General Fiction Sarah Schulman Shimmer

ISBN 13: 9780380976461

Shimmer

3.55 avg rating
( 87 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780380976461: Shimmer

Set against the backdrop of post-World War II New York City, three people--Sylvia Golubowsky, an aspiring reporter waiting for her big break; Austin Van Cleeve, a gossip columnist who wields a wicked pen; and Cal Byfield, a cook who is determined to create a Negro theater on Broadway--cross paths in the most unexpected ways.

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Review:

Shimmer is the fifth (and, to date, best) novel from Sarah Schulman, the lesbian bard of contemporary urban fiction. Set in Manhattan during the harrowing McCarthy era of the early 1950s, the book follows Sylvia Golubowsky, a Brooklyn-born and bred gay Jewish woman who aspires to a career as a reporter, biding her time as the head typist in the stenographer pool of a major New York tabloid; the aptly named Austin Van Cleeve, a conniving, pretentious "blue-blooded" Republican gossip columnist armed with a sinister pen that threatens both New York City and Washington, D.C.; and Cal Byfield, an African American Columbia University graduate married to a white jazz pianist, who finds himself working as a short-order cook while seeking recognition as a great American playwright.

It is through the eyes of each of these richly drawn characters, whose lives overlap in unexpected and credible ways, that Schulman so artfully depicts the tempo and texture of one of the lowest points in American history. Here we witness a young, insecure, and vengeful Richard Nixon as he seeks to destroy Alger Hiss to advance his own career from the perspective of Sylvia, who reveals her desire to elect the Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace, and from that of racist, archconservative Van Cleeve, who would do almost anything to see Eisenhower in office. And, through Schulman's sensitive and skillful prose, we experience the struggles Byfield must face to assert and maintain his integrity while trying to break out as a serious writer as he works to get his plays produced on Broadway.

A major departure for Schulman in both content and style, Shimmer is at once a memorable entertainment and an excellent evocation of race, class, and sex in postwar New York. --Kera Bolonik

About the Author:

Sarah Schulman is the author of seven novels, including The Sophie Horowitz Story, Girls Visions, and Everything, After Delores, People In Trouble, Empathy, Rat Bohemia, and two non-fiction books; My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years and Stagestruck:Theater, AIDS and Marketing.

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