Elevating Overman is a funny and painful story of redemption that explores the complex ramifications of what it means to get a second chance.
The novel follows the journey of Ira Overman, veteran of multiple botched careers and a singularly botched marriage, as he makes one last attempt to rise above the guilt, weakness, and self-hatred that have been hard-wired into his soul since birth. Through an unlikely side effect from a seemingly routine surgery, Overman suddenly finds himself trying to reconcile newfound powers with the man he used to be, determined not to repeat the poor choices of his past. Overman succeeds at righting some of his former wrongs, fails miserably at others, but, most importantly, gains a small yet significant window into a life that matters.
Elevating Overman by Bruce Ferber is a rarity, a genuinely comic novel made even better by the narration of a brilliant comic actor, Jason Alexander. Ira Overman is a nebbish, a loser, a car salesman perpetually harassed by his boss, a divorcee alienated from his family. He seems condemned to a life of loneliness and take-out deli food. Then one day a miracle happens… a bargain priced eye surgery not only corrects his sight, but gives him powers that seem almost, super-hero like. No, he can’t leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but he can get that pretty waitress in the deli to slip him her phone number.
But even Superman can’t undo the past, (Or maybe he can. I haven’t read one of those comics since they cost a dime.) And when Overman tries to atone for something haunting him from his past, the story turns very real and touching.
Elevating Overman reminds me of Bruce Jay Friedman’s wonderful novels, Stern and A Mother’s Kisses in its hilarity, its unembarrassed depiction of Jewish Americans and the very real emotions behind the laughs.
Add to this wonderful novel the vocal talents of Jason Alexander, Seinfeld’s buddy, George Costanza, and this is a singularly enjoyable audiobook.
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What would have made Elevating Overman: A Novel better?
The characters are not only unpleasant, shrieking and mean, no one, not even Overman, seems to learn anything over the course of the book, and it's hard to root for such a loser who has been a terrible person and worse father. It's like low rent Philip Roth. It doesn't even feel contemporary; the suburban Jewish LA characters feel like they're from the 1950's and there's a tone of casual sexism that annoyed me throughout. The "gimmick" of the book is ludicrous and not nearly as clever as the author seems to think. I am very interested in "mid life crises" books, but this just depressed me. Gave it way too much of a chance.
Would you ever listen to anything by Bruce Ferber again?
How did the narrator detract from the book?
Jason Alexander is obviously hugely talented, but I found his takes on the character voices, particularly the women, over the top and grating -- the women are either hysterical or stupid. That being said, no one could have brought this thing to life.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
I can't think of one.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful