cover image The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx

The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx

Arthur Nersesian, . . Akashic, $22.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-60-6

The sum is greater than the parts in Nersesian’s frustrating second of a five-novel series (after The Swing Voter of Staten Island ). A dual narrative charts the lives of Paul Moses and his infamous power broker brother, Robert: Paul follows his girlfriend into the Mexican revolution, and his involvement sets his life’s course; his adulthood is marked by a series of setbacks stemming from his connection with the anarchist movement. Robert, meanwhile, is a mama’s boy who uses family wealth and connections to begin his ascent to power. A second narrative takes place in the postapocalyptic America of The Swing Voter of Staten Island and features a former FBI agent as he tries to escape a subterranean purgatory while his mind is invaded by the memories of Paul Moses. There are some interesting elements at play, but Nersesian’s prose doesn’t exhibit its customary zing, and the characters never quite come alive. The novel is somewhat redeemed by the two narratives’ late-book connection, but the flat nature of the bulk of the novel may prevent all but the most insistent adherents to Nersesian’s dyspeptic vision from finding the experience rewarding. (Oct.)