A hybrid of crime and literary novel that explores issues of honor and family history, Over The Shoulder offers a unique view of the American protagonist and reluctant investigator, shaken from the doldrums of his insulated life.
Choice and his partner, Paul Baumgartner, are security specialists for Silicon Valley executives.When Paul gets killed on the job, Choice and an inexperienced Bay Area reporter, Linda Maldonado, begin looking into the puzzling circumstances of the murder. As they work together to unravel the intricate threads of lies and half-truths, they discover that his death might be linked to an older, more personal one -- the mysterious death of Allen's father some twenty years earlier.
With his self-described "philosophy of removement" as his frame of reference, Choice searches for the hidden, long-buried answers, only to be outmaneuvered at every juncture. Against this backdrop of violence and deception, Choice soon discovers secrets that alter his understanding of his father, of his family -- secrets that lead him to a buried history of betrayal.
A new direction for noir fiction, Over the Shoulder is an examination of the past and the present, of long-simmering familiar tensions and the subtle conflicts of race and class; it is a story about the awakening of memories and an understanding of the self.
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"That I am a nobody doesn't bother me as it might some people. I prefer anonymity, unobstructed movement through a crowd with neither a first nor a second glance in my direction." Anonymity is both existential goal and survival skill for Allen Choice, who may call himself a Korean-American but who isn't particularly comfortable with the label. A Silicon Valley security specialist ( don't call him a bodyguard), Choice drifts through life the way he drifts through crowds: detached, isolated, neither particularly fulfilled nor particularly unhappy. He notes wryly, "I used to think I was in inertial rest, a body at rest remaining so. Once an outside force applied itself to me, I would be in motion. I liked this idea. It freed me, relieving me of the responsibility. I just had to wait for an outside force. But I soon realized this was an illusion... I decided to call it the inertial deception. I can't succumb to it."
But in Over the Shoulder, Leonard Chang's brooding neo-noir novel, circumstances conspire to administer an outside force of momentous proportions when Paul Baumgartner, Choice's partner, is killed in front of him. Paul's family, his employers, and the police all assume the hit was directed at the executive the pair were protecting. But Linda Maldonado, a reporter looking for a hot story to catapult her from the thigh cream comparisons and doggy-daycare features of the Lifestyles pages, hectors Choice into investigating Paul's death.
His investigation is quickly fractured by treachery and deception, as he uncovers strange links between Paul's death and that of his own father, an immigrant who died in a warehouse accident when Choice was 8. Elegantly captured in Chang's restrained prose, secrets and memories rise slowly to the surface, forcing Choice to confront both the long-hidden scars of familial bitterness and the poignancy of his father's quest to preserve his dreams of a medical career, even as he succumbed to the exhausting drudgery of physical labor.
Chang's first two novels, The Fruit 'N Food and Dispatches from the Cold, garnered praise for their starkly realistic portrayal of racial tension and quotidian ennui. Over the Shoulder, though leavened with a touch of dry humor, doesn't pull any punches either, as Chang lays bare his protagonist's frailties and fantasies. --Kelly FlynnAbout the Author:
Leonard Chang is the award-winning author of The Fruit 'N Food and Despatches from the Cold. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Antioch University and lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
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Book Description Ecco. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060198397 Ships promptly from Texas. Bookseller Inventory # GGS4203KBGG033017H1323
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Book Description Ecco Press, New York, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Nice, tight, unsold, unread first edition of this Korean American mystery set in California's Silicon Valley. Bookseller Inventory # 001205
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Book Description Harper Collins, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition.... New York: Harper Collins (2001). First edition, first printing. Hardbound. New in dust jacket. A tight, clean copy, unread, flawless. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. [c4] 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # yc32
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