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LIFE AMONG GIANTS by Bill Roorbach


by Bill Roorbach

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-616-20076-3
Publisher: Algonquin

With memories of people tangled "in a hopeless knot," David “Lizard” Hochmeyer attempts to unravel the Gordian in Roorbach’s (Temple Stream, 2005, etc.) latest novel.

The people include his assassinated parents; Emily, his African-American-Korean first love; and Sylphide, prima ballerina and widow. Sylphide’s husband was Dabney Stryker-Stewart, an internationally famous rock star knighted for his work with children trapped in war. Add Kate, Lizard's talented tennis-playing sister; her lover and professor, Jack Cross, a famed pop-psychologist teaching at Yale; and Don Shula, legendary Miami Dolphins coach. Next come Etienne, chef extraordinaire, tattooed head to toe, and RuAngela, Etienne’s five o’clock—shadowed transvestite lover. That's a mere sampling of the exotic, eye-catching cast, the best thing about this book. Lizard’s father, always skating the edge of respectability and propriety, is a foot soldier in a Wall Street Gecko-type financial shell game. Lizard’s mother, married beneath her station, drinks martinis and plays country-club tennis, her talent as a tournament ringer for the moneyed set assuring the family access to the right circles. The family resides next door to High Side, palatial home of Sylphide and Dabney, where teenage Kate was caretaker for Dabney’s son and became Dabney’s lover. Then Nick, Lizard’s father, turned state’s evidence and was shot dead, along with his wife, for his trouble. Great setup, sparkling characters, but one-third into the book readers will hunger for less setup and characterization and want the story to get moving. It does, in complex fashion. Kate goes bonkers after her parents’ murders. Emily and Sylphide jump in and out of Lizard’s bed and his charmed life—he’s a backup quarterback for the Dolphins, owner of two successful, trendy restaurants—before things take a turn. Roorbach knows food; readers will want recipes of the fare he describes. The rich-and-famous lifestyle is nicely rendered, too. 

A narrative threaded through with corruption and an appreciable number of love stories.