After the Dust Settles

by Lisa Donovan

I have recently read a book review in the Nashville Scene that has sparked my interest. Book reviews, or any review for that matter, are things I typically don’t take much stock in. It is pretty unusual that I even read this one. I find that word of mouth and the NYTimes Bestseller list (which is only minorly falliable in my opinion) are my best references for which book to pick up next. The book in the review, The Good Life, follows two Manhattan-ites through a post 9/11 tale which seems to defragments all the typical formalities and social constructs that are so inbedded in New York culture. While the review doesn’t really commit to whether it is a well written or exceptional novel - it does imply that there is some heavy cultural deconstructivism at work:

The Good Life

While 9/11 was, clearly, a national tragedy, it was also a major anthropological event within the constrained New York City that McInerney has, for most of the past two decades, chosen to explore—a geography that includes Manhattan south of 95th Street; parts of Long Island and Connecticut; but not one block of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island or, God forbid, New Jersey. McInerney (who long divided his residence between Nashville and Manhattan but is now back in New York full time) is not so much concerned with New York, the American city where people are born, live, and die, as he is with New York, the cult society where scores of acolytes from Middle America compete for initiation. As with other cults, it is hard to get in, though escaping can be harder still. In a Jan. 31 review in The New York Times, critic Michiko Kakutani dismissed many of McInerney’s characters as “jaded hedonists,? but in a sociological sense they are no more hedonistic than were Mead’s Samoans—they are simply trapped within the hedonistic norms of the society they have embraced.

I think that, while I have learned to never trust a reviewer, I may have to take the plunge and see how this book turns out. I’m a sucker for deeply investigated cultural dismantaling. I’m certain this is the beginning of a slew of books about post 9/11 tales and rather than being skeptical, I think that I’ll take a chance for a change.

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 10:25 am and is filed under Lifestyles, Daily Living, Mental Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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