The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done: A Novel

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9780060514990: The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done: A Novel

When Chrysalis Moffat and her brother, Eddie, inherit a mansion on the coast of California, Eddie hatches a plan to fleece credulous Californians of their cash by starting the fraudulent Tibetan School of Miracles.

But something else is happening. Through Chrysalis's reunion with her brother, she begins to discover her adoptive father's secret past, causing her own identity to unravel. As Chrysalis lays down the facts of her life, she gambles her identity against the contradictions, half-truths, and fables of her past, leading her ultimately to question what it is we can truly know and whether it is fate or chance that dictates our lives.

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About the Author:

Sandra Newman is the author of The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, which was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. She is also the author of the novel Cake; the memoir, Changeling; How Not to Write a Novel, an irreverent how-to guide with Howard Mittelmark; and The Western Lit Survival Kit. She lives in New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

Transforming that most pedestrian of documents-the business report-Newman has fashioned a first novel that is anything but by-the-numbers. Chrysalis Moffat, a South American orphan, has grown into a psychologically unstable young woman living alone in the California mansion of her adopted parents, both dead. Her brother, Eddie, "five foot seven inches of sheer depravity," returns from a slacker trip around the world towing a fake Buddhist guru named Ralph, and together they open the Tibetan School of Miracles in the run-down mansion, selling enlightenment to spiritually destitute Californians. But this is just the first in a series of clever false fronts presented by this sprawling, globe-trotting novel, which hops from California to Colorado, Cairo to Kathmandu, exploring Chrysalis's and Eddie's messy lives and the source of their rampant dysfunctionality. Was their father in the CIA? What, exactly, was he doing in South America when he adopted Chrysalis? And what does all this have to do with the world of professional blackjack players? The novel is full of false turns, fake names and jaw-dropping coincidences, all slotted neatly together in Newman's blunt, wry prose. The periodic forays into report format give the narrative a stripped-down authority ("1. My mother died of complications following liposuction surgery. 1.1 A mild heart attack; pneumonia; septicemia. 1.2 Long-term alcoholism was the root cause") and giddy chapter headings ("Dave Something Scottish," "A Battle Between the Forces of Good and Evil"). This is a virtuoso performance, and if it sometimes reads like parody-wallowing in cancer, suicide, incest, mental illness-it more than proves Newman a writer worth watching.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, Australia, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Chrysalis Moffat and her brother, Eddie, inherit a mansion on the coast of California, Eddie hatches a plan to fleece credulous Californians of their cash by starting the fraudulent Tibetan School of Miracles. But something else is happening. Through Chrysalis s reunion with her brother, she begins to discover her adoptive father s secret past, causing her own identity to unravel. As Chrysalis lays down the facts of her life, she gambles her identity against the contradictions, half-truths, and fables of her past, leading her ultimately to question what it is we can truly know and whether it is fate or chance that dictates our lives. Bookseller Inventory # NLF9780060514990

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