Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Altruists: A Book Review

The literary world is filled with them, the Jewish girls who live in New York and hate their mothers, the gay man, the scion of academe, and all so self-absorbed as to make them laughable. They are here, in THE ALTRUISTS, but author Andrew Ridker does not present them as serious folk worthy of sympathy.

The family at the center of the novel is a dysfunctional crew, with no redeeming characteristics. We don’t have to cheer for them, feel for them, or hope for them. Just laugh at them, as the rest of the non-literary world laughs at the shallow creatures.

Four people, so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t notice the others. What made this novel so readable was the fact that I did not feel as if I had to follow the formula, that the author invites his readers to snicker at the antics of his clueless creations. Does he write from experience at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop?

I kept turning the pages, wondering if any one of the four would reach that moment of awareness and evolve into a decent human being, as is standard format for the typical novel. Not to give the ending away, but it did follow the prescribed formula as taught, no doubt, at the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Worth a weekend when you need a giggle and can get past the endless litany of Jewish New Yorkers with links to academia that are so popular with the publishers these days.

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