LITTLE DISASTERS by Randall  Klein


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An extramarital affair in Brooklyn culminates on the day of an ominous subway shutdown in this debut novel.

A year ago, Paul and Jenny and Michael and Rebecca—couples as-yet-unconnected—go to the same hospital in Brooklyn for scheduled pregnancy inductions. Though it's 2009, both women insist on laboring alone, leaving both men in the waiting room to stew. This is the first bit of uncanny coincidence and the setting of the first not-so-little disaster: Paul and Jenny’s son dies shortly after his birth. A month later, Paul bizarrely decides to contract Michael, a carpenter, to turn their nursery into an office for Jenny. He also invites Michael and Rebecca to dinner, which, unsurprisingly, is a disaster. Maybe a little one, but it lays the groundwork for a grim affair. Michael, a cynical native New Yorker, witty and brimming with self-satisfaction, is drawn to the dark and clever Jenny. While he claims over and over to love his wife and new son (both ciphers, the wife so perfectly good that she bakes cookies for a living), he dives into the affair relentlessly. A year later, when the book begins, Michael is in the northernmost tip of Manhattan, waiting to start a new life with Jenny, who stands him up. Paul is on the subway under the river, hopeful that Jenny will keep her promise to stay with him, when the trains stop running. The complex novel tracks both of the men's arduous journeys back to Jenny with gritty, sweaty specificity while they wonder what kind of giant disaster stranded them. Interposed are chapters from each of their viewpoints leading up to the present. Paul, a seeming milquetoast, hides some interesting, small perversions. Perhaps this explains his desire to be friends with strangers who have what he tragically does not, but the book is a bit tone-deaf on parenting and loss.

A twisted love letter to New York City.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7352-2168-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2018


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