The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories

Peter Levine, Author
Peter Levine. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-250-00122-1
Reviewed on: 05/07/2012
Release date: 08/07/2012
Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-250-00833-6
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-1-250-03134-1
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At the center of Levine’s excellent debut story collection is Tom Mahoney, a young Chicago salesman with career aspirations. We follow Tom’s interactions through the eyes of friends and associates: in “Our Hero David Katz,” the awkward business student who tries to impress his friends with wild tales of his fictional brother’s globe-trotting exploits; or Tom’s neighbors, the fathers in “Princess,” who, on a camping trip with their daughters, cross a delicate line. While the subjects are diverse, Tom remains the focus: his first love with a troubled older woman; his reluctant entry into the business world; being used and abandoned by women. Though a lost soul whom happiness and success eludes, to other men Tom embodies masculinity, sexual prowess, and bottomless sociability. Emasculated by modern life, these men need to believe in some fount of virility and independence. Though overly sentimental about the lost “heroes” of upper-middle-class manhood, Levine’s stories are riveting and subtle, shot through with a muted wisdom and palpable compassion. He chronicles Tom’s new lost generation: privileged millennials who grow up to find that life is always elsewhere. Agent: Jill Kneerim, Kneerim & Williams. (July)
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