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Unexpectedly, Milo: A Novel Audio CD – CD, October 9, 2018
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The author of Something Missing returns with another hilarious and sneakily profound tale about a man whose behavior is truly odd, but also oddly relatable.
Milo Slade, a thirty-three year old home healthcare aide, is witnessing the rapid dissolution of his three-year marriage to a polished, high-powered attorney named Christine. Though Milo doesn't quite know the root of his marital problems, he inevitably blames himself, or more specifically, he faults the demands his obsessive compulsive personality place upon him—the need to open a jar of Smuckers grape jelly or sing “99 Luftballons” in front of an audience, to name just a couple.
Yet Christine is still none the wiser about these inexplicable quirks as Milo has painstakingly hidden them from her and everyone else for years. No one knows the true—and in his mind more insidious—Milo, and such is the root of his profound loneliness, especially now that he and Christine are living apart during a trial separation.
Then one day Milo stumbles across a video camera and tapes, left behind in a park. He watches the first tape, which is a heartfelt confessional by a young woman who begins to reveal her secrets, starting small at first, and finally revealing that she blames herself for a tragic death of a friend. But not all the details add up and Milo is struck with the urge to free the sweet confessor from her guilt. He is, after all, an expert in keeping secrets…
In typical screwball fashion, Milo sets out on a cross-country journey to crack the case, but quickly gets sidetracked as his un-ignorable demands call. But it is during these sidetracks that the true meaning of his adventure takes shape. Milo is weird, but as he discovers, so is everyone else. Unexpectedly, Milo is a humorous and touching novel about finding oneself, embracing the journey, and, unexpectedly, love.
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About the Author
- Publisher : Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (October 9, 2018)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 197862882X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1978628823
- Item Weight : 8.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.13 x 5.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,042,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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As if handling this problem isn't enough, Milo's marriage to Christine is suffering, partially because he is hiding his disorder from her. She has asked for space, he finds an apartment, only to find out that she just wanted him to sleep over at a friend's house for a week or two. And then he finds a camcorder in the park with a bag of videotapes. On these tapes is a mystery woman's video diary, in which she expresses regret for causing a friend's death and divulges other sadnesses in her life. Milo watches long enough to find out who she is (and develops a bit of a crush on her), and then goes on a mission to right one of the wrongs she mentions in the videos.
I wanted to love this book. I really did. The description of Milo's disorder was really vivid and I can only imagine the pain and anxiety he must have felt dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. But after a while, his quirks became too numerous to bear and it was hard to identify with him or follow his motivation for certain actions. I felt more like the frustrated Christine, wondering exactly what made Milo tick. The book was well-written, and I enjoyed many of the supporting characters, but in the end, I just needed space from Milo.
Milo is the sympathetic character in the beginning of the novel. He has these odd, but seemingly harmless obsessions. Viewing Milo's wife through his eyes, the reader at first can only imagine her as entirely unreasonable. But as you start to understand how Milo allows his obsessions to dominate every waking minute of his life, you start to have a little more sympathy for Christine. By the time Milo wants to let all the air out of the tires of his car, you have a full sense of what an annoying person he would be to have around. Milo has not even told Christine about his UBoat Captain, and that was really unfair. I liked the marriage counselor sessions in the beginning and I wish the author had let the truth of Milo's marriage reveal itself in the story instead of having Tess blurt the whole thing out. Trust me, I'll get it.
So, Christine is in this marriage with a guy who can only think about himself and his need to follow the next whim of his fancy from snapping open jelly jars to singing karaoke. Milo tells us that these impulses present themselves as the dictates of a UBoat captain and that he has no alternative but to follow them. Not so, Milo. Adults learn to inhibit some of their impulses. What is going to happen when the UBoat captain tells Milo to do something that isn't harmless? The point is very directly raised by the story about Tess Bryson, the woman who was abused as a child by her father, whose UBoat captain moved beyond jelly jars. I assumed that the irony of Tess saying to Milo that he was not at fault for giving in to the increasing demands of his undisciplined mind was intended. The parallel between Tess's father and Milo's situation cannot be ignored in the context of this story, but the author does ignore it.
I think it would have been a more interesting book if the darker side of an obsessive compulsive disorder had been pursued. By the end of the novel, I had lost all sympathy for Milo. I think the novel needed to deal with the reason for that. Milo is not just a cute eccentric; his has abdicated responsibility for his actions. He has squandered his life and caused unhappiness all around him.
Top reviews from other countries
Milo in himself is an instantly likeable character who is kind and caring and good, at the same time as being lost, clumsy and painfully lonely. His life is ruled by two things - One is to fulfill the compulsive needs that come from nowhere but have to be obeyed, and the other is to hide these needs from everyone around him, most especially his wife. At the same time he is selfless, funny and a true innocent, contrasting deliciously with his complete bitch of a wife. Also, his compulsions and how they run his life are perfectly described, no doubt the reult of thorough research and consideration.
I was completely charmed by the story, by Milo and the people he encounters on his way. It is a satisfying, though very gentle, adventure, a journey of self discovery and re-awakeing to life, sprinkled liberally with dry humour. I did rather feel that the book was sometimes a little too slow, especially in the beginning, though it does pick up in a satisfying way towards the end. I'll remember is as perhaps a little too bland and careful, but all in all an utterly charming little tale.
It is by the same author as "Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" even though in the UK "Memoirs..." is listed as having been written by a Matthew Green (apparently they were worried British people would laugh at the surname Dicks). The author has at this time written one other novel "Something Missing". I had read "Memoirs..." and loved it before reading Unexpectedly Milo but I still have not read Something Missing.
This book is about Milo who seems to have an unusual form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Milo's condition takes the form of seemingly random demands popping into his head at seemingly random moments. He never knows when a demand will pop into his head but when it does he consumed with a need to fulfill it. One common demand that pops into his head is the demand to open sealed jars of jelly, another is the need to bowl a strike, another is to sing a certain song at a karaoke bar. He has kept these demands secret from everybody in his life yet a huge percentage of his time is spent fulfilling them and finding ways to fulfill them in secret. He keeps several jars of jelly in the basement where his wife rarely goes so that when a demand to open them strikes him he can go down there to fulfill it.
At the beginning of the book Milo and his wife have just decided to separate temporarily while they work out there marital problems. His wife still doesn't know about his demands. Milo finds a video camera and a box of videotapes on the tapes a confessional diary of a woman. This discovery plunges him into an adventure as he tries to find out the identity of the woman on the tapes and decides to try to help her come to terms with some of the events she describes on them. While on this quest Milo does some soul searching of his own.
The plot is fairly slight but still intriguing. What really makes the book work is the detail; for example about Milo's demands and the lengths he has to go to to fulfill them and keep them secret. It makes for a very amusing book but also a fascinating and involving one, you learn more and more about Milo (as he learns more about himself) and come to really engage and relate to him. You are also introduced to a range of other characters, all with their own quirks and individuality and the odd details about them really make the story seem very real.
The title is "Unexpectedly Milo" and there is a unpredictable nature to the narrative. It could have easily become a very predictable story but it's not quite. I don't mean that when you get to the ending it will seem like a big surprise just that it's not in sight at the beginning of the story. In that way too the story feels quite real, like in life not everything falls into place at once.
It is told from Milo's point of view and the narrative flips between the present and Milo's memories of the past. This works quite well and isn't too confusing however the one problem with this approach is that sometimes the book launches into an section all about one of his demands just when you want to find out what happens next in the story.
If like me you have discovered this book because you read and liked "Memoirs..." I would say it's very likely you will like this book too. It's different in that there are no fantastical elements, all the characters are adults and it also seems longer. However it has many of the same qualities, "Memoirs..." was also steeped in detail, observations made by the imaginary friend about humans and there quirks and differences and details about the imaginary friends themselves. Both books are also thought provoking, memorable and in a way kind of life-affirming.
I think most people will like this book; it's very funny in places, involving and different.