Fried's fine second novel (after 2004's My Father's Fighter) follows a curmudgeonly 49-year-old New Yorker and his wife through the rituals of their annual vacation in Paris. It's December 2002, and "war in Iraq [is] penciled in on the world's calendar for twelve months hence." Joseph Steiner, recently laid off from his TV exec job, can sense "the encroaching smallness" of his life against the backdrop of a Paris remembered. Don't expect much in the way of plot: the novel delivers incidents and tableaus as opposed to a single dramatic sweep. Steiner sees old friends and judges how he measures up; he buys clothes and visits his favorite sites for the umpteenth time. But with wry humor (Steiner describes as "exhilarating" a rainy weekend spent reading Balzac) and character-based insight ("the unlived life is a peculiarly American phenomenon"), Fried keeps the pages turning until, gratifyingly, Steiner comes to see that his fate is "being decided by history in ways he [is] only beginning to understand." The novel finds its center in the confluence of its political moment and Steiner's place in it, tracing the erosion of known worlds. (Nov.)
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It's slightly more than a year after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. New Yorker Joseph Steiner, like thousands of other men and women, is still sorting through his psychological wreckage in the aftermath of the attacks. Since he has just lost his job as a television exec, he and his wife (a small-press publisher) decide to spend Christmas in Paris. Set against the backdrop of the looming war in Iraq, this is the story of a self-centered man forced to confront the fact that the rest of the world probably doesn't care about him as much as he cares about himself. But the question remains: What will Joseph do with his revelation? The author, whose 2004 novel My Father's Fighter was a New York Times Notable Book, packs a lot of insight into this slim, gracefully written book. A lot of recent novels have worked post-9/11 themes into their narratives, often in clunky, contrived ways. Here, the 9/11 context is crucial to the hero's personal dilemma, adding an extra layer of meaning to our universal grappling with questions of self and society. David Pitt
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Book Description Permanent Pr Pub Co, 2006. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # SONG1579621414