Life Among Giants (Paperback)

By Bill Roorbach

Algonquin Books, 9781616203245, 352pp.

Publication Date: August 20, 2013

List Price: 14.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

December 2012 Indie Next List

“Roorbach has given readers a totally unique family saga that is infused with love, sex, and murder. This is the kind of story that takes you on a journey from the very first page and races right along to the unforgettable conclusion. I was drawn in by the characters, both sympathetic and despicable. This is a great book to recommend to everyone.”
— Barbara Kelly, Portland Bookstore, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
View the List


This funny, exuberant novel captures the reader with the grand sweep of seven-foot-tall David "Lizard" Hochmeyer's larger-than-life quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents' deaths. It's a journey laden with pro football stars, a master chef and his beautiful transvestite lover, a world-famous ballerina and her English rocker husband, and a sister who's as brilliant as she is unstable. A wildly entertaining, plot-twisting novel of murder, seduction, and revenge--rich in incident, expansive in character, and lavish in setting--Life Among Giants is an exhilarating adventure.

Editors' pick for Amazon's Best of 2012

Shelf Awareness
Top Ten Best Fiction of 2012

Columbus Dispatch
's Top Books of 2012

Conversation Starters from

  1. Who are the giants of the title? Is Lizard one of them, or is he merely an observer and chronicler? What is life among these giants like for Lizard? How have they steered his life? And how has he resisted them?
  2. Why do you think Sylphide is so attracted to Lizard, and why, throughout their lives, does she keep him at arm’s length? In what ways does he differ from the men she chooses to marry?
  3. What is the draw of the High Side for each of the members of the ?Hochmeyer family? Is it something different for each one? Is there an equal repulsion for each? Who pays the highest price?
  4. Where would you place the root cause of the Hochmeyer family’s problems? Is it Dad’s insecurity and posing? Kate’s troubled questing? Mom’s chilly withholding? Or does it lie with Lizard himself? The Hochmeyer family has a lot of secrets, and a lot of alliances among its members. What are the secrets, and who knows what? And who shares what with whom?
  5. How did your opinions of the characters in Life Among Gi-ants shift as you read? Were there any characters you started out mistrusting but ending up liking? Any characters you started out liking and ended up mistrusting? Any you held a steady regard or dislike for?
  6. Is Lizard’s father truly bad? Or is he an insecure person trying to build himself up? Is he being manipulated by stronger forces, or is he an operator, looking out for himself?
  7. Lizard connects with a number of women in the book, yet he seems to pick loves who aren’t truly available. What’s that all about?
  8. Emily is very important to Lizard, yet she doesn’t offer herself to him very fully. Why does he hold her in such high regard? What role does she play in his development and in the devel-opment of the story?
  9. How would you describe Lizard’s relationship with Linsey? What about Sylphide’s relationship with him, and Kate’s? What is Linsey’s role in the story?
  10. Lizard takes warmly to Etienne and RuAngela. Why do you think this odd couple appeals to him?
  11. From the first paragraph to the last climactic moments, food plays a big part in Life Among Giants. What is the role of food in the narrative?
  12. Why does Sylphide choose death in the end? Hasn’t she every reason to live?
  13. What do you think Kate and Dabney’s relationship was really like? Was it one based on love or was it based on something else?
  14. Life Among Giants is not a traditional mystery, nor is it a traditional bildungsroman. How does it depart from the con-ventions of each genre? How does the story of this young man’s growth interconnect with his quest to find the killers?