Neon in Daylight

Hermione Hoby. Catapult (PGW, dist), $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-936787-75-3
An Englishwoman named Kate arrives in contemporary New York with no plan and no prospects in Hoby’s promising debut novel. Kate has abandoned her PhD program and boyfriend, so disillusioned that “speaking anything out loud” has come to “feel like an audacity.” She finds two accomplices to the reinvention she seeks: Inez, a teenager Kate befriends after Inez confuses her for someone looking to buy Adderall, and Inez’s washed-up novelist father, Bill. Kate remains ignorant of their familial link even as the drugs Inez introduces her to fuel Kate and Bill’s “mutual seduction.” Though Hoby relies on a well-trod conceit in mirroring Kate’s quest for self-actualization with her exploration of New York, her sharp distillations of the demands the city makes of people energize the book’s familiar beats. Most memorable is Inez’s side hustle of fulfilling the fantasies of “Craigslist perverts,” surprising encounters that compensate for the more predictable moments. Indeed, even as a collision between Kate’s friendship and love affair becomes inevitable, Hoby wisely avoids posing the necessary confrontations as a resolution to Kate’s problems. This is a sharp novel with perceptive observations (at a gallery, “there’s something religious-looking about iPhones raised en masse”) and vivid, complicated relationships. Agent: Marya Spence, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
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