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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

From the Booker-shortlisted author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour comes a novel about fathers, sons, thwarted dreams and confronting the reality of who we really are

Charlie Barnes is a mid-century man devoted to his newspaper and his landline. But Charlie is about to get dragged into our troubled age by his storyteller son, who has a different idea of him than he has of himself. Then there are his other children, his ex-wives, present wife, business clients, friends and acquaintances, all of whom have their competing opinions of Charlie.

He certainly seems simple enough: he's a striver, a romantic and a thoroughgoing capitalist. But suddenly blindsided by the Great Recession and a dose of bad news, he might have to rethink his life from top to bottom, and on short notice. What makes a man real? What makes him good? And how does the story we tell about ourselves line up with the lives that we actually live?

©2021 Joshua Ferris (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Funny, moving, and formally a work of genius, A Calling for Charlie Barnes is quite literally the book Joshua Ferris was born to write" (Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire)

"Dazzling. Mind-blowing. About as much fun as you can have without risking arrest." (Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls)

"Wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant.... A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities." (Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia

What listeners say about A Calling for Charlie Barnes

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  • Paul
  • 01-30-22

Steady as she goes

This was better than steady, we really enjoyed the authors style. He made even the mundane parts of Charlie's life funny.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy B
  • 01-09-22

The madness of ordinary family life

An enjoyable slalom down the steep slopes of everyday family dysfunction with its own intricate network of myth, fact and contested interpretation. Well read though perhaps a little less of the slightly mannered languorous delivery would have been more to my liking. That said, the reader captures the various character nuances very skill fully. The structure of the narrative is also unusual especially in the later stages. A good tale well told.