Book Review: Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld
September 7, 2012 9 Comments
Number of pages: 288
First published: 2012
I got this book: from Harper (an imprint of HarperCollins) for review (ARC)
Genre: contemporary fiction
Triburbia: What it is about
The book is about a group of men in Tribeca, an area in Lower Manhattan, New York. They regularly drop their kids off at school and then meet up for breakfast. They are all thirty or forty-somethings, most with a background in a creative job, such as a sculptor, a film producer, a memoir writer, and also, a gangster. They used to be well-known in their fields of work, but nowadays their fame has faded and they either work in a lower-status job, derived from their previous jobs, or pretend to be working, but really living off their wives’ salaries (who all seem to be quite successful now).
Each chapter tells the story of one of the men, and some come are featured in later chapters, too. We learn how they came to live in Tribeca, some of them when it was still up and coming so they got their loft for a good price, and others came later and paid big money for their exclusive home. Now Tribeca seems on its way down, and it’s time to move houses, where possible.
Most of them can’t live up to the standards of living that you’d expect in a nice neighbourhood like Tribeca. Their children go to a public school and there are worries about money.
Triburbia: What I thought
The chapters are really like short stories about the different men in the breakfast group. Their stories are quite separate from each other and only sometimes a story touches on something that was mentioned in a previous chapter, or refers to one of the other men. The final chapters bring the stories together but even so, the book remains a collections of stories about men in a similar situation, and doesn’t have one overarching story line. However, the themes of relationships, wealth, failure, etc. are present in each of the stories.
As I’m not a keen short story reader, I didn’t appreciate the book as much as I could have. The writing is very good and the observations of the author about people living in affluent New York seem very astute.
If you’re into short stories about modern city life, this is a great book for you!
Have you read this book?
Did you enjoy it?