Philip Galanes, Author . Knopf $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4160-2

Matthew Vaber's father shot himself in the head. It's with this jarring bit of information that Galanes begins his first novel, which examines grief, relationships and self-reproach in a marvelously witty and winsome voice. While living in New York, Matthew racks up hefty phone bills dialing 555-PUMP, "New York's only phone line for men who are serious about their bodies." All it takes is a simple press of a key to be automatically connected to someone new, and Matthew leaves behind a trail of "victims of the pressed pound key," determined to find someone who is interested in him for something other than sex. Meanwhile, he keeps his shrink apprised of his fixation, knowing he's expected to somehow connect his behavior to his father's death. After Matthew is attacked during a Pump Line encounter gone wrong, he travels to Darien, Conn., to visit his uncle. Excited at the prospect of meeting a crop of posh, suburban Pump Line users, he dials up from his uncle's phone and eventually happens upon Henry, who is also from New York and visiting Darien. Henry is his "it" guy in every way, but is he too perfect? Matthew begins to feel like a caged animal even before their second date and naturally turns to the Pump Line again, along with the Downtown Club, a monument to anonymous casual sex. As he makes discoveries about himself and his family, Matthew comes to the unsettling conclusion that he might be the story's most "unreliable witness," which just might change his perception of his relationship with Henry and his response to his father's death. Galanes paints his characters with a light veneer of despair and an oftentimes tongue-in-cheek sentimentality in this appealingly hang-dog debut. Agent, Betsy Lerner. (June 1)

Forecast: Galanes's feel for the zeitgeist and his telephone fixation may remind readers of Julie Hecht's cultish novel The Unprofessionals (2003), and should appeal to a similar audience. The cable-knit sweater image on the jacket is fittingly quirky.

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Show other formats
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-4000-7529-4
Open Ebook - 213 pages - 978-0-307-42588-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-01730-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.