Slider Review

I don’t typically review books, mostly because I’m lousy at it. But recently a very fine novel crossed my threshold and I thought I’d tell you about it. It will be on store shelves in September, so consider kicking off your fall reading with…

Slider by Pete Hautman

Slider cover

Here’s a secret I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone before: Pete Hautman (whom I’ve never met) is responsible for one of my books.

You see, I read and devoured and was forever transformed by his quite exceptional novel Godless, which is still, in my estimation, one of the best critiques of religion I’ve ever read.

In under 250 pages.

Godless coverI was utterly gobsmacked by that book, by Hautman’s audacity and intellect and wit. And by the fact that he was able to establish and transform characters and offer up a scathing rebuke to religious thought, all in a little over 200 pages.

Meanwhile, I had just written 600 pages about a kid screwing his teacher. Consider me properly chastened.

I wanted to do what Hautman had done and so I wrote Hero-Type, in which I tried to apply a Hautman-esque ethos to politics. (I failed miserably, but that’s not his fault.)

Anyway, I’m in awe of Pete Hautman, so I was thrilled to get my greedy little hands on an advance copy of Slider, his new middle-grade novel.

Slider is the story of David, an endlessly hungry tween who aspires to competitive eating greatness. He can slurp down an entire pizza in nothing flat, and now that he accidentally charged $2000 on his mom’s credit card, he really really needs to win the big state eating contest…or he’s dead meat.

Throw in adolescent confusion, two best friends who seem to be becoming closer than is comfortable, and an autistic younger brother who sucks all the oxygen (and attention) out of the room, and you have a recipe for something truly different and powerful. In Hautman’s hands, that recipe ends up perfectly balanced. He deftly combines humor, pathos, yearning, and introspection, never allowing any one of them to overpower the others. You’re rooting for David all along, living in his head, and never once do you feel manipulated by authorial fiat.

Most amazing of all, Hautman makes you care about the obsessive detail of a competitive eater, even if the thought of eating more than one hot dog at a sitting makes you want to retch.

Slider has brains and heart and an iron cast stomach…and it certainly has one hell of a funny bone. You can preorder your copy with the links below.

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