A Listening Thing

. . . . . . A Contemporary Novel by William Michaelian . . . . . .
Preface to the First Complete Online Edition
When A Listening Thing was first accepted for publication back in May 2001, I never dreamed the book might not materialize according to my publisher�s promise, and that I would eventually have to publish it myself online. And yet, life being the strange thing that it is, this is exactly what has happened. Those of you who have followed this sordid tale already know what I�m talking about. If, on the other hand, you are a relatively new or first-time visitor, and would like to learn about my ordeal, you can read the four publication updates in News and Reviews, beginning with October 21, 2003, and then moving up the page. Or, you can skip it and go straight to the novel. The choice is yours. Chapter links can be found on the right side of this page, as well as an e-mail link for you to give your comments, which, barring profanity and rudeness, I will post on a separate page. An e-mail link will also be included with each chapter.

I am very proud of this novel. I strongly believe in the story it tells. As suggested by the �jacket copy� and short reviews below, it is down to earth, serious, and full of hope and life-giving humor. It is simple, straightforward, entertaining, and easy to read. It also challenges readers by asking them to pay attention and think. As such, I honestly believe that from its humble beginning here in cyberspace, it will demand to be heard, and to be published and distributed in book form. I am biased, of course. Ultimately, the future of A Listening Thing is in your hands � as it should be, as I have wanted and expected it to be all along.
William Michaelian, Salem, Oregon, December 1, 2003

About the Novel
How do we face life�s seemingly insurmountable problems? For Stephen Monroe, an unsuccessfully self-employed typesetter still in love with his ex-wife, Mary, the only acceptable thing to do is to hang in there and fight � for love, for what he believes in, and for the voice inside him that�s struggling to be heard.

With humor and grace, A Listening Thing reveals the crumbling world of a talented man finally learning to face himself and the many mistakes he has made. Leaving behind the shabby desolation of his apartment for a weekend visit with Mary at his mother�s home, Stephen finds hope, and discovers love is more generous than he�d ever expected.

What Others Are Saying � Short Reviews
�As the title suggests, the reader spends her time listening to the thoughts of Stephen, a divorced, semi-self-employed typesetter living on the edge of solvency. But who is this guy? He comes across as part Walter Mitty, part Dostoyevskian underground man and mostly a nebbish and loser. His self-absorption, ability to dwell on the minutiae of his life, and habit of taking his emotional pulse over and over may be more than most readers can bear. But in spite of this, Michaelian�s narrator is remarkably appealing and engaging � not exactly charming but someone to whom we wish well. He has never stopped loving his ex-wife, for instance, and their teenage son is a source of great pride even though his lack of ambition and income leaves him feeling unworthy of them. Then a weekend trip to Stephen�s mother�s place with his ex-wife (because Mom never accepted the divorce) holds possibilities. Love or further failure? This is a strange novel: tricky to read, hard to put down.�
Danise Hoover, from Booklist
Copyright � American Library Association. All rights reserved

�. . . William Michaelian, by using first-person, immediately brings the reader into [Stephen] Monroe�s world. The reader is introduced into the confusing world of this loser. There is such a humanness to Monroe, as he spends his time arguing with himself. And he introduces us to characters that we feel obligated to laugh at, as Monroe does, or to look below the surface, because Monroe does. Take his view of his apartment neighbor, Ernie: �When the world looks at Ernest Taylor, it sees a seedy guy with a scraggly gray beard, wearing a sweat-stained baseball cap. . . . It sees a guy who is going nowhere, and has no prospects. It sees these things because that�s what it wants to see. . . . What it misses is a man who is extremely well-read with a keen sense of humor. But, labels are easy. Slap a label on something or someone, then it becomes unnecessary to think. Thinking is work. . . .��
Elizabeth King Humphrey, from The Compulsive Reader

�Stephen�s resilient nature, causing him to carry on even though he doesn�t know how to or why, provides the opportunity for things to improve. Resiliency figures in all the characters� lives in one form or another. . . . As trite as it can sound, it is easy to discount our capacity for endurance as well as the ability to shape ourselves.�
� Chrees, from A Common Reader

�With its insight into the human condition, coupled with a sly and delicious wit, A Listening Thing reveals author William Michaelian for what he is: a topnotch storyteller, amusingly accurate social commentator, and an immensely gifted and talented writer. His is a delightful new voice rising above the sorry pyscho-babble that is the current condition of American literature. It�s a voice that will be heard.�
Tim Hinshaw, editor and columnist

�William Michaelian�s novel, A Listening Thing, is three books in one. First, it�s a tale of a middle-aged man trying to find his inner self amidst the conflicts and confusion of both his past and the world around him. Second, it�s a sweet, romantic love story. And third, the book is an invaluable compendium of the author�s crazy and accurate observations regarding people, society, life, and the universe. Roll it all up and it spells MARVELOUS.�
John Berbrich, editor and publisher

�Michaelian�s short stories never fail to impress me with their interesting characters and story lines. I was not surprised, therefore, to find myself caught up in the life of Stephen Monroe. He and the other characters in A Listening Thing are immensely believable, as are their situations. This is an author whose works I love reading.�
Rebecca Hillan, former prose editor, The Rockford Review

A Listening Thing: cover design by Steven Zahavi Schwartz, drawing of Uncle Leo by William Michaelian

� A Listening Thing �
A Novel by William Michaelian

Copyright � 2003
by William Michaelian

� Dedication �
For wives and mothers everywhere,
especially my own;
For those just learning to listen;
For my old friend, Uncle Leo,
whose mustache grows and grows.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24

Post Your Comments
View Comment Page

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

Main Page
Author�s Note
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Let�s Eat
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
Flippantly Answered Questions
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Top of Page