In this novel, written in verse, each brief chapter introduces a different character, living in a different era, sometimes in a different city. The effect is mesmerizing, as both the cadence of the couplets and the connections that link the characters become more established and familiar. Rakoff (Half-Empty), a frequent This American Life contributor and winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, who died in the summer of 2012, combines his wit and his gravity for an unexpected blend of uncomfortable rhymes that build into recognizable stories. In one of the most intriguing chapters, Helen is a secretary seduced by her boss and then transferred once she needs an abortion: “She asked if he’d ever again say Hello,/ Fedora’d and coated and ready to go/ He took a step backward as if sensing danger/ And fixed her with eyes of a cold-blooded stranger.” Astounding, too, is how effectively an entire century is captured in these slices of daily life—how each era both defines and inspires those within its grasp. Agent: Irene Skolnick, Irene Skolnick Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013 Release date: 07/16/2013 Genre: Fiction
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