Read The Cost of Living by Rob Roberge Online


Bud Barrett, a moderately famous punk guitarist with an infamously wild past, struggles to decipher a murder he witnessed as a child, that may have led to his mother's disappearance. Only his father, a man with his own tumultuous history of violence and addiction, has the answers Bud--now on the brink of divorce and finally, if tenuously, sober--needs....

Title : The Cost of Living
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781938604300
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 285 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Cost of Living Reviews

  • Patrick O'Neil
    2019-04-10 21:24

    On the plane, heading back from NYC, five hours into the flight and I hit "St. Jude's," the stunning last chapter of Rob Roberge's latest novel, The Cost Of Living. I've got the headphones on and I'm listening to The National's Cherry Tree EP and Roberge's prose is hitting me hard. His protagonist, Bud Berrett, has been on a heavy downward decline for the last 244 pages. The fucking guy's killing me, and I just want to smack him so he'll wake up before he loses everything – but that's just not going to happen. I'm swallowing feelings of sadness and remorse, turning the pages as I read. And then Matt Berninger, The National's monotone lead singer, starts up "About Today" and it's like the saddest most beautiful love song in the entire fucking universe of saddest most beautiful love songs. "how close am I…to losing you…"I reach down and hit repeat on my iPod as I've never experienced a more perfect union of text and music. And then I'm good to go for the final 46 pages. Only I don't want this book to end, and certainly not before the plane lands. I mean shit, I'll have to watch bad cable TV or wake up Jenn, and she's not going to be happy about that, she just got to sleep. But really it's Roberge's best book to date. I think this is like my third time through. I'd read the rough drafts, and then something that was somewhat closer to what I'm reading now – only none of them can touch the quality he's achieved here with the book I'm holding in my hands. "how close am I…to losing you…"And yeah, I did say the last chapter was stunning, but it's the coup de grâce to a stunning book. And now here's the disclaimer – Rob's a good friend of mine, I fucking love the guy, but I wouldn't just be all "great book, dude" if I thought it sucked – which it definitely doesn't – and I have no trouble being brutally honest when I don't like shit. Hell, people already hate me, what do I care? Only this is not the case here.The Cost Of Living's writing is as beautiful as its subject matter is devastating. The collateral damage from addiction, mental health, and family play enormous roles in people's lives. And in the hands of Roberge it makes for an intense captivating read. I read it in one sitting on that Virgin America flight and closed the book as we were descending into SFO. I must have looked all misty eyed, because when the stewardess woke Jenn up to fasten her seatbelt, Jenn looked over at me and asked if anything was wrong. And I had no words for her, just shook my head, and hoped we didn’t crash, because I wanted to tell Rob how good I thought his book was. Do yourself a favor, pick upThe Cost Of Living, and then go to his website:, and download the accompanying soundtrack Rob recorded, and then read the book.

  • Caleb Ross
    2019-04-21 19:24

    Click the image to watch my video reviewThe Cost of Living will easily make my top 10 of 2013 list.I've read all of Roberge’s work, all that I’m aware of (Drive [novel], More than they Could Chew [novel], Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life [stories]) and I’d read anything else in the future. He’s one of my favorite writers, so you know, having the history I do, you can trust my words.To read The Cost of Living is to read the rock and roll story that everyone’s always wanted, but could never find; there’s too much glitter and groupies, too much ego in other rock and roll stories. With The Cost of Living, you’re forced to deal with, and ultimately fall in love with, a life that’s been destroyed by the stage. Every rock and roll story you've read before will seem cliche compared to The Cost of Living.

  • Ben
    2019-03-27 23:25

    The traumas visited upon us when we are young, and the adverse experiences that blanket our childhoods do not go away with time.More -

  • Gordon
    2019-04-06 19:17

    It refused to be put down. I read it in one day—one itchy, bloodshot, selfish, nostalgic, regretful, guilty, euphoric, and glorious day.

  • Larry H
    2019-04-01 17:17

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars."The dumbest junkie I've ever met could do the quickest math imaginable about how much they had left and how long it could and would last. We can shift metric to standard in our heads and we can tally up the numbers of pills in our pockets faster than a room full of MIT grads with calculators."Bud Barrett should know better than anyone what it's like to be a junkie. He's spent a good part of his adult life completely high, thinking about getting high, figuring out how long his high is going to last and how to maintain it, and recovering from being high. Amazingly, during a good amount of this time, Bud has been a well-known indie guitarist and singer, part of a band that achieved some renown (and even more after he left). But the siren call of drugs has led him down an increasingly self-destructive path, causing him to do things he never thought he'd do, and hurt himself in ways non-addicts couldn't even imagine."I'd crossed so many ethical lines I said I would never cross in my life. I'd become a man I couldn't recognize more times than I could ever count."Bud's mother committed suicide when he was young, and his relationship with his father has been strained since he witnessed a shocking crime he never quite understood. And those two relationships have haunted him, driven him toward drugs and thoughts of suicide, and given him some thought of redemption at times as well. When Bud meets smart, sassy, responsible Olivia, for the first time in his life he wants to be sober, wants to savor the moment instead of drowning in it drugs. But will the pull of his addiction be stronger than true love?Rob Roberge's The Cost of Living is a beautiful, almost poetic book which is brutally frank in its depiction of the daily struggles of a drug addict. Bud is a man with everything—talent, brains, drive, love—but he can't keep from putting himself in harm's way, literally putting his life at risk hour after hour, day after day. The book shifts back and forth through different times in Bud's life—sometimes he's deep in the throes of addiction, sometimes he's clean, sometimes he's somewhere in between—and it follows him as he deals with problems both ordinary and bizarre. He finds and loses love because of his addiction, he's financially secure and penniless, he's with old friends and drug friends he barely knows.At its heart, this is a book about relationships. All the paths in Bud's life lead him back to his estranged father, a man whose love Bud craved yet a man he also wanted to destroy at times. Yet the answers he seeks from his father could either set him free or set him back on a path of self-destruction, and he's not certain which he'd rather it be."My next overdose could be my last, and I wasn't sure I was too scared by that anymore."I was absolutely captivated by Roberge's storytelling. Although the shifts in time took a little orienting, Bud is such a vivid character and his persona, both high and sober, is so well-drawn, that even as you're disgusted by him and pity him and think he might be better off dead, you can't help reading about him. The Cost of Living is tremendously well-written and utterly compelling. One hell of a read.

  • Heather
    2019-04-02 18:36

    So many books play it safe. Even those within literary fiction, a "genre" known for exploring more complicated subject matter, the novels tend to play to the expectations and sensibilities of the general reader. They may push boundaries, but they do so in a way that still communicates to the reader that they won't break any contracts, when it all said and done, even if there is no happy ending, you (dear reader) will feel like a better person for having read the book. You will be granted a deeper perspective on the world. You feel good, even if the material was dark or hard to read.The Cost of Living makes so such contract and even if it did, it would be the word of a junkie and we learn early on that isn't worth shit. This is a beautiful, terrible, wrenching, powerful, deeply complicated and compelling novel. Bravo to Other Voices for publishing this work. This novel challenged me, it hurt me, it left me feeling empty at times and bursting at others. I finished it last week and it is still lingering with me. Roberge has a gift for delivering story without pretense, without a directive to the reader about how to feel about that material, and it allowed me to open myself to the story in a totally new way.

  • RandomAnthony
    2019-03-31 19:25

    Even if you're not up front and center with drug use you probably know a bit about addiction's language/process. One day at a time and all that. And, as Barrett, Mr. Roberge's hollowed-out musician main character says in an interview, "there's a danger in talking about addiction. It doesn't make you special or cool." There's also an irony (I think, I get nervous when using the word irony) in slipping that line into a 220 page book focusing largely on, uh, addiction. Roberge builds a distance between the user cliches and addict self-talk/observations, creating a more layered, less preachy scenario than one might expect. He's strongest when Bud's self-talk spins its wheels. He contextualizes depression and hopelessness well. But this book strains under the weight of wanting to send deep, personal messages without painful literary self-awareness. It's tight, and not always in a good way. My friend Paul loved this book but I can only say I liked it in the "damned by faint praise" vein. Paul's got a good eye, however, and maybe I'm in on the ground floor of a grass-roots, passed-by-hand sensation. Maybe I'm too harsh. I yield to others' perspective.

  • Eli Hastings
    2019-04-15 15:15

    I fell in love with Rob Roberge when I fell in love with dark, gritty, emotionally courageous short fiction. His book, Working Backwards From the Worst Moment in My Life, sits among the seven or eight collections I reach for if I want to blow some youngster's mind with the potential power of short form literature. So I was giddy to get to see him perform with Sean Beaudoin, Josh Mohr and others at AWP. And I bought his novel right away. The Cost of Living doesn't really give a F if you like it or not. Like the protagonist, the novel itself feels unconcerned with anything besides telling the bloody, snotty, horrendous truth about addict's life. Yes, we've been here before. But what we haven't seen before is an author that can write with authority, uniqueness and lyrical beauty about the subject and, on the same page, write an erotic scene that is just as gritty and yet--unlike the mainlining of OxyContin--stunningly beautiful. Roberge does not make you want to shoot dope. He does, however, make you want to have kinky sex in a walk-in freezer. And, more importantly, he makes you want to make sure you never slip like his protagonist does. And he makes sure you know that there is always hope. This book made me nauseous, made me cry, laugh and made me reevaluate how well I was loving those closest to me. There were a few moments of editorial misstep, a few times when the debauchery felt overdone, but they were vastly overshadowed by the alchemical experience of riding this plot.

  • Endless Warner
    2019-04-02 23:10

    I bought this book after I met Rob at a reading my friend, Duke, was doing at Stories. I was blown away by the excerpt of Liar he read, so I grabbed this book to tide me over til Liar's release. I read this book in a week, barely putting it down, even while on a coffee date with a friend. I was enamoured with the "misadventures" of Bud, but also falling in love since this is what I usually do with troubled addicts. I could go on with this review and tell you how fucking beautiful Rob uses words to tell this story, but I feel like the most important thing I can say about The Cost of Living is that it gave me closure. There is a person in my life that spent a portion of my life addicted to a drug and because of that, this person disappeared for a while during my early years, which left me with adult insecurities wondering why this drug was so much more important and what I could do to be a better person or love this person more. Reading this book gave me an insight and the ability to forgive those years and put away a lifetime of demons. By the end of this book, I was in tears.

  • Benoit Lelièvre
    2019-04-04 22:19

    Think of THE COST OF LIVING as a your run-off-the-mill 80s rock star memoir meets your melancholic Fitzgeraldesque literary author. It had every reason to charm me and it sure did. Bud Barrett is a songwriting genius, yet a wandering loser who cannot seem to get over the drama of his early teenager years. His mother committed suicide without apparent reason and his father killed a man in front of his eyes. That was enough to send Bud into a life of longing for things he cannot have.THE COST OF LIVING was really good, maybe a little less than DRIVE, his basketball novel (I'm a huge basketball fan, so take this with a grain of salt) because the fragmented parts don't all necessarily add up to something bigger than the sum of its parts. Sometimes, Bud gets fucked up just to get fucked up. But there are some transcendent moments to THE COST OF LIVING. Roberge writes about music and about the love of music like no one else. There is kind of a sneaky plotline you don't really see coming also, which will make genre fans coo with pleasure. Great rock n' roll novel.

  • Steven Wilson
    2019-03-23 23:16

    Gut wrenching and painful one minute, and darkly funny the next, the story of Bud Barrett, cult rock star and junkie, reads like a manual on how to steal defeat from the jaws of success. The situations in which Bud finds himself in order to feed his addiction are frightening, dangerous, and many times hilariously funny. Author Rob Roberge does a fantastic job of balancing pain and despair with a sense of humor. With all of the damage sustained by Bud Barrett throughout the story, self inflicted and otherwise, by the end of The Cost Of Living I was still left with a sense of hope for redemption.

  • Judi
    2019-04-03 17:35

    This book tore me up, much like being drawn to watching a train wreck. I alternated between wanting to pitch this book out the window and creeping back for another read. I admit that I have come to view the world through a Norman Rockwell/Thomas Kinkadian lense. Age and being an old hippie has a tendancy to have that effect on one. Nah. Band life couldn't possibly be that debauched and dark. Could it?? Life as an addict. Yeah. Touched a lot of nerves. Rob Roberge is a very good writer, I think???

  • Kate Maruyama
    2019-04-13 17:16

    Roberge's writing is always stunning, and this book is no exception with its gritty descriptions, careful sentences and inimitable details. But this book really reached in and wrenched the reader--I had so much stake in Bud, so that when he stumbled or went so aggressively down the wrong path it was terrifying and painful and had me shaking my fist at the guy. The reunion tour near killed me for its hope, despair, thrumming of pain and inevitability. But while Bud's path breaks your heart, Roberge gives us redemption and hope that even the most lost might find their way.

  • Elizabeth Earley
    2019-04-07 23:34

    Roberge does the gory, unrelentingly visceral drug addiction scene like he invented it. I thought it was impossible to write about these topics in a fresh way, but the honest and spare prose shuttled me right into the middle of Bud's horrifying world like it was new. I've never winced so many times reading a novel — it's the winciest novel I've read (even more so than Brett Easton Ellis novels). And the sex scenes are... truly inspiring.

  • Luis Correa
    2019-04-04 21:36

    This is some good, crazy shit. Although some of the chapters seem a little out of place (I suspect that has something to do with Roberge having written some great short stories that he really wanted to fit into in a novel) and a few of sentences fall victim to a "writerly" turn of phrase, the novel packs an emotional punch. It's like a grittier, nuttier A Visit from the Goon Squad. Also, has some good music and sex writing, both of which are difficult to do well.

  • Tyler Mcmahon
    2019-04-02 22:21

    Like a great alt-country tune, The Cost of Living is a rhythmic, jangling ride through addiction, lost loves, and busted hands. Roberge possesses a rare and irresistible voice: arresting, sincere, wounded, and cautionary. Nobody's done a better job showing the dark side of the rock-and-roll dream. Narrator Bud Barrett belongs on the top shelf of literature's big-hearted low-lifes, alongside Bukowski's Henry Chinaski and Denis Johnson's Fuckhead.

  • Antonia Crane
    2019-04-19 18:20

    Rob Roberge massages the most glaring human flaws like addiction, desperation and aching desire into something that twinkles and sings. He's one of the most exciting authors today and "Cost of Living" is a brutal, heart-stabbing book that is leaps and bounds above his other—also gorgeous—work. This is a must read for anyone who breathes.

  • Patty
    2019-03-28 22:23

    If you're into drug memoirs, this is a well-written, compelling novel that reads like a memoir. Don't get turned off by the first chapter... if you keep reading, you'll find that it's hard to put down.

  • Yennie
    2019-04-09 23:25

    I try not to review books by people I know, but holy hell was this good! I'm honored to have been taught by him.

  • Kristi
    2019-03-27 22:38

    Hard to read about Bud's life but really well written. He got a little weepy for me at the end but overall good read.

  • Robb
    2019-04-14 18:20

    Hear my full review on my podcast:

  • Liz Cowgill
    2019-03-30 22:26

    Kind of hard to read at times. The ending is a complete flip out. Ultimately, I did like it.

  • Megan
    2019-03-31 19:17

    Beautiful, heartbreaking.

  • Richard Thomas
    2019-04-10 20:09

    What a wild ride. Full review coming soon.

  • Art Edwards
    2019-04-17 16:25

    Review forthcoming...

  • Bookedpodcast
    2019-04-20 17:18

    Hear our complete review on our website:

  • Elliott
    2019-03-31 23:34

    This novel was amazing, beautiful, profound and poignant. Definitely one of the best novels I've read in recent memory.