Kirkus Reviews QR Code


An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City

by Choire Sicha

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-191430-0
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Sex. Bills. Politics. Sex. Friendship. Real Estate. Recession. Sex. Shower, rinse, repeat.

Former GawkerRadar and New York Observer editor Sicha, who now co-owns The Awl website, creates a novelistic tale that the subtitle claims as reportage. It appears to be an odd mixture of fact and fiction. Much of the text satirizes desiccated sociology books, offering archly funny examinations of New York City’s class and economic structures, its absurdly inflated real estate market, the lucrative world of its various vices and other banal facts of life. Unfortunately, the apparently fictional narrative that’s interlaced with these journalistic observations is wearyingly trite and unfocused. Its primary protagonist is John, an office drone at a company suffering through multiple rounds of firings, resignations and layoffs. He goes to parties with his friends, gets high and watches TV. He frets over not making enough money to live comfortably in New York City. He has sex, again and again and again, with boyfriends, hookups, party crashers and club rats, described not only without passion, but with an almost clinical detachment. “Sometimes work was just what you clocked into while you were falling in love,” Sicha writes. “Sometimes sex was just something you did while you weren’t at work. Drugs were something you did sometimes when you couldn’t deal with one of those things, or with yourself.” Sicha seems to be trying to document generational angst as a new product, something that’s been done with every generation since Fitzgerald transcribed the Jazz Age. A certain rhythm to the author’s prose harkens back to the glory days of coffeehouse spoken-word performances; the atmosphere of ruthlessness takes its cues from the Ellis/McInerney school of hipster-urban bards. Either way, it already feels like an artifact.

An experiment in genre fusion too clever for its own good.