TOWN HOUSE by Tish Cohen


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A constellation of characters whose idiosyncrasies make the family of Little Miss Sunshine look like Ozzie and Harriet.

Baz Madison, legendary ’70s rock musician of the Bazmanics, dies young and leaves a son, Jack, who inherits the town house of the title, a rambling four-story brownstone on Boston’s Beacon Hill, but 30 years later, when Baz’s royalty checks begin to dry up, Jack is left without much income (he’s a high-end color consultant who’s only interest is blending the “perfect” white) and an albatross of a house. Trouble is, Jack’s an agoraphobe, a condition greatly deplored by his 17-year-old son Harlan, who in honor of his late grandfather dresses only in ’70s garb because he’s decided that “the only real cool is uncool.” The house goes on the market, but Jack (called “Hermit Boy” by the neighbors) not only doesn’t want to leave—he can’t leave, especially since he’s developed nifty compensations for agoraphobia like the Groper, a contraption made of hockey stick, hanger and tape that allows him to get the morning newspaper without leaving the porch. Dr. Myron Snowden, Jack’s psychiatrist, periodically visits him at home but is unable to help. Only two characters are able to call forth Jack’s deeper humanity and desperate desire to overcome his isolation: Lucie, his precocious ten-year-old neighbor, who has aspirations of Olympic glory in ice-skating, and Dorrie Allsop, the realtor who lists the town house and whose debilitating and unsuccessful strategy consists of pointing out the flaws in a house because she believes the good points will take care of themselves.

While the humor tends to be self-conscious and pedestrian, Jack ultimately learns the serious lesson that “the deeper you hide yourself away the harder it becomes to come out.”

Pub Date: May 8th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-113131-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2007


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