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This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes
In This Book Will Save Your Life, Richard Novak is a wealthy day trader who hasn't left his Los Angeles mansion in a month. He suffers a bout of debilitating chest pain which he thinks is a heart attack. He's treated by a fake "psychological internist" who tells him he's dead, and to recover, he must live life. On his way home, Novak stops at a doughnut shop, where he meets its proprietor, Anhil, a comical character prone to malapropisms. Novak meets a movie star trying to select a name, trying to choose one already used, preferably by somebody dead. Then there's the mother who has abandoned her children. Some of the people he meets on his pilgrimage to find life are inspirational, some are cautionary, and all of them cause him to finally address his circumstances and his past to understand how he lost his life. A. M. Homes' novel has received mixed reviews with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying, "But there is a difference between sentimentality and optimism, between schmaltz and openness to the possibility of happiness. Homes carefully avoids the pitfalls and delivers an elegantly crafted story, whose allegorical significance enriches its narrative power."