Review: HOW BEST TO AVOID DYING

How Best To Avoid Dying by Owen Egerton
Reviewed by Andrew Hilbert

Owen Egerton is one of the best writers operating today and, holy cow, he’s an Austinite. One of the creators of the Sinus Show and Master Pancake Theater, Owen is known to be a funnyman to most locals. He’s also a fine writer.

Each story in this collection is a gem. They are funny, often absurd with dark turns, and as a whole collection, extremely satisfying. Throughout each of Egerton’s books, I’ve noticed a strong Vonnegut feel, but after reading How Best to Avoid Dying he’s also quite in line with George Saunders. But don’t let those comparisons fool you, Egerton is a unique voice all his own.

Egerton takes the reader through Waffles Houses, spelling bees, vacation Bible camps, and sex cults with horrifying and hilarious results. How Best to Avoid Dying, although originally released 7 years ago, is not dated at all. The stories are timeless and enlightening in their absurdity. There are 4 brand spanking new stories in this collection so, even if you have the old edition, the cover price for the re-release is absolutely worth it.

The interesting thing about Owen’s writing is that you feel like the characters are sitting there with you and their stories unfold right before you. There’s a theatrical style about his prose and when he’s reading live, he’s not afraid to show it. BookPeople was recently treated to a dramatized reading of one of his stories and it was brilliant. To enjoy his stories though, you don’t have to be sitting in an audience watching him perform them. His writing feels like a performance; it’s an exciting and electrifying experience.

I’ve been lucky to get to know Owen Egerton as a fellow writer and a friend but before I knew him, I was a fan. The first novel of Egerton’s that I read was The Book of Harold and from then on, I was hooked. Owen should be a national sensation and I’m sure he will be. Read his books now before he goes all Franzen on us.

BookPeople has signed copies of The Book of Harold, Everyone Says That At the End of the World, and How Best to Avoid Dying. If I were you, I’d get them all but if you’re on a budget, How Best to Avoid Dying is as good a place to start as any.

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Signed copies of all of Owen Egerton’s books are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. We ship all over the world. 

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