cover image Zinsky the Obscure

Zinsky the Obscure

Ilan Mochari. Fomite (, $19 trade paper (358p) ISBN 978-1-937677-11-4

This eloquent novel from Mochari probes an angry young man's struggles with identity and emotional stability after an abusive childhood. When 30-year-old New Yorker Ariel Zinsky isn't indulging in marijuana, spectator sports, and masturbation, he thinks of writing his memoir. Marriage and fatherhood are his two big taboos, prisms through which he rationalizes his anti-social behavior. His crude father Robert, a software executive, abused Ariel and his passive mother Barbara, a high-school teacher, for years. After his parents divorce, Ariel turns to his mother for a "true best friend" before leaving home for the University of Michigan. Meanwhile Barbara dates and eventually marries Neil, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, and Ariel gains a loyal confidante in step-sister Nicole. At college, Ariel slaves away to make an NFL draft guide lucrative, wrecks his first relationship with jealousy, and almost drowns his cancer-ridden father. His next two attempts at relationships, first with a well-grounded Harvard student and later with an older lawyer, also fail, stemming from Ariel's intractable unwillingness to commit. By the age of 30, the unlikable Zinsky has built himself a shallow, sterile existence with little prospects of future joy. Mochari's debut novel is both bleak and affecting. (Apr.)