Zinsky the Obscure by Ilan Mochari

Zinsky the Obscure

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A literary bildungsroman.

Mochari's debut chronicles the life of Ariel Zinsky who at the age of 30 has become something of a bitter misanthrope. Zinsky decides to chronicle his life so far with the goal of elucidating how it is he has become a man whose life is almost devoid of social interactions. He goes back to some of his earliest memories beginning with the beatings he received from his estranged father. In Zinsky's first person narration he describes his awkward, social misfit high school years, which are followed by his social misfit college years. However, once he sets out to focus on making a living publishing a guide to the annual NFL draft, a change begins to occur in his life. Zinsky begins to make friends at school, becomes more athletic and experiences his first sexual relationship. Post-college his devotion to his annual guide, which is slowly building a following leads him to quit his office job and instead work as a waiter, but it is also the guide which leads to his first real girlfriend. Although there are some rough times, Zinsky eventually reaches the point where his football side business has become a huge financial success. Still, Zinsky's old doubts and insecurities poison his personal relationships and bring him to the point where he runs away to Manhattan selling his football empire for a tidy sum so that he can take a low pressure gig at a football magazine. Thanks in part to his English teacher mother, Zinsky is well-read, and Mochari makes use of this fact in crafting a highly readable literary novel. Even when describing the most mundane of scenes Zinsky speaks like a Fitzgerald narrator, “I had cannily obtained many usernames and passwords from the IT department”. Though the novel is filled with many such mundane details, it flows well thanks in part to Mochari's clear but colorful prose. Zinsky's rough childhood makes him an underdog and a sympathetic narrator whose story is compelling. Even as he grows into a self-absorbed young man, the reader is still rooting for him though the advantage of another perspective means that the reader can see the error in Zinksy's ways. By novel's end Zinsky has gone from hero to antihero leaving readers with a sense of closure if not exactly a sense of satisfaction with the conclusion.

A powerful debut with Dickensian touches in its heartbreaking and occasionally humorous chronicle of the life of a modern young man.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1937677114
Page count: 358pp
Publisher: Fomite
Program: Kirkus Indie
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