The Instructions

Adam Levin, McSweeney's, $29 (1,024p) ISBN 978-1-934781-82-1
Only four days pass between the opening scene of boys waterboarding one another to the moment when 10-year-old Gurion Maccabee and his army attempt to take down their unfair school system, but in the dense, frenzied pages of Levin's outsized debut, those few days feel like forever. Gurion, who narrates and refers to the text as "a work of scripture," sees himself as the hero of a yet-to-be-recognized Jewish holiday that celebrates the birth of "perfect justice," and recruits an army of misfits and Torah scholars. But nothing happens quickly, and Levin is as content to tend to the screwy plot as he is to allow Gurion to go on extended digressions about Philip Roth and any number of other topics. Between the hubris it takes to expect readers to digest more than 1,000 pages about a tween who says "the likelihood that I was [the messiah] seemed to me to be increasing by the second" and the shoving in of e-mails, diagrams, and transcripts of television footage, the idea that this could be a great novel is overshadowed by the fact that this is a great big novel, shaggy and undisciplined, but with moments of brilliance. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Open Ebook - 1861 pages - 978-1-936365-68-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-85786-139-9
Paperback - 1030 pages - 978-1-936365-16-6
Hardcover - 1030 pages - 978-0-85786-136-8
Paperback - 1 pages - 978-0-85786-137-5
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