Something Missing: A Novel


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I only allow myself a page or two a week, with as much re-reading as I want, as this will be the last new Vonnegut novel for me. Describe your writing process. Like Martin, did you find it difficult to get started on a novel after doing fairly well with non-fiction assignments? The most difficult part of writing a novel for me was the first word. Even an outline seemed so daunting that I wasted years thinking about writing rather than just jumping in and beginning to write. Now that I have the first novel under my belt, things have been much easier. I took a week off before starting my second book, and when I finished it back in February, I had planned to take a week off to write a couple Op-Ed pieces, but instead, I literally opened a new document on my laptop and began writing.

I had moved from one book to the next in a matter of seconds. I have a list of novel ideas a mile long, and a couple ideas in particular have garnered my attention right now. I try to write for at least two hours every day. An hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

But I carry my laptop everywhere I go and take advantage of every spare minute to write. A new character had appeared in the story and I did not know why. It took me a while to finally figure it out. Being from the video game generation, I crave instant feedback, so I have a group of people who read my books, chapter by chapter, as I write.

They provide me with invaluable insight, opinions and encouragement on the course of my story. This often results in cheesy, overly dramatic, teaser sentences at the end of each chapter that my agent can usually convince me to eliminate during the revision process. Your acknowledgments begin with a quote from Stephen King about what a difference it makes for writers to have someone who believes in them.

Talk about the people who made a difference in your writing career, particularly your wife and your high-school English teacher. Compopiano have no idea how important they are in the lives of their students. I often wonder if he even remembers me. When I entered Mr. I wrote for the school newspaper and kept a diary off and on during my high school career, and I wrote I lot of notes and letters to girls. Though I never thought that writing could become a career for me, I also managed to make a little money with my ability. For a short period of time, I went into the business of writing and selling term papers for my fellow students.

See a Problem?

The day that changed life as a writer was November 29, On that day, I handed in an assignment in which I was asked to write a satirical piece that expressed humor. I wrote a piece on how America claims to be the land of the free, yet young men can be forcibly sent to foreign countries in order to kill strangers. I also noted that it is illegal to engage in prostitution and commit suicide, both seemingly personal decisions, and that many states restricted the rights of homosexuals.

In reading this piece today, I cringe. It is not well written. It is not funny. And it is barely satirical. But on that day in November, I was certain that I was handing in a gem, so three days later, December 2, , when Mr. Compo handed back the assignment with a grade of B-, I was confounded. Scrawled across the paper were the words Not satire as well as Many spelling errors!

At the top of the page, Mr. Some of this is not satire. Despite his years of experience, I had decided in that moment that Mr. He had no clue what satire was and had missed the whole point of my piece. Emboldened by overconfidence, I approached his desk and protested my grade. We debated the merits of my piece for a while, and finally, he offered a solution: Read the piece to the class.

If a majority believes that it is satire, I will increase the score on your paper by one letter grade. But if a majority agrees with me, we decrease your score by one letter grade. Basking in self-assurance and unable to refuse a challenge, I agreed. Though this was a serious English class, and I knew that my classmates would be fair and objective, I was also certain that I was right and that they would side with me.

By a unanimous vote, the class declared my work as satire and my B- was instantly transformed into an A-. I still have the assignment upon which the change in score is noted. After reading the piece, Mr. Compo admitted that the tone in which I read the piece helped in delineating the satire quite a bit, and what initially sounded dry and rhetorical came to life as I spoke the words.

I was no David Sedaris, nor am I anywhere in his league today. My piece, which was entitled Welcome to America , is amateurish, silly, and somewhat embarrassing as I read it today, but on that December morning, I learned that my words can change minds.

Customer reviews

On that morning, I had changed the mind of a man I respected a great deal, perhaps the man who I respected the most at that time, and from then on, I knew that I wanted to write. My wife is my biggest fan and the bedrock upon which everything else in my life is built. Her honesty, her love for my work and her enthusiasm for everything I do means so much to me. Writing can be a lonely process, but with Elysha, I feel like I have a silent partner sitting beside me at all times, believing in me.

I expected her to be excited, but I did not expect her to collapse to the ground, crying hysterically. She fell to tile floor, back against the wall, cheeks red, tears rolling down her face, weeping into her hands. Colleagues poked their heads from classrooms, certain that something terrible had just happened.

I was so happy. The phone call from my agent, telling me about the news of the sale was great, but to knock your wife off her feet with news like this was indescribable. More than anyone or anything, she is the reason that I write. The interesting things about lock picking in general is that unless you are robbing homes repeatedly, lock picks, whether they be pick guns or the old fashion kind, are relatively useless to burglars.

As secure as we imagine our homes to be, most of us are only as safe as the thin pane of glass in each one of our windows. Perhaps even easier, since lock picking requires time. I don't care how many good deeds a it's a little hard for me to decide what I think of this book. I don't care how many good deeds a person does in the process, breaking into people's homes, going through their things and taking items is not endearing behavior.

If you are willing to suspend your disbelief enough to get past that, I suspect you will enjoy the book, but for me I wasn't ever entirely able to quiet that disbelief. Feb 19, Angela rated it it was amazing Shelves: What a wonderful debut novel about a lovable thief! Martin is believable, sympathetic, and twisted all at the same time.

Something Missing

I love how Martin refers to his victims as "clients" and his life of crime as "work". A must read for anyone interested in suspense, mystery, psychology, and literature. Aug 22, Chris rated it it was amazing. This is a wonderful story, full of ironic humor, suspense, and feel-good incidents. It's also squeaky clean, with a complete absence of profanity and only a couple of very-minor sexual references.

This was a fun read and, given that it's the author's first novel, I'll be watching for his next. Somewhere along the way, Dicks made me care, not just about Martin but about the proposition that he could help the people he is otherwise stealing from. I can even point to when my opinion began to shift. Dicks telegraphs the change at the beginning of Chapter 3: For Martin, that day was a Wednesday in October.

The lack of dialogue, at least for the first part of the novel, compounds this issue: And I admit that well into the book, even after I had begun to heartily enjoy it, I still struggled to derive a lot of pleasure from the writing itself. So Something Missing is not a modern love letter to the English language and modern prose. But it is a quirky story about a sympathetic burglar.

I love stories that take advantage of the moral ambiguity of the sympathetic criminal, and this book succeeded for me where The Hitman Diairies did not. Now, Martin is quite different from the main character of that book: See, the entire setup of Martin robbing select couples, whom he calls his clients rather affectionately, is hilarious and ripe for situation comedy.

Oh no, Martin has to hide behind a sofa until he can escape undetected! But the husband is watching TV instead of taking a shower like his wife nagged him to! But Dicks understands that such a setup is limited to only a few good jokes before it become stale. Martin begins Something Missing as someone who, well, is missing a lot in terms of personality.

He has even less of a social life than I do. His career and fencing the proceeds of his career takes up most of his time. But he comes across as somewhat empty.


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And when this has more profound consequences for him on a personal level, I kept worrying he would screw things up. Then for the last act, Dicks raises the stakes again. Martin has the opportunity to jump from guardian angel to straight-up guardian when he discovers that one of his clients is in danger of being attacked and raped in her own home.

He is faced with the dilemma of how to avert this without revealing his own illegal activities, either to her or to the police. And if he had never taken on this client, he would never have discovered the impending attack and been able to do something about it. I admire the way that Dicks continually raises the stakes and the risks he takes in mixing such serious elements into what is otherwise a comedic novel. Something Missing does not stand out as a brilliant work of art. I was getting good thrill out of this, and in the last few chapters where Martin truly has to step up, it became almost a thriller instead of an easy comedic read.

Aug 18, Eileen W rated it really liked it. This was a book club pick that I found myself really enjoying. It is interesting, humorous, suspenseful Feb 02, Tatra rated it really liked it Shelves: I absolutely loved this book.

It really sucked me in and the whole thing was awesome. I love thieves and Martin certainly is an odd one, thinking of people as clients. Feb 20, Ilya rated it really liked it Shelves: I cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did whilst reading Something Missing. Hilarious, quirky, feel-good story that everyone should read! Feb 18, Vegantrav rated it liked it. Martin discovers one of his clients is in grave danger, and he is the only person in a position to help her, but because he knows of her predicament as a result of his criminal activities, he is at a loss as to how to act cons: Nov 22, Louise rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was a hilarious story!

At times it was serious, at times heart pounding and at times funny as heck. Martin is a career criminal with OCD obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies who has a list of clients he frequents. Sometimes it is food items, other times soap or laundry detergent, toilet paper and sometimes even jewellery. Believe me, it was a heart pounding few pages, I was actually jiggling my legs reading that chapter and saying to myself: This story is a masterpiece and I think anyone who reads it will never forget it.

I hope that Mr. Jul 26, Jennifer rated it liked it Shelves: This book has a great premise - our hero Martin makes a career out of breaking into people's homes and taking only what they won't miss. For Martin its a combination of grocery shopping a tomato here, a bar of soap there and a money maker a diamond necklace that hasn't been worn for years gets sold on ebay. As the other reviews on Goodreads point out, there are a LOT of details to this book to explain how Martin can actually get away with this.

And the reviewer's pleasure in the book seem to This book has a great premise - our hero Martin makes a career out of breaking into people's homes and taking only what they won't miss. And the reviewer's pleasure in the book seem to depend on whether or not they like reading into all that nitty gritty or if they want more plot and dialog. I fall into the plot and dialog camp which is why I can only give this fairly enjoyable book 3 stars or lets call it 3. Martin is very likable and engaging which also made me wonder how it was possible that he only had one friend who barely seemed to know him since he was clueless about Martin's career.

So likable that I was starting to wish that he would come and clean out my fridge once in a while. But after about pages where nothing had really happened I was starting to lose interest in my new friend and start thinking about what book I was going to read next. Luckily the last third of the book does had some action although its all a little far fetched but it was enough to keep me reading. Jul 08, Megan rated it really liked it Shelves: As I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself: It is a novel that takes a moment to explain exactly how supermarket loyalty cards work.

How is this interesting? Why did I keep reading, and actually enjoy what I was reading? I really did find it interesting. It was sort of like a much more detailed Dirty Jobs for me. By taking us through every step of the character's thou As I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself: By taking us through every step of the character's thought process, he became a much more sympathetic character.

I actually really appreciated all of the little details. There were a few strange moments in the book, bits and pieces I thought would be important again but never came up, but perhaps they just seemed more important because of the way the protagonist considers every possible action carefully before continuing.

He pushes everything way up to highest importance, even the way he greets his waitress at the diner he goes to for breakfast, so everything seems more important than it is. Now, where's Mike Rowe when you need him? Dec 19, Pygmy rated it liked it Shelves: Lots of points for this book for the concept, but I wish someone else had executed it. The character's voice is more than a little pedantic, and for the first 3 quarters of the book, the only conversation the character has is with a parrot.

Everything else is just paragraph after pargraph of description It got a bit more exciting by the last quarter of the book; the main character meets a potential love inte Lots of points for this book for the concept, but I wish someone else had executed it.

It got a bit more exciting by the last quarter of the book; the main character meets a potential love interest, he's meddling in the lives of his "clients" to make things better for them, all the way up to that final heroic conclusion. I'm not crazy about the way the author handles dialogue, but the quirky concept had me thinking that this is the perfect story to turn into a movie. Lately I've been obsessed with watching Burn Notice and Touching Evil US version , and I feel that the actor Jeffrey Donovan is the perfect guy to pull off this oddball character who skirts the law but has a kind heart and well meaning intentions.

Make me a movie, please. Oct 05, April Hochstrasser rated it really liked it. The main character is utterly charming as a kind of "Monk" gone awry. The author knows how to set up a situation so you can't wait to see what happens next and OCD Martin is a man who has few friends, no family to speak of, and keeps to himself as much as possible. The one thing that brings him comfort and pride is his self proclaimed "job". He is extremely dedicated to his clients, and is very selective as to who he takes on--or rather, takes from.

His "takes" usually include items like butter, The main character is utterly charming as a kind of "Monk" gone awry. His "takes" usually include items like butter, salad dressing, soap and canned vegetables, with a client's forgotten diamond necklace or never used china piece thrown in every once in a while. Martin never takes things that would be missed. Martin has found himself drawn into the lives of his clients because he has knowledge that can save their relationships and even their lives.

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But can he force himself to step over the line and enter their lives for real? I couldn't put it down after a few beginning pages that weren't as exciting. I tried this book before and couldn't get into it, so hang on for about 20 pages and you'll find a gem. Dec 23, Tanya Sen rated it liked it.

There's an accurate description of this book somewhere in the author notes: Takes an unusual talent to be able to create a character who in every conventional sense would be a villain, but whom you cannot help but like. The writing style was gently humorous There's an accurate description of this book somewhere in the author notes: Of course, this could also be because of his unique business model—taking only items that will go unnoticed by the homeowner. After all, who would notice a missing roll of toilet paper here, a half-used bottle of maple syrup there, or even a rarely used piece of china buried deep within a dusty cabinet?

Even though he's never met these homeowners, spending hours in their houses, looking through their photo albums and reading their journals, he feels like he knows them. So Martin decides to meddle more in their lives—playing the part of a rather odd guardian angel—even though it means breaking many of his neurotic rules.

Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
Something Missing: A Novel Something Missing: A Novel
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