It takes guts to release a 1000-page-plus first novel in the thick of the fall season and expect the world to notice, but where would McSweeney’s Books – the literary home of Dave Eggers – be without guts, and good media connections?

Adam Levin‘s literary novel, The Instructions, takes place over four days in the life of a 10-year-old named Gurion Maccabee, born with a birthmark that spells out the Hebrew word for “Lord.” That’s enough to make him a troubled kid with a messiah complex, sent to a school for difficult children, where he plants seeds of rebellion.

The book has been getting early buzz in Chicago, where much of the action is set – with its ambition and girth drawing comparisons to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Time Out Chicago declared it one of the Fall’s must-reads. The Chicago Tribune wasn’t convinced it needed to be so long, but declared that “for all its eye-rolling cleverness and sprawling unkempt invention, it’s to be savored.” And Chicagoist has a Q&A with the author.

And now, the New York Observer is chiming in, rather breathlessly: “This is a life-consuming novel, one that demands to be read feverishly. When it is over, other fiction feels insufficient, the newspaper seems irrelevant.”

Libraries we checked had modest holds on modest orders – but may want to keep an eye on this one, as the buzz develops.

The Instructions
Adam Levin
Retail Price: $29.00
Hardcover: 1030 pages
Publisher: McSweeney’s – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1934781827 / 9781934781821

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