The Big Town

Monte Schulz. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (494p) ISBN 978-1-60699-503-7
Businessman Harry Hennessy craves power and respect, but he’ll settle for enough money to get by. All he needs is a big break (and to stop bedding every round-heeled floozy he meets on the road). In the summer of 1929, when Harry’s local prospects have run dry, he sends his wife and children to stay with relatives, sells the family home, and uses the proceeds to rent office and warehouse space from a pillar of the community in “the city”—a fictional composite that feels distinctly Midwestern. However, Harry gets distracted by a girl half his age who takes him on wild adventures in seedy, often dangerous parts of the city. He soon discovers she’s supposedly his wealthy landlord’s missing niece and vies for the finder’s fee, until he realizes there’s more to the story. While well-researched, the novel’s 1920s-period slang, one-dimensional character “types,” and laborious, descriptive passages combine to make the novel feel contrived. In trying to emulate Dos Passos or Fitzgerald, Schulz (This Side of Jordan) unfortunately writes prose so purple that the sentences feel bruised. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 444 pages - 978-1-60699-516-7
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