4 reviews

Life Among Giants: A Novel
by Bill Roorbach

Published: 2012-11-13
Hardcover : 352 pages
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This funny, exuberant novel captures the reader with the grand sweep of seven-foot-tall David “Lizard” Hochmeyer’s larger-than-life quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents’ deaths. It’s a journey laden with pro football stars, a master chef and his beautiful ...

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This funny, exuberant novel captures the reader with the grand sweep of seven-foot-tall David “Lizard” Hochmeyer’s larger-than-life quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents’ deaths. It’s a journey laden with pro football stars, a master chef and his beautiful transvestite lover, a world-famous ballerina and her English rocker husband, and a sister who’s as brilliant as she is unstable. A wildly entertaining, plot-twisting novel of murder, seduction, and revenge—rich in incident, expansive in character, and lavish in setting—Life Among Giants is an exhilarating adventure. 

Editors’ pick for Amazon’s Best of 2012 

Shelf Awareness Top Ten Best Fiction of 2012 

Columbus Dispatch’s Top Books of 2012 

Editorial Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: I hereby nominate Lizard the humongous football player and Sylphide the mysterious ballerina as two of my favorite characters of 2012. Rarely have such elite and outsize personalities felt so true on the page--a joy to be with, worth rooting for. We meet Lizard at age 17, when his parents are murdered, setting up his decades-long search for the truth behind his father's shady business dealings and his family's weblike relationship with the couple in the mansion next door: Sylphide, the world's greatest dancer, and her rock star husband. Like early John Irving, Roorbach has crafted a story that's rollicking and sexy but not shallow or slight. Seven-foot Lizard and petite Sylphide, both giants in their own way, are a pair to behold. Part Gatsby, part Garp, Life Among Giants is an urgent tale of greed, love, and revenge. --Neal Thompson


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Discussion Questions

1. Who are the giants of the title? Is Lizard one of them, or is he merely an observer and chronicler? What is life among these giants like for Lizard? How have they steered his life? And how has he resisted them?

2. Why do you think Sylphide is so attracted to Lizard, and why, throughout their lives, does she keep him at arm’s length? In what ways does he differ from the men she chooses to marry?

3. What is the draw of the High Side for each of the members of the ?Hochmeyer family? Is it something different for each one? Is there an equal repulsion for each? Who pays the highest price?

4. Where would you place the root cause of the Hochmeyer family’s problems? Is it Dad’s insecurity and posing? Kate’s troubled questing? Mom’s chilly withholding? Or does it lie with Lizard himself? The Hochmeyer family has a lot of secrets, and a lot of alliances among its members. What are the secrets, and who knows what? And who shares what with whom?

5. How did your opinions of the characters in Life Among Giants shift as you read? Were there any characters you started out mistrusting but ending up liking? Any characters you started out liking and ended up mistrusting? Any you held a steady regard or dislike for?

6. Is Lizard’s father truly bad? Or is he an insecure person trying to build himself up? Is he being manipulated by stronger forces, or is he an operator, looking out for himself?

7. Lizard connects with a number of women in the book, yet he seems to pick loves who aren’t truly available. What’s that all about?

8. Emily is very important to Lizard, yet she doesn’t offer herself to him very fully. Why does he hold her in such high regard? What role does she play in his development and in the devel-opment of the story?

9. How would you describe Lizard’s relationship with Linsey? What about Sylphide’s relationship with him, and Kate’s? What is Linsey’s role in the story?

10. Lizard takes warmly to Etienne and RuAngela. Why do you think this odd couple appeals to him?

11. From the first paragraph to the last climactic moments, food plays a big part in Life Among Giants. What is the role of food in the narrative?

12. Why does Sylphide choose death in the end? Hasn’t she every reason to live?

13. What do you think Kate and Dabney’s relationship was really like? Was it one based on love or was it based on something else?

14. Life Among Giants is not a traditional mystery, nor is it a traditional bildungsroman. How does it depart from the conventions of each genre? How does the story of this young man’s growth interconnect with his quest to find the killers?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“A bighearted, big-boned story . . . Life Among Giants reads like something written by a kinder, gentler John Irving . . . Roorbach is a humane and entertaining storyteller with a smooth, graceful style.”--The Washington Post

“Consistently surprising and truly entertaining . . . Part thriller, part family drama, Life Among Giants is deliciously strange and deeply affecting.”--The Boston Globe

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Life Among Giants Fell Short"by nbaker (see profile) 09/01/16

I find myself in a pattern of reading stories that skip around so much I feel I must precede each book with a dose of Dramamine. Perhaps I have somehow fallen out of sync in the rhythm of re... (read more)

by Ebwatts (see profile) 07/11/14

  "Difficult to get through"by Lmayes12 (see profile) 06/12/13

  "Life Among Giants"by tonitr (see profile) 06/08/13

I did not enjoy this book at all. The characters were not well developed at all and the book was confusing. I really didn't care what happened to the characters. I'm not quite sure why I finished it.... (read more)

  "Life Among Giants"by lcronin (see profile) 06/08/13

Poorly written, characters were never developed, too many characters introduced that had no significance to the story, no clear story plot, the parents died but that is never really addressed, we know... (read more)

  "Life Among Giants"by MauraK (see profile) 06/08/13

This book was confusing and had no direction. Characters that should have been the focus were oddly left in the shadows. Some of the characters were interesting and I would have liked to have seen further... (read more)

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