cover image Crazy Sorrow

Crazy Sorrow

Vince Passaro. Simon & Schuster, $27 (464p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4510-4

In Passaro’s ambitious second novel (after Violence, Nudity, Adult Content), four decades of American life are explored through two characters who meet on July 4, 1976, as America celebrates its bicentennial. As fireworks burst over Lower Manhattan, Columbia student George Langland, almost 20, meets Barnard student Anna Goff, and they begin an intense but short-lived affair. The novel tracks their separate paths as Anna becomes a high-powered attorney with a white shoe firm and George drifts from job to job until he partners with Burke, who owns a coffee truck and has a vision, which he ultimately turns into an empire of 2,670 coffee bars, making himself and George incredibly wealthy in the process. Both George and Anna marry, divorce, and have numerous relationships with men and women, but they never entirely forget one another until chance finally throws them together again in 2000. Passaro uses George and Anna and their friends—Arthur, a photographer, and Louis, a playwright who writes an Angels in America–like play about AIDS—to dramatize the changes in American life from the 1970s to the present. Filled with memorable scenes and characters, this has plenty of pithy things to say about sex, love, and relationships. The result is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. (Sept.)