Stylishly written, cleverly observed, and boldly imagined.


After his academic job search, his journalistic career, and his marriage proposal go down in flames, an angry young man moves into his mother's basement and starts a radical movement that pits millennials against baby boomers.

Cassie and Mark, both bluegrass musicians, meet at a gig in Williamsburg, where "maybe fifty bespectacled recent college grads milled around drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon from the can and Miller High Life from the bottle." Cassie reflexively rebuffs Mark's friendly overtures, fearing that her girlfriend will notice and take umbrage. (Perhaps girlfriend is not the right word. "They lived together in a kind of Heiddegarian phenomenological relationship present, in which only the present moment of drinking or playing music or fucking existed, an immediate Dasein of mutually undecided and uncommented-upon cathexis, Eros and lust.") Despite Cassie's lack of enthusiasm, the two soon find themselves in a band, a relationship, and a shared apartment. But shortly after Mark gets her a fact-checking gig at the glossy magazine where he's on staff, their lives take starkly different turns. He loses his job, spends a year writing an essay on Emma Goldman that no one reads, then makes a financial and romantic mistake so serious he is forced to move home to Baltimore. There, he puts on a David Crosby mask, sets himself up in front of an upside-down poster of Jerry Garcia, and begins to issue YouTube screeds against baby boomers. His message: Retire now, greedy pigs, and free up the jobs for us. The videos go viral. Cassie, meanwhile, is riding a wave of good luck. She's become Director of Research at a new media company called RazorWire and is having a passionate relationship with a brilliant female co-worker. The money is fantastic even if the job is something less than that, fact-checking articles like "Seventeen Great New Recipes That Use Splenda Instead of Sugar." But when Mark, now known as Boomer1, loses control of his movement, bad things start to happen, first to Bob Weir, Eddie Bauer, Jann Wenner, and the AARP. Torday's (The Last Flight of Poxl West, 2015) gifts as a writer are brilliantly displayed in the details of Cassie's and Mark's inner and outer worlds. A third main character, Mark's mother, is not as compelling, and when this ambitious social novel comes to rest with her, it loses some steam.

Stylishly written, cleverly observed, and boldly imagined.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-19179-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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