Great American Plain: A Novel

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9780312421076: Great American Plain: A Novel
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Edward Steinke, with all the ambition and steadfastness of his 24 years, believes in only one thing: Perfect Execution. This is the sales technique from the 1954 masterpiece Classic Sales: Theory and Technique, Ed's secular New Testament. Unfortunately for Ed, he is selling the Brackett 180-X piano organ at the South Exhibition Hall of a large Midwestern state fair, and Barry Steinke, Ed's sullen younger brother and employee, is less than supportive. Between the brothers comes Leila Genet, imaginative but timid, frozen by life, who wanders the hall looking to escape into "the stupid happiness of the Fair." Great American Plain is a novel about the Midwest, middle-class mores, success, and what it means to achieve.

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About the Author:

Gary Sernovitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and now lives in New York City. He is the author of Great American Plain and The Contrarians.

From Publishers Weekly:

In his rock-solid first novel about three Midwestern 20-somethings united by a shared loneliness, unhappiness and lack of self-awareness, Milwaukee native Sernovitz focuses squarely on his flawed but credible characters, chronicling their exploits with emotional honesty and bracing dark humor. Overweight, doggedly serious and unlucky with the ladies, Ed Steinke is a 24-year-old organ salesman who's modeled his professional persona on Alfred Orditz, a mostly forgotten sales maven of the 1950s. His brother, Barry, is a charming but shallow lothario, a would-be rock musician who packs his bags and calls it quits after a single demo-tape rejection. And Leila Genet is a painfully shy convenience store clerk, raised by a cold, stoical grandfather and now quick to flee from even the vaguest intimation of a relationship. The novel follows the lives of this disenfranchised trio for a single day, as Ed and Barry peddle their musical wares at a state fair, and Leila drops by to kill time on her day off. Sernovitz fleshes out each of his protagonists through extensive use of flashbacks, before bringing them together for a vivid finale that raises questions about emotional incompatibility, the inherent inadequacies of language and the limitless opportunities for miscommunication present in even the most innocuous and mundane of social interactions. Along the way, he displays a sharp ear for the tongue-tied ramblings of bright but inarticulate Gen-Xers, and a sophisticated, often playfully literary sense of humor. Describing Leila's first boyfriend, a slow-witted ex-football player, Sernovitz writes: "Rusty, she discovered, was a philosopher in the bedroom: sex with him was nasty, brutish and short." Although it can occasionally be slow-moving and self-important, Sernovitz's debut is a trenchant, often touching meditation upon isolation, despair and thwarted ambition.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780805067774: Great American Plain: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0805067779 ISBN 13:  9780805067774
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co., 2001
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