners and cultural reference points. Theme restaurants, bomb scares, video games, voice mail and even flesh-eating viruses are stitched into amusing sitcom-style situations.

In one instance, Jeremy is taken to the hospital after having an allergic reaction to strawberries. When he is ready to be discharged, he learns his clothes have been destroyed as a precaution. He could have had an Ebola-style virus.

A nurse suggests that Jeremy “borrow” the jumpsuit of an off-duty and a bit off-kilter janitor to get home. But Jeremy quickly rejects the nurse’s plan:

“This isn’t a sitcom you know. This is my life. I’m not going to get caught up in wacky misadventures posing as a janitor and hiding from a screwdriver-wielding maniac just to please you this isn’t Three’s Company.”

Yet Jeremy’s daily life is a set of wacky misadventures. He gets clobbered by bureaucracy and basic technology and even has a few brushes with the law, all with great comic effect.

Then there’s the girl of his dreams. She works at a specialty shop that sells only strawberry products the very food he is allergic to. He doesn’t have the courage to ask her out, so he goes to the shop every day and orders a basket of strawberries just to see her.

Instead of throwing the berries away when he gets outside, he offers them to people on the street or at least tries to.

One woman demands that he taste the fruit first and requires him to sign a note and show his driver’s license before she’ll take a piece: “How did she know he wasn’t some psycho handing out poisoned strawberries for kicks? She wouldn’t fall for his ploy, refused to be the headline of tomorrow’s New York Post: STRAWBURIED!”

Is Jeremy naive in a savvy city? Maybe so. Throughout the book his well-intentioned acts are turned upside down by others’ fear and cynicism. But Stein takes care to keep the novel light. Even workplace violence or the perceived threat of it makes a great punch line.

So who’s the man with the bushy mustache? The question does get answered. And true to form, the answer has a comic twist. But it isn’t the revelation of Jeremy’s destiny that makes Lost a page-turner. It’s Stein’s insightful tweaking of city living and modern times.

Robin Henry is an Inquirer staff writer.

end of Philadelphia Inquirer review

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Below is the review of Lost when it was a Daily Pick on BookSense.com:

New York City at the end of the 20th century, and Jeremy, the protagonist of this witty, deadpan debut novel, is being followed, though he doesnt mind. He is, after all, destined for great things, in which case, being followed is to be expected. And yes, he doesnt know why he is being followed. And his job is nothing to brag about either. And a certain police detective has it in for him. And the love of his life doesnt know he exists. And he thinks hes responsible for the death of an innocent man. And his rent is late. And he lost the mysterious envelope that just might have the answers hes looking for. And New York cant seem to leave him in peace. But at least he is being followed. Not everyone can say that. And so with hilarious and winning effect, Stein captures an ordinary guys life as it descends into an existential car chase through the twisty turns of New York City getting lost has never been so enjoyable.

end of BookSense.com review

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Below is an advance praise blurb for Lost, from Lester Goran, author of the New York Times Notable Book Tales from the Irish Club and numerous other books:

“In the seemingly impossible, Scott Stein has brought to the urban comic novel fresh perspectives and variations on the by now venerable form of the wandering naif in the big city, pursued by the antic perils that constitute life where skyscrapers block the sun. Jeremy, Stein’s picaresque hero, wanders the streets, subways, and office buildings of New York in pursuit of his dreams of glory and at every turn finds himself not the searcher but somebody’s victim. It is American conspiracy theory run riot in hilarious premises that no sitcom can match. This is a funny man, and Lost is a funny book, turning sacred cows upside down, sometimes more than one to a page, explosive, insightful, and with language that’s sharp and crackles like the twists of Stein’s plot. It’s a furious and often dead serious romp until the very last page.”

end of Lester Goran blurb

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Valerie Block, author of Was It Something I Said? and None of Your Business, wrote this advance praise blurb for Lost:

“With a lightness of touch, Scott Stein takes on the inanities, barbarities, and pretensions of modern urban life in this winning first novel. Lost is what happens to an ordinary guy when an ordinary day turns into an existential car chase through the subways of New York City. The book is packed with hilarious, deadpan descriptions of brushes with bureaucracy, technology, insanity. Stein’s keen appreciation for the absurd (talking car alarms, vertical food, specialty retail outlets selling strawberry-related products only) makes this novel fun. Get Lost.”

end of Valerie Block blurb

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In a review of Lost, the Queens Courier said:

“This urban comic novel is an entertaining view of a lost soul in the big city ... it’s a furious romp well worth reading.”

end of Queens Courier review excerpt

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In a listing of a bookstore reading of Lost, the Bucks County Courier Times said:

“A humorous look at the human condition as it exists in today’s cities.”

end of Bucks County Courier Times mention

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Washington Square News, the student newspaper of New York University, said this about Lost:

His descriptions of [Washington Square Park] are exquisitely accurate, from performers showcasing unusual talents to not-so-furtive marijuana dealers.

end of Washington Square News review excerpt

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Below is an excerpt from the review of Lost that appeared in Drexel Universitys student newspaper, the Triangle:

... never fails to elicit a grin ... Emphasis should be placed on the entertainment value of the novel ... most certainly a worthwhile read.

end of Triangle review excerpt

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Plot summary from inside dust jacket flap:

“It was the truth and there was no denying it. Jeremy Keller was being followed. At first he didn’t quite believe it. Who gets followed in real life?”

Welcome to Jeremy’s world: New York City at the end of the 20th century. Yes, Jeremy is being followed, but he doesn’t mind. He is, after all, destined for great things. A little being followed is to be expected.

And yes, he doesn’t know why he is being followed. And his job is nothing to brag about either. And a certain police detective has it in for him. And the love of his life doesn’t know he exists. And he thinks he’s responsible for the death of an innocent man. And his rent is late. And he lost the mysterious envelope that just might have the answers he’s looking for. And New York can’t seem to leave him in peace.

But at least he is being followed. Not everyone can say that. But then, not everyone is destined for great things.

end of inside flap text—

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About the author

Read Scott Steins bio on his home page.

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