Life among the rich and twisted proves to be a difficult road to adulthood for young Finn Earl in Wittenborn's lurid and often bizarre coming-of-age yarn, which begins when the adolescent's unstable mother, Liz, a New York City massage therapist, befriends a rich older client named Osborne. The friendship looks like a good deal when Osborne rescues the pair from poverty, spiriting them away to his estate in the elite New Jersey suburb of Vlyvalle. Finn gets a romantic bonus when he falls for Osborne's sexy granddaughter, Maya; he also befriends her odd but erudite brother, Bryce. But the dark side of easy street surfaces when Finn is attacked and raped by an unknown assailant, and his romance comes apart at the seams when Maya catches him in flagrante with the family maid. The novel turns downright strange during a pivotal house fire when Finn is hailed as a hero after tumbling from a window with Maya's mother, who survives the blaze despite some serious injuries. Finn's part-time job sorting through Osborne's extensive photo library provides several clues about the possible identity of his attacker, and the underbelly of the Osborne clan gets exposed in a big way during a series of confrontations among Finn, Bryce, Maya and her grandfather. Wittenborn offers plenty of unusual spins on the usual coming-of-age formula, and his eclectic, idiosyncratic characters provide plenty of entertainment. Some overplotting in the final sections dulls the impact of the over-the-top ending, but this peek behind the scenes of a wealthy family remains novel and fascinating from start to finish. (July 1)
Forecast:Blurbs from a who's who of glam writers—Dominick Dunne, Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, among others—stud this comeback novel by Wittenborn (his last, Zoe, was published in 1983). The story of his hiatus—wild life, drug abuse and major heart surgery—makes him an appealing interview and feature story candidate. With movie rights sold to Griffin Dunne, and Bloomsbury planning a massive publicity campaign, including an author tour, Wittenborn could be poised for a bright lights, big city breakout.
Release date: 07/01/2002