APARTMENT by Teddy Wayne
Kirkus Star

APARTMENT

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Wayne’s latest foray into the dark minds of lonely young men follows the rise and fall of a friendship between two aspiring fiction writers on opposite sides of a vast cultural divide.

In 1996, our unnamed protagonist is living a cushy New York City life: He's a first-year student in Columbia’s MFA program in fiction (the exorbitant bill footed by his father) who’s illegally subletting his great-aunt’s rent-controlled East Village apartment (for which his father also foots the bill). And it is in this state—acutely aware of his unearned advantages, questioning his literary potential, and deeply alone—that he meets Billy. Billy is an anomaly in the program: a community college grad from small-town Illinois, staggeringly talented, and very broke. But shared unease is as strong a foundation for friendship as any, and soon, our protagonist invites Billy to take over his spare room, a mutually beneficial if precarious arrangement. They are the very clear products of two different Americas, one the paragon of working-class hardscrabble masculinity, the other an exemplar of the emasculating properties of parental wealth—mirror images, each in possession of what the other lacks. “He would always have to struggle to stay financially afloat,” our protagonist realizes, “and I would always be fine, all because my father was a professional and his was a layabout. I had an abundance of resources; here was a concrete means for me to share it.” And he means it, when he thinks it, and for a while, the affection between them is enough to (mostly) paper over the awkward imbalance of the setup. Wayne (Loner, 2016) captures the nuances of this dynamic—a musky cocktail of intimacy and rage and unspoken mutual resentment—with draftsmanlike precision, and when the breaking point comes, as, of course, it does, it leaves one feeling vaguely ill, in the best way possible.

A near-anthropological study of male insecurity.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-63557-400-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019




Kirkus Interview
Teddy Wayne
author of LONER
September 13, 2016

In Teddy Wayne’s new novel Loner, David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity. Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem. “A spectacular stylist, Wayne is deeply empathetic toward his characters, but—brutally and brilliantly—he refuses to either defend or excuse them,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. “A startlingly sharp study of not just collegiate culture, but of social forces at large; a novel as absorbing as it is devastating.” View video >

MORE BY TEDDY WAYNE

FictionLONER by Teddy Wayne
by Teddy Wayne
FictionTHE LOVE SONG OF JONNY VALENTINE by Teddy Wayne
by Teddy Wayne