The Blizzard Party

Jack Livings. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-28053-6
Livings, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize winner for the story collection The Dog, returns with a brilliant debut novel centering on a woman’s memories of a fatal blizzard that occurred in her childhood. Hazel Saltwater determines to rewrite the story of Albert Caldwell’s death after a party during the historic blizzard of 1978 in New York City when Hazel was six. (Her father, Erwin, has already published a blockbuster autobiographical novel about it called The Blizzard Party.) Hazel pieces together backstories of the pivotal players who attended the party, including the neurotic Erwin, transformed by guilt over a WWII experience; Caldwell, an astute lawyer plotting his suicide before succumbing to dementia; Turk Brunn, who runs an amusement park where visitors sign up to experience various forms of simulated abuse; and Turk’s father, Lazlo, a linguistic virtuoso whose research inadvertently made him psychotic. Livings’s genius resides in his ability to weave these disparate threads together through banal events (a Christmas tree jammed into an apartment’s garbage chute; the selling of a painting; a brawl in a diner), illuminating an intricate pattern that, for Hazel, predestines a dénouement that is startling to the reader. Livings calls to mind the work of Michael Chabon as he brings insight into the way events and circumstances shape his characters’ lives. This is one to savor. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/18/2020
Release date: 02/23/2021
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-250-82966-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-7135-6147-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-7135-6148-4
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