Monday, January 16, 2017
An Entertaining Read That, Unfotunately, Covers All Too Familair Terrain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I always thought Edith Wharton pioneered what has come to be known as "The New York Novel," but I am sure if I did my scholarly research--turning up enough for a thesis or dissertation topic--I would discover obscure others before her, who trafficked in the same areas.
So, why do I feel like coming down so hard on Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's first novel, "The Nest?" I think the reason is, for those of us who live in New York, we know these types all too well, so why do we need to read about them???????????
I have to question whether Ms. Sweeney is familiar with "The Little Foxes," not only because the quartet of siblings here is utterly despicable--and not nearly as fascinating and engineering as the Hubbards and Giddenses--but because I couldn't help noticing that the eldest child is named Leo, and how many Leos does one meet, even in literature?
What you have here is a compendium of clichéd characters vying for "The Nest," which is cliché in itself--a divisible inheritance each one is to receive, and that everyone thinks will solve whatever immediate financial problems they are facing. But how can problems be solved, unless the greed stops someplace, and these whiners just won't quit?????????
Leo is the worst of the lot--the very New York male archetype I wrote about the other day, in my post on the Upper West Side. He feels he is entitled to grab everything--money, his dick, pussy--from whatever and whomever he wants, when he wants it! I have to confess, I kept reading to see if this a-hole would get his comeuppance; I am certain Ms. Sweeney thinks she gave him one, but, as far as I am concerned, she let Leo get away with everything, walking off into the sunset, and I cannot forgive her, for that.
Brother Jack, who is gay, is not much better, allowing himself to be enabled by a partner who genuinely loves and supports him, while he schemes and screws his way through life, deceiving Walker (the aggrieved partner) every step along the way. He does get the comeuppance he deserves, and it is no wonder the others refer to him as "Leo-lite;" he is just as despicable.
So, too, is Melody, (this family's last name is Plumb, but no relation to Eve, who played Jan on "The Brady Bunch," unfortunately!!!!!!!!) married to a loving attorney named Walter, but is a garden variety suburban bitch--hello!!!!!!--who is raising her twin daughters to be suburban clones of herself, yet has no idea one is a lesbian, and the other does not care!!!!!!!!! Her materialism, where she refuses to work, is vile, and I could not help hoping the daughters get away from this bitch, but fast.
Beatrice is the most benign of the siblings--a promising writer who has failed, but is trying again, and the only one with any humanity at all, as she ends up with someone at the end. I found her tolerable, but the way in which she was able to tolerate her siblings did not ring true for me; she is no saint, and even a saint would walk away from this group!
Still, I did love the author's dark and cynical tone throughout. Until the very end, where things morph into a wealth of hope and good cheer, like "Moonstruck." Who does Sweeney think she is??????????????
One problem is that, once upon a time, unknown writers--Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Judith Guest--would emerge from the unsolicited pile. These days, if one does not spring forth from the Corporation Factory known as University Writing Programs, complete with MFA, one does not stand a chance. Ms. Sweeney hails from such, and while she can write, her material here is much too formulaic and trite. "The Nest" may attract lovers of the New York novel, but will disappoint with its overall familiarity.
Try something different, Ms. Sweeney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!