• A Calling for Charlie Barnes

  • By: Joshua Ferris
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (460 ratings)

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A Calling for Charlie Barnes  By  cover art

A Calling for Charlie Barnes

By: Joshua Ferris
Narrated by: Nick Offerman
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Publisher's summary

From National Book Award Finalist Joshua Ferris comes a “murderously funny” novel about a modern American family and one man’s attempt to come to understand the many lives of his father. (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

Someone is telling the story of the life of Charlie Barnes, and it doesn't appear to be going well. Too often divorced, discontent with life's compromises, and in a house he hates, this lifelong schemer and eternal romantic would like out of his present circumstances and into the American dream. But when the twin calamities of the Great Recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, and an infinite past full of forking paths quickly tapers to a black dot.

Then, against all odds, something goes right for a change: Charlie is granted a second act. With help from his storyteller son, he surveys the facts of his life and finds his true calling where he least expects it — in a sacrifice that redounds with selflessness and love — at last becoming the man his son always knew he could be.

The new book by the acclaimed author Joshua Ferris, narrated by the beloved actor Nick Offerman, is a profound and tender portrait of a man whose desperate need to be loved is his downfall, and a brutally funny account of how that love is ultimately earned.

©2021 Joshua Ferris (P)2021 Little, Brown & Company

Critic reviews

"Ferris’s abundant skill has been evident since his debut novel, “Then We Came to the End,” was published in 2007, but here he has taken a huge leap forward, twisting semi-autobiographical material in such serpentine ways that even the author’s note is devious. This is a more tender novel than Ferris’s others, but that doesn’t keep it from being murderously funny from start to finish...Ferris's most daring experiment...Ferris’s prose remains taut and gorgeous, even when bleak. Also give him props for finding precisely the right way to meld memoir with satire, to do this with bracing originality and to keep heads spinning from this novel’s first page to its last. Gamesmanship and love don’t mix easily. But Ferris has found a way to do it, and he’s risen to the top of his game.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times Book Review

"DazzlingThere's no shortage of make-believe in A Calling for Charlie Barnes, Ferris' fifth, and best, book. A Calling for Charlie Barnes wears its metafictional heart on its sleeve, but as smart as it is, Ferris never shows any signs of falling in love with his own cleverness. Literary experiments without warmth tend to fall flat for most readers, but Ferris' novel is—remarkably, given its flawed subject—full of heart...In his previous works, Ferris has proved that he's one of the best American authors of comic fiction working today. His humor is on full display with A Calling for Charlie Barnes, but so are his intelligence and compassion; it's a masterpiece that shines a revealing light on both family and fiction itself.”—Michael Schaub, NPR

"Joshua Ferris is one of our best writers, and A Calling for Charlie Barnes is wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant. Ingeniously written, it had me up reading late into the night. A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities."—Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward