Read Like a Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury Online


Jill, a part-time bookseller with a biting wit, gets her hands on a rare, first-edition novel by Jack London -- courtesy of a suspicious-looking dwarf. Soon, a polite assassin arrives, with the dwarf in tow, demanding the book back. But Jill has already unloaded the valuable tome, and, as she values her life, immediately sets off to recover it. As an outrageous cast of thuJill, a part-time bookseller with a biting wit, gets her hands on a rare, first-edition novel by Jack London -- courtesy of a suspicious-looking dwarf. Soon, a polite assassin arrives, with the dwarf in tow, demanding the book back. But Jill has already unloaded the valuable tome, and, as she values her life, immediately sets off to recover it. As an outrageous cast of thugs, sycophants, and central casting rejects join in the chase for the elusive volume and the special secret it contains, Jill finds herself cheated, kidnapped, drugged, tortured, and even forced to work as a movie extra. Twisted and subversive, Jen Banbury's debut is a mad, breathtaking romp through a hilariously dark vision of contemporary America....

Title : Like a Hole in the Head
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780446675178
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 296 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Like a Hole in the Head Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-04-22 17:35

    ”Whenever I worked at the bookstore, I worked alone. The owner was either out trying to buy books or visiting his friends in San Francisco. He went to San Francisco a lot, which meant I worked a lot. That was fine with me. I liked the store better than my apartment. It was quiet. I could sit and read for hours at a time.”Unfortunately, I never had a bookstore job where I could sit around and read. Sometimes I’d steal a paragraph of reading while I was shelving books, but most of my time was spent buying books at the used book counter or managing a large staff of neurotic workers. Jill would have fit in fine with the neurotic staff, but might not have done well with me directing her to run a cash register, answer the phones, or fetch a book for a customer. The thing about bookstores is I’ve never worked in one that wasn’t understaffed. Every shift I worked, I was short at least one pair of hands. It was fine, though, because in those days I had energy to burn, and keeping one step ahead of potential chaos was all part of the fun in showing up to work. Jill might have created more chaos than I could handle. Her day starts off fairly normal. She is riding her bicycle; she is $200 short of owning a crappy Honda, when a nose picking moron almost runs her off the road. She gets to work just in time to watch the cat hurl a soggy hairball down the rare book shelves. She returns from cleaning that up only to find a dwarf standing at the counter wanting to sell her a book. She isn’t pleased, but thinks she can fob him off down the road easily enough.She doesn’t buy books. The owner does. I’ve trained people on how to buy used books. There are people who have a gift, and those who don’t. Those who don’t have the knack wash out of the program and move into shelving books full time or answering the phones. Every book employee wants to be a book buyer because they are mini-gods in the used book universe. Yes, I was once worshipped. The key to being really good is to recognize something unusual, even if you don’t know the writer. I used to get this tingle about a book and knew that it was something special even if I’d never heard of it. If a dwarf walked in with a first edition copy of The Cruise of the Snark, signed by Jack London, the hair on the back of neck would have been standing at full attention, and let’s be honest, here I would have had the beginnings of a chub. One of the things that you learn about the book biz is that the books should fit the customer. I’ve been burnt more than once by somebody coming in to sell their father’s prized collection of Arkham books to buy nose candy or sell their aunt’s early Stephen Kings for money to get out of town. I would have asked the dwarf a few questions, and I can tell you that his answers would have stunk like four day old fish or been as smelly as his sweating armpits. There is a part of me, that evil greedy book collector side, who would have been looking at the dwarf’s grubby, chubby hands and would have started whispering in the ear of my saintly pious side, “You must save this book.” We can always justify things in our head. When the dwarf pops off to Jill that he will sell her the book for $20, whatever doubts I might have had about the ownership of the book would have been dispelled. It’s stolen.A first edition of Jack London is going to be worth hundreds of dollars. A signed one could get into the thousands. Bells, whistles, and brass bands would have been playing in my head. Wait, did he just say $20? The greedy book collector is doing back flips in my head. During my time in the book business, I had to fire four people for stealing books. One was a book buyer who was buying rare books at the counter and putting them in the rejects (rejects were books left by customers that we didn’t want to pay for), and throughout the day a book shelver from the back would come up with a handcart and move the rejects to the backdoor where they would eventually be picked up by Goodwill. The backdoor was the very door the employees left to go home. Now Sara, we will just call her Sara, would pluck the tasty morsel out of the reject pile and walk out the door to her car. My catching her had more to do with my natural radar for interesting books than any real sleuthing, but that, my friends, is another story. Jill checks a few reference books and comes to realize that she has the means to buy that crappy Honda right there in the sweaty hands of a thief. Greed is the downfall of many. This downfall is going to put a major crimp in her easy going lifestyle. She offloads the book to a dealer she knows for a healthy profit. Moments later she gets a menacing call telling her the book is stolen, and they are coming down to get it. The thing to understand is books can move around the country very quickly. I might sell a book to a collector in Phoenix, but he might decide to trade it to another collector in Indiana for a book he desires more, a day later. I always enjoy finding clues in used books I own that tell some of the story of where they have been. Jill knows she needs to return this book, but soon discovers that the real ownership is difficult to determine as she maneuvers through a minefield of Hollywood moguls, sleazy book dealers, one gloved maniacs, and a flaming (literally) irritating dwarf. The book does produce some chuckles. The book side is fun and reasonably accurate. The problem is the author seems to get lost in her own plot, and the book does lose momentum in the end. Regardless, I still enjoyed the book maybe because I firmly believe that any movie or book is instantly better with a dwarf worked into the plot. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:

  • Erin W
    2019-05-19 20:31

    Rewatching Friends on Netflix. Monica and Rachel both read this book in season 4. It reminded me that I picked up this book around 2004 solely because Rachel and Monica read it in season 4. It's only OK.

  • Gary
    2019-04-22 17:33

    I read this book because I love bibliomysteries involving used bookstores and rare books. We can always use more bibliomysteries. When this came out, I was excited to dig into a new one. Unfortunately this one is grating, annoying, and a waste of time.It comes down to this: the protagonist, Jill, is completely unsympathetic. By the middle of the book, I didn't care what happened to her. The premise is that she's a slacker bookstore worker. Apparently the author thinks that fact alone should make us like the character. Had there been anything else of substance to the character or the story, it could have been fun and interesting. Instead the protagonist is just annoying, immature, makes stupid decisions, and doesn't learn a single thing or change in any way by the end of the book. She's not entertaining, not funny, not witty, not anything. There's a torture scene near the end of the book, but by that time I didn't care what happened to her. You would think this torture would make her snap out of her stupor but, no, she continues on her dull way.The supporting characters are one-dimensional. There is far too much padding material in the book, lots of text that has no relation to the rest of the story or to any of the characters. I found myself thinking, "alright already, get back to the story. Tell us something relevant." There's not much book talk or discussion of rare books or bookstore operations, so if you're looking for that, you'll be disappointed. It's a shame, really, because I wanted to like the book, but even the most sympathetic reading of it leaves one disappointed. Let's hope the author matures as a writer.If you're looking for a bibliomystery with lots of book talk, read John Dunning's "Booked To Die" or Samuel Hirsh Gottlieb's "Overbooked In Arizona." You won't be disappointed.

  • James
    2019-04-26 22:46

    As far as I can discern, this remains Ms. Banbury's only novel to date, which is a shame, because her voice is so distinctive and memorable. I can still recall much of this book years after my last re-reading. I do understand, though--this book set the bar so high, it would be hard to top. And doing some research online, I learned that she spent some time in Iran (!) writing journalism for Salon. But that was a while ago. She's also mentioned, briefly, in a book about two guys who made money selling t-shirts to Sox fans here in Boston who then went to Iran also. If someone could give me more recent information about this woman, I'd be ever so grateful.In the meantime, I can only add that if you're in the mood to read about a woman working part time in a used book store who stumbles across a mystery involving a very rare first edition and an even rarer dwarf, then this is the novel for you. The good news is that it shouldn't be too hard to secure a cheap copy from an online vendor, even though I'm pretty sure it's (sadly) out of print.Worse comes to worse, you can ask me for one, since I think I have about four copies myself.

  • Lynn
    2019-04-26 18:29

    This book petered out for me pretty badly across its final fifty pages, but...up till then, I was having a hell of a time. It was zany, preposterous, and irreverent enough to remind me of the inane stories my sister and I used to write together as bored early adolescents with our overactive imaginations, limited grasp of reality, and demented sense of fun. The protagonist of this story is a twenty-something screw-up, with a big mouth and a sense of nothing left to lose. She inadvertently gets caught up in dangerous intrigue, which forms the center of the plot....but I never got wrapped up in the storyline so much as in her voice. She's just a fun lead character who many would find obnoxious in all contexts, and who would probably crack me up in any book or film she figured in. When actual violence entered the story, I was surprised. It seemed jarring, out of place. From that point on, I began to lose interest. But the first 150 pages or so were fresh and fun. Too bad the author didn't just stick with what was working--a quirky character having misadventures.

  • Oceana2602
    2019-05-08 17:32

    First, let me make it clear that I didn't buy this book. I won it. Actually, I won a video of "Tarzan" (I'm not talking about the cute Disney version) and then chose to swap it against the book, thinking that a book, any book, suerly must be better than "Tarzan".Boy, was I wrong. And I'm saying this although I've never even seen Tarzan.So, the book. It wasn't even that bad in the beginning. Girl, working in book store, mysterious first edition book by author I have conveniently forgotten. Some confusion, she tries to get book back etc. It could have been a good story. (In fact, it was an excellent story in "The Secret of Lost Things", see my review.) However, in an attempt to be uebercool, the author chose to make her protagonist a slutty, dirty, dumb alcoholic. And as if this wasn't bad enough, she added lots of unerotic, sex and graphic violence to the mix. Did I mention the story took place near or in Hollywood? Maybe it is a political statement?In hindsight, I should have been warned by the use if the word "tits" (I think) or something equally shocking to the average US-american, but I'm from Europe and was taught to politely ignore unexpected nakedness. So I was already about 100 pages into the book, that I chose to read some goodreads reviews, to make sure that I hadn't fallen into the alternative universe of really bad books that hide behind okay writing. Lucky for me, someone mentioned a detailed torture scene towards the end of the book, and good riddance!, off you go, into the very very back of the shelf, so that no one knows I even own you, book.I'm so glad that I got over the habit of finishing every book I started some time ago.

  • dinni tresnadewi
    2019-05-18 01:27

    I got the second-handed copy of this book a few years a go. I gotta say it was one of the best tiga puluh rebu I spent. Agak lucu juga waktu membandingkan rating dan review di Goodreads. Tampaknya orang akan benci sekali atau suka sekali dengan Like a Hole in the Head. Yang saya suka dari novel ini adalah bagaimana Jen Banburry memoles tokoh utama, Jill, menjadi karakter yang tomboy, reckless, berantakan, selalu sial, yet lovable. Like a Hole in the Head adalah sebuah petualangan kecil yang dialami Jill hanya karena ia berhubungan dengan buku yang disinyalir adalah kopi pertama "Call of the Wild"-nya Jack London. Awalnya ia berpikir bahwa buku inilah tiket untuk mendapatkan motor tua impian yang keren, tapi tak dinyana, si buku justru menjadi awal bencana untuk keseharian Jill yang malas dan tenang. Dengan melibatkan Timmy si bekas bintang film cilik, seorang hitman yang mirip kurcaci, dealer buku yang ambisius, tak lupa Scott--teman Jill--yang clueless dan malang, Jill mengajak pembaca bertualang dalam sebuah aksi kejar-kejaran yang ironis dan berantakan. Jika hendak menyimpulkan "rasa" yang ditawarkan buku ini, maka istilah yang diambil salah satu endorser buku ini adalah yang paling tepat; Like a Hole in the Head adalah sebuah buku ber-genre "Slacker-Noir"

  • Michael
    2019-04-19 01:43

    Jill is filling in for the owner of a bookstore when a jittery man comes in and wants a quick sell on a signed Jack London first edition.After checking it out, Jill buys the book and later, another dealer comes to the bookstore and asks if any new books. Jill shows him what she bought and the man buys it from her.Jill is happy and can now afford a Honda she's been wanting. She tells her friend she's ready to buy the vehicle but the jittery man comes back and wants the book back. She tells him she sold it and the man returns with another man who tries to intimidate her.The rest of the book shows Jill's attempt to get the book back while dealing with an assortment of unsavory characters and a man making a movie.Jill lives life to the fullest and has a clever quip for whatever situation she gets into.A lighthearted novel and a fun read.

  • Cathi95
    2019-05-18 20:30

    (Fiction 1998) According to the jacket, this book is "a raucous bumper-car ride . . . with a wickedly hard-boiled female protagonist ..." I really wish I had read that book, because the one within the jacket had a little humor in it, and the female protagonist had no redeeming qualities I could find. She is unlikeable from the beginning and gets worse. Admittedly, awful things are happening to her, but if anyone would be deserving of such back luck, I would definitely nominate her. I'm not sure why I finished it, probably just in hope of finding some of the "satire, slapstick comedy" promised. I did not.

  • Shelly
    2019-04-20 21:54

    Did anyone else notice Jennifer Aniston reading this book in an episode of friends? I had already read it at that point but I was stoked to see it. I read this book in highschool and remember loving the quirky writing style and plot. I think I attempted to read it again a few years later and wasn't as impressed. I used to say this was my favorite book but I have a feeling that might not be so if I read it again. Thinking I'll just keep my romanticized idea of this book ;)

  • Mo
    2019-04-18 23:49

    What's not to love about the adventures of a drunken used book store employee who finds herself in the middle of a rare book thievery fiasco involving former child stars, midgets and Las Vegas?

  • HeavyReader
    2019-05-08 18:52

    This book is a wild ride!It's all about a heavy drinking young woman who works in a used bookstore. There is all kinds of adventure and intrigue and a dwarf! DAMN!I couldn't put this book down and would read it again in a minute.UPDATE: I was so excited when I stumbled across this book in a small town thrift store. I didn’t read this book in years, I hadn’t even thought about it in years. Then there it was, like an old friend you see across a coffee shop in a city where you don’t even live.I paid $1.50 for this hard back copy, and I could hardly wait to read it. I could barely force myself to finish the book I was already reading before I dove into this one.This book has a lot to offer: The protagonist is an emotionally scarred alcoholic with a heart of gold who works in a used bookstore. There’s a borrowed motorcycle as mode of transportation. There’s a trip to Vegas. There are bad guys, and one of them is a dwarf! And the whole mystery, the main conflict of the plot involves a book!This book really needs to be turned into a movie. Why hasn‘t this book been turned into a movie?I like that the supporting characters seem to have real personalities and lives of their own, even though the reader might not learn much about those lives and personalities. None of the characters seemed flat, although this book is definitely plot driven.And yet…Upon rereading this book, I realized I didn’t need to reread it. Everything I was going to get out of it, I got the first time. I didn’t gain any new insights or discover nuances I’d missed the first time.It’s a good story and a good read, but like the old friend in the coffee shop, I found we didn’t have much to say to each other after all the years that had passed.

  • Maddy
    2019-04-27 20:36

    The trouble started when Jill was working at the book store in LA and bought a first edition of a rare Jack London for $25 from a dwarf. Being in dire need of replacing her foot-powered bike with a motorized variety, she sells the gem to a local book dealer, Timmy, for $400. When the dwarf returns accompanied by a giant calling himself “Joke Man” who sets the dwarf’s hair on fire in search for the book, Jill figures she better forget the bike and get the book back.Timmy delivers more and less of what she needs, so she goes to the Antiquarian Book Fair in Vegas to find Timmy and the book. While there, she is abducted by a movie director named John Malcome, who says the book originally belonged to him. It turns out that this is no ordinary first edition; in fact, its value is probably over $200,000. After being drugged, tortured, stealing several vehicles, enlisting aid from innocent bystanders by lying like a rug, shooting a cop in the foot and being used as an extra in a movie, Jill still manages to stumble on. She’s a little bit (ok, a lot) crazy but loyal and tender-hearted. Who else would steal a car to escape from kidnappers but stop to rescue a dog lying in the middle of the street?This book is definitely something different. It’s full of Generation X attitude, smart remarks and skewed views of life. The humor and attitude are omnipresent; it kind of wore me down about three-fourths of the way through the book when Jill was cracking wise while being tortured. The book is like a slapstick homage to Dashiell Hammett, Sam Spade in Bizarro World. It’s a wild ride but a journey well worth taking.

  • Trin
    2019-04-29 22:54

    Cinco recommended this book to me, and it's easy to see why: it's a mystery involving a rare book narrated by a girl who works in a used bookstore in Los Angeles. Really, though, the focus of the novel is not bibliomania; it's the protagonist, and how fucked up she is. Very, in case you didn't guess. Jill is an aimless, smart-mouthed, smart-ass, who tries to keep herself safe by projecting a persona of toughness. I found all of this very relatable (I'm smart-mouthed in my head, okay?), especially coupled with the L.A. setting; even living in Tinseltown, where lots and lots of things are shot, it's still fun to play "I know where THAT is!" whenever familiar locations turn up in films, TV, or books. Jill's narration is very engaging...for about the first third of the book. After that, her string of dumb decisions really starts to grate; it's painful to watch someone be this self-destructive, and while I started out firmly on Jill's side, I eventually just wanted to slap her. I mean, deal with the people trying to kill you first, THEN be emo, okay? There's also a really graphic torture scene near the end of the book, and it just...gah. Squick.Banbury can certainly create interesting characters with dynamic voices, but the world she's put them in is deeply unpleasant. I mean, I guess the same could be said of any noir, but I never wanted to shake Philip Marlowe the way I did Jill. The combination—bleak noir setting + slappable protagonist—just didn't work for me. And yet all of the elements of a perfect "me" book were there, Cinco! Sometimes what's missing is just intangible.

  • Karen Sue
    2019-04-20 20:43

    A book passed on to me by a friend during a vacation when I had read my others, I read it more to justify toting it around than because I really wanted to. Yet its dated charm won me over. The themes aren't dated: loneliness, isolation, confusion and fear, and a yearning to live some kind of authentic, meaningful life. The late twenties-ish character at the end of the twentieth century is easy to identify with, even if she does make some stupid decisions. Books, and the hoarding thereof, are a winning co-star in what's part madcap mystery, part coming-of-age (kind of) and all pretty well written.

  • Harvey
    2019-05-19 17:24

    - I really enjoyed the protagonist in this humorous novel. She's hard-drinking, sarcastic, and intelligent. One of the reviews calls the book "... a slapstick answer to 'The Maltese Falcon'", which I found appropriate.- (from the jacket) "Banbury writes like a wonderfully feminized Dashiel Hammett."- a favourite quote: "That gun could do a lot of damage,..." "They don't seem to do much damage in the movies. A thousand bullets and maybe one hits home. This was different. A genuine shock. I stood in the dark a second, listening to my heart. I put the barrel of the gun in my mouth. My teeth clicked against the metal. It tasted like chicken."

  • Adventurer Rich
    2019-04-24 19:32

    I've read some of the reviews of this book that proclaim that liking the protagonist is impossible. I disagree.I loved this book. It started out a little slow for me, but I preserved. I came to like the protagonist, Jill, very much by the end of the novel. The last 1/4 of the book had me not wanting to put the book down! The action progressed at an increasing pace, and I came to like many of the characters in this story. I have no trepidation recommending this book.I you like a book with realistic characters who you find yourself rooting for, even with their defects... you will love "Like a Hole in the Head". I did.

  • E.J. Runyon
    2019-05-01 18:42

    Here's how it is with this book - looking at the reviews you either love it five-stars worth (and I do), or it's a 1 or 2 star read in your opinion. Me, I consider it one of my best on my shelf, and I bought quite a few copies just to share then with like minded readers I know.There's a subtle storyline in the mix here, dealing with the main character's past, and a secret therein, and the way Jen Banbury plays it out is superb. As an author, myself, who tries for this type of writing gold, I can honestly consider this a small gem the type of story any novelist prays to write.

  • Sean
    2019-05-03 21:25

    This is not a book about trepanation. Nearly every single character made me sick, including our heroine. Yet I could not put it down! It is indeed a downward spiral which starts with a dwarf set on fire. In the din, you do find there are those who are as trustworthy as they are few. The escapade has a faint essence of Hunter S. Thompson (RIP), including the drink and drugs. Know this - once you step into this story, there is no going back. You must go to the end if you want to get back.

  • Asimovian
    2019-05-11 23:47

    I enjoyed the author's style and the somewhat unusual nature of the protagonist, and the way the story started out struck me as rather intriguing. Eventually, though, the story felt like a bit of a mess, and rather than enjoying the ride, I ultimately found myself just wanting to skip ahead to just find out what had actually happened. And while the ending of the book was a surprise I hadn't seen coming, I didn't find it to be a particularly pleasant one. It was almost as though the author thumbed her nose at me for wasting my time.

  • Mfred
    2019-04-29 17:33

    This book is odd-- oddly dark and disturbing, filled with odd characters that do weird things. No one is very likable, but I found myself totally in love with the main character, foibles and all.I loved it and counted it as one of the few books I would lend to people to impress them, until someone I lent it to never gave it back! Now I miss it and am always thinking of how much I would like to re-read it.

  • Nan Hagan
    2019-04-24 00:33

    I loved this book. Read it when it first came out and have read it a couple of times over the years. It's a crazy, wonderful, odd mystery that lurches from place to place and keeps you wondering what the heck is going on. Well-written and fresh and often acerbic. I liked the bite. I check often, hoping the author, Jen Banbury, has written a second mystery. So far, no luck. I consider that a darn shame.

  • Benjamin Siess
    2019-05-12 20:50

    Great female lead in this clever and witty Neo Noir novel. Towards the end, I felt that the author started taking her story a little too seriously. It completely broke with the feel of the rest of the novel's tone. Still, I enjoyed this book so much and have read it 3 times now. I hope this author gives it another try.

  • Alex
    2019-05-17 23:27

    Midgets, Motorcycles, bars, and rare books send the our quirky but loveable female protagonist on a wild ride. The structure is lifted right out of the detective plots of yester-year, but that is part of the book's charm. It never feels dated - only funky fresh. Good fun read. A book you'll wish you'd written.

  • Allison Long
    2019-05-09 22:37

    Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. I can't remember where I got it, only that it was free and had been sitting on my bookshelf for years. The first couple of pages had me thinking this story was going to try too hard, but before I knew it, I was sucked in. This novel is so strange and shifty and tongue-in-cheek, it's difficult not to enjoy!

  • Gregory Frost
    2019-04-23 19:54

    Part-noir, part-narrative by a damaged individual, and full of great oddities, characters, all delivered in a compelling voice, Banbury's book defies categorization, slipstreaming along through Hollywood, LA, bookstores, movie moguls, sociopathic rich boys, Vegas gamblers, and all rendered at breakneck speed.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-07 01:29

    Overall I liked the character of Jill. She is the no nonsense,girl with attitude, tough character that you want to like. The book as a whole gets old after a while with all of its slapstick humor, and off the wall story. I found myself glad to see it ending, and thankful that I didn't spend a lot to read it.

  • Liza Gilbert
    2019-05-14 23:29

    I read this a long time ago, but I remember putting it down and immediately wanting to give it to a dozen people. It is a strange mystery, and the story involves some very unorthodox events, including odd dwarves in a bookstore. Read with caution, but enjoy it for what it is.

  • Dave
    2019-05-13 22:43

    Described as "slacker noir" on the jacket. The protagonist Jill is a slacker chick working in a used bookstore when she falls into a crazy Maltese Falcon-esque escapade. I enjoyed the book, but got a little tired of hard bitten slacker Jill cracking wise all the time.

  • Kennedy
    2019-04-19 18:33

    It was nice to read this while living in Los Angeles. In a way it is another love letter to the strange things that could only happen here. Mobsters, vintage book sellers, everyone's an actor and people do die... and just lucky to be so close to Las Vegas. Fun read. Quick.