• A Calling for Charlie Barnes

  • By: Joshua Ferris
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (424 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
A Calling for Charlie Barnes  By  cover art

A Calling for Charlie Barnes

By: Joshua Ferris
Narrated by: Nick Offerman
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $29.65

Buy for $29.65

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

From National Book Award Finalist Joshua Ferris comes a “murderously funny” novel about a modern American family and one man’s attempt to come to understand the many lives of his father. (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

Someone is telling the story of the life of Charlie Barnes, and it doesn't appear to be going well. Too often divorced, discontent with life's compromises, and in a house he hates, this lifelong schemer and eternal romantic would like out of his present circumstances and into the American dream. But when the twin calamities of the Great Recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, and an infinite past full of forking paths quickly tapers to a black dot.

Then, against all odds, something goes right for a change: Charlie is granted a second act. With help from his storyteller son, he surveys the facts of his life and finds his true calling where he least expects it — in a sacrifice that redounds with selflessness and love — at last becoming the man his son always knew he could be.

The new book by the acclaimed author Joshua Ferris, narrated by the beloved actor Nick Offerman, is a profound and tender portrait of a man whose desperate need to be loved is his downfall, and a brutally funny account of how that love is ultimately earned.

©2021 Joshua Ferris (P)2021 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

"Ferris’s abundant skill has been evident since his debut novel, “Then We Came to the End,” was published in 2007, but here he has taken a huge leap forward, twisting semi-autobiographical material in such serpentine ways that even the author’s note is devious. This is a more tender novel than Ferris’s others, but that doesn’t keep it from being murderously funny from start to finish...Ferris's most daring experiment...Ferris’s prose remains taut and gorgeous, even when bleak. Also give him props for finding precisely the right way to meld memoir with satire, to do this with bracing originality and to keep heads spinning from this novel’s first page to its last. Gamesmanship and love don’t mix easily. But Ferris has found a way to do it, and he’s risen to the top of his game.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times Book Review

"DazzlingThere's no shortage of make-believe in A Calling for Charlie Barnes, Ferris' fifth, and best, book. A Calling for Charlie Barnes wears its metafictional heart on its sleeve, but as smart as it is, Ferris never shows any signs of falling in love with his own cleverness. Literary experiments without warmth tend to fall flat for most readers, but Ferris' novel is—remarkably, given its flawed subject—full of heart...In his previous works, Ferris has proved that he's one of the best American authors of comic fiction working today. His humor is on full display with A Calling for Charlie Barnes, but so are his intelligence and compassion; it's a masterpiece that shines a revealing light on both family and fiction itself.”—Michael Schaub, NPR

"Joshua Ferris is one of our best writers, and A Calling for Charlie Barnes is wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant. Ingeniously written, it had me up reading late into the night. A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities."—Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward

What listeners say about A Calling for Charlie Barnes

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    215
  • 4 Stars
    112
  • 3 Stars
    59
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    17
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    277
  • 4 Stars
    65
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    196
  • 4 Stars
    85
  • 3 Stars
    43
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    19

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

the best book I've read this year

Sometimes you find a gem. A story with so many layers, and so much heart, you have to really put some thought into it before you can share your take. My previous review still holds my truth, however I have more to say. I found myself as absorbed by Jake's journey as I did Charlie’s,  especially as the events played out and truths were elaborated.  I found myself heartbroken when someone was excluded due to reasons beyond their control. I found myself inspired at attempts of peace making, and tolerance,  even when not deserved. I found the rock solid bonds between certain individuals beautiful and honest. A bond many share with No one, yet this man was hand selected to share in this Father’s heart and life, regardless of the consequences.  The amount of uphill battles defy emotional gravity to the point that, at times I wanted to scream profanities. The lack of common decency, the lack of compassion and loyalty,  the complete disregard for another precious human being’s heart and place of belonging wrecked me. Maybe it was because I could relate to the narrator’s tale of an unimaginably tragic yet meaningful youth. Maybe the familiarity to strive to belong, be accepted, share love were just a little too familiar. I’m not sure, but I found the grace with which these incidents were handled remarkable and heartwarming. I’m so glad that the father's love was demonstrated with not only a power that could withstand the test of time, it withstood death and will live on forever in the energy it created. God bless this family. I know much is fiction, unfortunately I fear the parts that aren’t are the parts no child, youth or human being should ever have to endure. This book is a must read for any and all human beings trying to get through the journey of life as unscathed as possible. we all try to experience a place of contentment and belonging. Finding beauty and fulfillment sometimes requires rose-colored glasses..

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible book & Incredible performance by Offerm

I rarely listen to a book a second time but started this one again immediately after finishing it. I just finished my second listening and was no less captivated by the story and Offerman's performance. What a book. It's laugh-out-loud funny, yet serious and touching all at once. The characters are so human, the love between Jake and his father so profound, Charlie such a rich set of contradictions. This book captures what it's like to be alive -- the things we mull on without ever bringing to consciousness, our own ridiculousnesses, the complexity of relationships.

And, of course, "what is the truth?" I won't even go there....but wish I knew someone else who had read this book so that we could chew on that for hours.

I read some really good books in 2021, but enjoyed this one more than any other. It's an absolute gem and Nick Offerman's reading -- the voices, the comic timing -- made the book come alive in a way that I've rarely experienced.

Hope your experience with the book is as joyful, thought-provoking, and touching as mine was.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not worth the trouble

Totally unpleasant character and the story is messy and uninteresting. I tried but could not even finish.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Thinking Person’s book

Beneath the humor and the writing of the author lies a message for thought that goes on long after you finish reading this creative novel of A calling for Charlie Barnes. It’s about truth and reality, my own, that of my families as a child and as an adult, and of many friends we have known over our lifetimes. It’s a ot love and rejection and life and death issues handled with skill and humor which puts everything into perspective. Read it! It’s one of the best audible books I have listened to. Carolyn Jacobson

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best of 2021

One of my favorite types of novels—someone’s story leading to their internal epiphany but this book does it at a whole new level. It is on my mind days after finishing it, and have recommended to my fellow “thinking” readers. It is funny, endearing and comforting. I got the title from the NPR Best Books of 2021 and agree with that honor completely.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

Boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring and I forgot to mention also boring

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Smart, funny and wise

With so many new books coming out at the end of the year, A Calling for Charlie Barnes seems to have gotten a short shrift. Ferris writes about, among other things, families and their dysfunction, aging, the trajectory of a life, and the accuracy of memory. All of this is done with humor, compassion and wisdom.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

This is such a cool story. I didn’t know what to expect but what a great book. It’s funny, sad and totally original. An examination of fathers, sons, families, dreams and life.

They couldn’t have selected a better narrator either. Just well done.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very Good Book, Excellent Reading

This was a good book, well worth listening to. The transitions in time frames was a little confusing for me, but that seems to be the style nowadays. Nick Offerman did an excellent job of reading this novel.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect blend of book and narrator

Great book. Funny and heartfelt, and Nick Offerman just nails it. One of the best I’ve listened to in a long time.

2 people found this helpful