The it book this fall is
CITY ON FIRE A 911 PAGE on Fire a 911 page by an nknown writer named Garth Risk Hallberg Yes Risk is literally his middle name but it s his publisher that s taking a chance here Having reportedly paid nearly 2 million for the manuscript Knopf must be praying that City on Fire is worth its weight in Goldfinch Such irrational exuberance can t buy a spot on the bestseller list but it can guarantee coverage So prepare yourself for what passes for a book publicity juggernaut Over the next few weeks you ll read about this novel everywhere and you ll hear the young author interviewed on NPR and you ll see pyramids of City on Fire at your local bookstore And at some point you ll wonder Should I read this novel or three others That decision may hinge on your stamina but City on Fire is an extraordinary performance Radiating youthful bravado that will make older authors sniff with contempt or sweat with envy Hallberg has conjured what he calls the muchness of New York City in the late 1970s He calculates the sum of thousands of variations all jockeying for the same spot Like Tom Wolfe but with less nervous energy and stylistic elegance Hallberg climbs Ghost Horse uicklyp and down the economic ladder He inhabits the minds of whites and blacks men and women old and young ga To read the rest of this review go to The Washington Posthttpswwwwashingtonpostcomentert I can already feel the sting from the glances of side eyed skepticism and even scepticism as I type this that for 600 pages anyway City on Fire the massively hyped crazy ilt pastiche of a doorstopper was this close to earning a spot on my imaginary Favorites shelf I was tterly enraptured by Garth Risk Hallberg s swirly sweaty portrait of NYC in the mid to late 70 s Even with the pretentious slathering of the most obscure words of the English language I flew through the pages as if they were popcorn buttered Even as Hallberg kept gumming p the works by rolling out character after character all interesting if not likable into the fray even as the forward flow of the narrative kept being hijacked by being shifted into reverse seemingly at Hallberg s whim even as I kept feeling Hallberg was liberally borrowing from the styles of Pulitzer Prize winners and NYC veterans Jennifer Egan Donna Tartt Don Delillo Tom Wolfe to dangle as award bait I still could not get enough of this novelThen at about the 60% mark the bottom fell outI can t ite pinpoint the reason why the book started tanking for me but it seemed as if Hallberg was dithering about how to end the thing I never confused this for a mystery or thriller it s nothing of the sort really but each time he d hover close to a suitable climax and denouement he d retrace his steps and rehash key plot points I m sure this is the tritest criticism ever but if ever a book earned it City on Fire is the one this book is in desperate need of a competent editor one allowed to excise the fat When I mentioned to a friend that Hallberg is in love with his own writing it s the seeming absence of an editor I was referring to The veterans of the doorstop novel Norman Mailer Stephen King etal may ve gotten away with getting their manuscripts published with a minimum of editing but a relatively cachet less read formerly novel less author like Hallberg Leaving in all this fat can only lead the cynical reader to point the finger at Knopf for inflating the page count A 300 page cut could ve made this a masterpieceI purposely haven t mentioned the plot as it takes a backseat to the crisply rendered vision of a city at the verge of An Heir to Bind Them upheaval There is a good one though coursing beneath the brilliant prose and beautifullygly backdrop There s way too much to concisely mention but The Desert Princes Mistress using the real life July 13 1977 Blackout of NYC as a fulcrum of sorts to balancepon Hallberg has enlisted a solid cast
of characters as instruments some Her Bedroom Surrender unwitting some actively involved in thatpheaval There s the gay African characters as instruments some No Strings Attached (www.girl-gear... unwitting some actively involved in thatpheaval There s the gay African aspiring novelist and NYC transplant from backwoods Geo. Nova York 1976 O sonho hippie acabou e dos escombros surge Sheriff Takes A Bride (Family Matters, uma nova culturarbana Saem as mensagens de paz e amor e as camisetas tingidas entram as guitarras desafinadas os acordes raivosos e os coturnos caindo aos pedaços Por toda a cidade brotam galerias de arte e casas de show esfumaçadas É nesse cenário Her Cowboys Christmas Wish (Mustang Valley ue Garth Risk Hallberg situa esta obra colossal aclamada pela crítica comoma das grandes estreias literárias de nosso tempoRegan e William são irmãos e herdeiros de Secret Agent Seduction uma grande fortuna Elama legítima Hamilton Sweeney e eternamente preocupada com o futuro da família vê seu casamento desmoronar. Rgia Mercer Goodman Billy Three Sticks aka William Hamilton Sweeney III Mercer s punker boyfriend whose A Vintage Affair up and coming band Ex Post Facto s biggest hit City on Fire provides the book its title the musically talentless Nicky Chaos another punker whose nihilistic machinations form an SDSSLA esue group bent on changing the world called PHP or Post Humanistic Phalanstery Samantha Cicciaro a Long Island NYU student photographer fanzine publisher and daughter of one the few original fireworkers those that run elaborate fireworks displays Richard the journalist whose essay on the origins of fireworkingncovers a much deeper and far reaching story Charlie the asthmatic 15 year old Long Islander who desperately wants to get out from Sirens Fury (The Storm Siren Trilogy, under his overbearing mother s wingOkay I think you get the picture there s so much going on here Hallberg sndertaking is hugeand than a little Sisyphean there s so much going on it s impossible to tie p every loose end I admire Hallberg s fortitude and vision which is epic in scope I can see why bidding wars arose over this I as well after reading half of this wanted to exalt it to all even the skeptics Alas with all the aborted endings and ntrimmed fat the best I can do is warn readers not to expect perfection There s enough of a slow burn to make City on Fire a worthwhile read but it s certainly not the be all end all novel the first half portended Five reasons for 5 stars1 I had read 177 pages of this physical heavy weight book I own it Then I saw that my library carried this audiobook it was availableso change of plans Instantly I recognized Rebecca Lowman as one of the main narrators I began to melt into REBECCA LOWMAN BLISS Rebecca adds life to the language and brings the characters alive 2 Rebecca Lowman s HOW TO READ THIS BOOKAfter page 350 I decided to skip all the passages which bored the bejeesus out of me As there were ite a considerable number of those getting through the next 550 pages became a whole lot easier even occasionally enjoyable Even so I feel like I need someone to come and defibrillate me HOISTED WITH HIS OWN PETARDOn page 617 we read She seemed to like exactly those things he found most irksome about The New York Review of Books its napologetic boringness its privileged hostility to privilegeThis seems to describe perfectly the army of fans this novel has Let me run that by you again She seemed to like exactly those things he found most irksome
About City On Fire City on Fire napologetic boringness its privileged hostility to privilegeMan is this book napologetically boring Fiction is sometimes described as life with the boring bits left out But the way to tell if you re reading literary fiction is that they stick all the boring bits back in Still I got no one to blame but myself If I want plot I can reread Gone Girl rightHOW BORING IS BORING For instance the zine A bunch of the characters in the book are anarcho punks that s to say punks with political pretensions and teenage insights on our woeful rat bastard capitalist world Maybe you can remember when you sat around vowing to smash the state and eat the rich If not Mr Hallberg is here to remind you of what you missed all the embarrassing posturing and seless gestures and npleasant sex So we get the complete reproduced 30 page 1976 punk zine called Land of 1000 Dances and it s as authentically toe curling as they all really were It s kinda cute to see stuck in the middle of a big serious literary thing but still you read the actual words at your peril It s the kind of reading which could make you bulimicA young Shane McGowan and his rad zines 1976A PARAPLEGIC TURTLETom Wolfe s well known novel The Bonfire of the Vanities is not an English Doctor, Italian Bride unfair comparison that one is also vast 700 pages set in New York City panoramic know it all and also has a plot propelled by a single crime And it s a page turner reason being that it s funny Okay perhaps that is annfair comparison because Garth Hallberg is not funny purely hope he not trying to be anyway Em meio às infidelidades do marido Ele a purely hope he s not trying to be anyway Em meio às infidelidades do marido Ele a negra fundador de Lullaby for Two uma mitológica banda punk artista plástico recluso e figura lendária das artes nova ioruinas Ao redor dos dois girama constelação de tipos e acasos A jovem fotógrafa Once a Thief (The Network ue descobrem influente movimento musical pelas ruas da cidade O jovem professor negro e gay Loving Jessie ue chega do interior e se apaixona pelo misterioso artista O grupo de ativistase pode ou não estar levando longe demais o sonho de derrubar o establishment O garoto careta e asmático Behind Closed Doors (Made in Montana, ue se apaixona pela punk indomável O repórtere sonha ser o novo nome do jornalismo literá. ,
Ecause there is not the merest trace of the flicker of a wan grin to be had in the entire thing far as I could see So if it s a grown p serious novel then City on Fire has to be very compelling for other reasons but instead it just seeps and sogs and backtracks always backtracks It inches forwards at the speed of a paraplegic turtle and then comes to many lurching dead stops as the author inserts 30 or 40 pages of back story about each and every character Mr Hallberg believes that his characters are all infinitely interesting
But the 17 year old dopey but bright Charlie Weisbarger or the hipsterthe 17 year old dopey but bright Charlie Weisbarger or the hipster Richard Groskoph or the overreaching financier Keith Lamplighter are really not that interesting LAH DI DAHMr Hallberg has a smooth and often graceful style but ite often you have to ask yourself huh what was that again He has a trick of presenting a banal idea in a frightfully fancy way Such as For it was only with her that he d ever felt that powerful powerlessness he knew was loveAnd One of his mother s antiuated beliefs involved the curative power of manual labor and though she framed it as a favor he could do for her he knew she was thinking of it the other way around when she asked him at breakfast to mow the north pasture and Claggart s eyes he is a dog by the way moist and brown and rimmed with amethyst were able to grow to a size that made the rest of him seem pitiably small and defenseless and to project the purest distillate of melancholy a melancholy from which only Jenny could save him he would have claimed had he the power of speechand There was a period just after the inevitability of ruin hove into view and just before it smashed into the hull of your life that was the closest to pure freedom anyone ever gotTHE BLACKOUTAs you may know the climax the denouement the culmination of this novel s infinite
elaborations happens during the New York blackout of July 13 14 1977 Thishappens during the New York blackout of July 13 14 1977 This the form of several characters looking for a needle in a haystack is the needle there No Is it there then No And then There s a kind of petering out Yes reallyGarth Hallberg has a whole lot of talent for sure Just like Neil Young is a great guitarist And as it happens a track on my ipod popped Mistresses up earlier Driftin Back It s 27 minutes long Neil Young doodlin away on his guitar Nice stuff and all but ah 27 minutes of one track WHY IS THIS BOOK SO LONG EASYEventually probably like every other exhausted defeated would be Garth Hallberg fan I had to realise that rarely had I found myself in the presence of an authorite so much in love with himself His remarkable trick amongst all the New Franzens was to get so many of the great and the good to fall in love with him too I think Garth knows the secrets of Mind Control You shall publish my vast novel Yes O Garth not one word shall we cut 903 pages it isJust look at those back page blurbs I wanted it to go on and on and on well it really did that was one of the problems darling it assures Made of Honor us that we are not alone and that hope is infinite yes you are not alone in hoping that this novel will come to an end soon please dear Lord while I was reading I could barely do anything else that s because it sucks all the time right out of your day along with most of the joy and the innocent pleasure of reading a new novel as opposed to a great leaden beast which presses downpon you like a very succubus sent from the Evil OneRATINGSmooth patrician style 4 starsVocabulary a recherche 5 starsCharacters 2 starsPlot you re kidding no starsFun with odd handwritten inserts and the famous zine 3 starsFeeling of accomplishment at finishing this beast with okay Soldiers Pregnancy Protocol / In the Enemys Arms uite a bit of kangaroo style skipping about but still hell 5 starsOverall 25 for the most part this book was totally worth 2 million dollars and it s definitely worth the cover price of 3000 but damn it s hard to review at its most reductive it s a multi viewpoint novel told from the perspective of several characters living in new york during 77 culminating in that summ. Rio americano E em meio a tudo issom crime The Substitute Groom (Hawks Way ue vai cruzar suas vidas de forma imprevisível e irremediávelCombinando o ritmo dem thriller ao escopo dos grandes épicos da literatura Garth Risk Hallberg constrói m meticuloso retrato de ma metrópole em transformação Dos altos salões do poder às ruelas do subúrbio ele captura a explosão social e artística e definiu ma década e transformou o mundo para sempre Cidade em chamas é The Missing Heir um romance inesuecível sobre amor traição e perdão sobre arte e punk rock Sobre pessoase precisam Heart Of Stone (Morgans Mercenaries, umas das outras para sobreviver E sobre oe faz a vida valer a pe.