All the Sad Young Literary Men, Keith Gessen
In short: Mediocre. This novel is really a bunch of short stories loosely interwoven, with each of the stories told from one of the three main character’s point of view. Too bad they quickly become indistinguishable: Mark, Sam, and Keith are all jerks, all terrible with women, all Jewish, and possibly all Russian. There’s a lot of whining about the Bush administration, and hey, I whine about that too, but it doesn’t make for much of a novel. The writing is lovely in places, and the chapter in which Sam (whose mission in life is to write the Great Zionist Novel, though he’s not a practicing Jew and knows very little about the situation in Israel) actually goes to Israel and the West Bank is great, full of insight and tension. But too much of the book is concerned with the not-very-interesting characters’ not-very-interesting (and extremely convoluted) love lives, and that just gets dull.
Read it if you like: Pretension, n+1