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FICTION/Mandel, Emily St. John
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[Lakewood, Colo.] : Unbridled Books c2012.
Main Author
Emily St. John Mandel, 1979- (-)
Physical Description
279 p. ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Mandel offers up her unique blend of literary character studies mixed with crime fiction in her third novel (The Singer's Gun, 2010). Gavin Sasaki is fired from the New York Star after he begins to fabricate quotes to punch up his stories. Shaken to the core by the loss of his job and the discovery that he has a child by his high-school girlfriend, Anna, Gavin, a film-noir fan, returns to Sebastian, Florida, to rebuild his life and get to know his daughter, Chloe. But finding Chloe proves to be a challenge, as Anna is on the run from a drug dealer from whom she stole over $100,000 a decade ago. Gavin's homecoming brings him back into contact with his three closest friends from high school, who are all linked to Anna's crime. Fascinating, flawed characters distinguish this involving nonlinear novel, which moves back and forth in time to reveal the characters' various connections to Anna and the innocent event that brings her old crime back to the forefront of their lives.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Mandel (The Singer's Gun) strikes a confident chord in her third novel. Ten years after graduating from a performing arts high school in Florida, the members of the Lola Quartet are far from the futures they imagined during their final jazz concert in school. Gavin, who fled south Florida's stifling heat for New York, returns after losing his journalism job in disgrace to learn that he may be the father of a 10-year-old girl named Chloe. As he investigates Chloe and her mother's whereabouts, he attempts to reconnect with his Lola friends, all coping with disillusion: Daniel has divorced twice; Jack and Sasha have succumbed to addiction. Gavin's sentiment that "real people are so goddamn disappointing" not only explains his penchant for plagiarizing his articles but also applies to the adult lives of Mandel's characters. The author again melds mystery plotting with literary techniques like shifting points-of-view, resulting in both sophistication and suspense; the mystery doesn't quite pay off, but Mandel's novel excels as a character study that considers the slow degradation of hopes, dreams, and expectations of people who are only in their late 20s but already feel ancient. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In her riveting third novel (following The Singer's Gun), Mandel evokes murky Florida suburbs and smoky New York jazz clubs. A loosely gathered high school jazz quartet unravels after graduation as the musicians go their separate ways. Ten years later, their uncertain paths may cross once again after youthful hopes and dreams are pushed aside by harsh, dangerous realities. The economic downturn, coupled with a host of erratic decisions, leads to lives of quiet desperation. The story is anchored by Gavin, who imagines himself to be a gumshoe detective while wilting in the Florida heat; his obsessive search for a former love propels the story forward. One of Mandel's gifts is her ability to drop nearly invisible clues as to how these four disparate lives might intersect once more. Her conclusion turns on a dime. VERDICT Evocative, intriguing, and complex, this novel is as smooth as the underbelly of a deadly, furtive reptile. Mandel's substantial fan base will rejoice; word of mouth will bring new fans on board.-Susanne Wells, Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Anna had fallen into a routine, or as much of a routine as a seventeen-year-old can reasonably fall into when she's transient and living in hiding with an infant. She was staying at her sister's friend's house in a small town in Virginia. The baby always woke up crying at four thirty or five a.m. Anna got up and changed Chloe's diaper, prepared a bottle and bundled her into the stroller and then they left the basement where they were living, walked three blocks to the twenty-four-hour doughnut shop for coffee and across the wide empty street to the park. Anna sat on a swing with her first coffee of the morning and Chloe lay in the stroller staring up at the clouds. They listened to the birds in the trees at the edges of the park, the sounds of traffic in the distance. The climbing equipment cast a complicated silhouette against the pale morning sky. There was a plastic shopping bag duct-taped to the underside of the stroller. It held a little under one hundred eighteen thousand dollars in cash. That morning at a music school in South Carolina a pianist was sitting alone in a practice room. Jack had been playing the piano for four and a half hours and under normal circumstances his hands would be aching by now, but he was high on painkillers and he couldn't feel it. There was an east-facing window in the practice room and the morning light had long since entered. The piano was illuminated, sun caught in the varnish and gleaming in the keys, the whole room shining, he was dizzy, his skin itched and he hadn't slept all night. His roommate had gone to Virginia to rescue a girl whom Jack had imperiled and everything was coming apart around him, but so long as he kept playing he didn't have to think about any of this, so he closed his eyes against the shine and launched once more into Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Ten years later, in February, the showerhead in Gavin's bathroom began to leak. The timing was inconvenient. His editor had assigned him to a story about Florida's exotic wildlife problem, and he was leaving New York the following morning. Gavin stood in the bathroom watching the steady dripping of hot water, at a loss. It seemed to him that this was the sort of thing Karen would have taken care of, before she'd moved out, and he realized at the same moment that he wasn't even sure where the landlord's phone number was. On a piece of paper somewhere, but pieces of paper had taken over his desk and spilled out onto the living room floor in the three weeks since Karen had left, a sort of avalanche. After a half-hour he came across a box of baby clothes that he'd forgotten to take to Goodwill and after that he didn't want to look anymore, so he retreated into the bedroom and resumed an earlier search for clean socks. He could call the landlord when he got back. What Gavin had wanted was to be an investigative reporter, a newspaperman, but nothing about his career was as he'd imagined it would be. When he graduated with his journalism degree he'd thought that this would be the moment when his life would finally begin. In idealistic daydreams he'd thought he might help change the world or at least improve it, and in shallower moments he'd just wanted to be a star reporter. He'd wanted to extend his hands and feel the weight of the Pulitzer with the crowd applauding before him, step up to the podium and clear his throat in the spotlight. He'd managed eventually to land a job as a reporter at one of the city's best papers, but coming to The New York Star was like stepping into a drama in which all the major roles were already taken, or perhaps the play had already closed. There were veteran journalists at the Star, men and a woman who'd brought down titans and gone into war zones and propelled the paper to a point only just beneath the Times in the New York City newspaper pantheon, people who didn't have to imagine what a Pulitzer felt like, but even the veterans seemed adrift in the changed world. The paper was sending out fewer and fewer correspondents on faraway stories. There were no more bureaus overseas or even in Washington. They were covering local news, relying on Reuters and freelancers for everything else. Too many of the stories seemed more like entertainment than news to him. "You have to put in your time," his editor had told him, but Gavin feared more and more that his time had passed. On two or three occasions he'd managed to get invited along for drinks with a couple of the veterans, and their stories mostly concerned a time that seemed better and more glorious than now and ended with some variation on "those were the days." He'd come home from the bars leaden with disappointment. "You know what your problem is?" his friend Silas said one night when they were drinking together at an Irish bar near the paper. "I just figured it out." Silas was a copyeditor and had been at the paper for longer than Gavin had. Their desks were side-by-side in the newsroom. "Please," Gavin said. "Tell me what my problem is." "Look at you. Jesus. The fedora, the trenchcoat. You want to run around the city with a flashbulb camera and a press card in your hat band." "How is that a problem?" "Your problem is that you don't really want to work at a newspaper, per se. You want to work in 1925." "I don't disagree," Gavin said. It had been clear for some time that he was in the wrong decade. All of his favourite movies were older than he was. His camera was a 1973 Yashica. He'd seen Chinatown a dozen times. He suspected his editor was sending him on his first out-of-town assignment to make him feel better about not being senior enough to be sent into a war zone, or perhaps to make him feel better about having missed the days the veterans drank to. He knew she was doing him a favour, but the assignment itself seemed depressingly symptomatic: he was being sent to his hometown. He'd gone in a circle. He wanted to scream. "Aren't you from there?" his editor asked, when she called him over to her desk. "I am," he said. "But-" and he realized as he spoke that of course there was no way of evading the assignment, of course he couldn't tell her that the weather in his hometown had sent him to hospital with heat stroke nearly every year until he left at eighteen, so he sat by her desk discussing the story for a few minutes and then went back to his computer to check the South Florida weather. The city of Sebastian was in the grip of a heat wave. That night he lay awake listening to the dripping shower and wondered if it would be pathetic to call Karen about the landlord's phone number, decided against it and woke at an unspeakably early hour to board a southbound plane. Excerpted from The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.