Boomtown

Boomtown

5.0 2
by Greg Williams
     
 

After the Y2K panic had subsided and the streets of Times Square were cleared, America woke up to a new century shocked to find itself more or less the same as it was before. Following the lives of a group of sharply drawn characters in this uncannily hip and savagely satirical new novel from the acclaimed Sewanee Writers' Series, Greg Williams takes us to the heart… See more details below

Overview

After the Y2K panic had subsided and the streets of Times Square were cleared, America woke up to a new century shocked to find itself more or less the same as it was before. Following the lives of a group of sharply drawn characters in this uncannily hip and savagely satirical new novel from the acclaimed Sewanee Writers' Series, Greg Williams takes us to the heart of the postmillennial psyche.

Jonathan Scarver, CEO of Internet start-up Allminder.com, has Midas-like visions of wealth and an IPO scheduled for late spring guaranteed to skyrocket the value of his stock options to obscenity, if he can only manage to keep it a secret that the company is nearly bankrupt. His publicity director, Brad Smith, has been relying on the comfort of all-night parties to relieve the stress of work and to drown out the calling of a secret ambition. Around his life circles Nicole, a struggling actress-slash-waitress coping with a post-breakup depression. In a series of just-missed chance encounters and lost opportunities of the kind that can only happen in Manhattan, Brad and Nicole's orbits nearly collide and are then repelled, spiraling with the city's gravitational pull toward their destiny.

A Bright Lights, Big City for the dot.com age, Boomtown exposes with dry irony and magnetic wisdom the hubris, vanity, and deceit that fueled the staggering climb and precipitous fall of that era's ambition.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Boomtown remains in this sense something of a chamber piece, a wicked look back at a vanished zeitgeist that was never going to deliver the many heady revolutions it promised. Yet Williams's novel serves as the best and worst sort of remembrance of the suddenly old New York of the barely new millennium: It savagely sends up the hubris behind the boom, while studiously preserving the humanity of the town. New York is always its own best, frenetically alive memorial to itself, and this is perhaps why Williams takes leave of his tale with the sentimental yet quite persuasive assurance that at least some of his characters will discover something not unlike their better natures. "The city will see to it," he writes, and you can almost see Dawn Powell nodding faintly in assent. — Chris Lehmann
Publishers Weekly
The author of Younger than Springtime offers a series of sharply clever and often comic character studies of New Yorkers riding the brief but intoxicating Internet boom. Jonathan Scarver, CEO of Web startup Allminder.com, is expanding his money-guzzling company, heading for a scheduled IPO that should net him "a nine-figure fortune" while juggling the demands of his tempestuous Arab investor, Farouk Kharrazi. Further down the food chain, PR ace Brad Smith makes loss sound like profit during the day and drinks himself into oblivion at night. But can Allminder stay afloat long enough to make that IPO? Tension, sexual and otherwise, also comes in the form of gorgeous Sierra, the smart ex-stripper whom Brad hires at the request of a rich investment banker buddy. Sierra shakes things up by using her charms to build a power base with Kharrazi, while Allminder's nerdy computer guru, who's been busy reading everyone's e-mail and knows the company's in trouble, unleashes a powerful virus that forwards people's emails to everyone on their contact list. Williams's crisp, ironic voice keeps the narrative clipping along, and a sweet subplot about a struggling actress named Nicole who survives a breakup with her boyfriend and a sabotage attempt by her jealous acting teacher to land the part of her dreams adds to the fun. Williams stumbles into a few clich s of plot and character, but his compassion for these confused and imperfect humans-especially as they try to piece together their lives after the predictable Allminder crash-provides balance and depth. The ending feels too fast and a bit too hopeful, but otherwise the novel's a winner. (Apr.) Forecast: Some might accuse this Internet novel of coming a bit too late to the cyber party, but it's a fun, fast read and should do much to establish Williams's reputation. Solid blurbs from Claire Messud, Margot Livesey and John Casey should help, too. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Manhattan tumbles into the dot-com collapse in this often amusing, observant tale. In what amounts to an uneven series of comic sketches, second-novelist Williams (Younger than Springtime, 1997) brings together a passel of ambitious, starry-eyed, dope- and booze-deluded characters to kick off the 21st century with a thud. At the center is Jonathan Scarver, a CEO who is helming Internet start-up company Allminder.com toward a public offering he's convinced will shower him in riches. No one, apparently, has noticed that the Allminder hasn't turned a profit, that the company exploits some of its immigrant workers through a shady deal Scarver crafted, and that the exec is cheating on his wife. So far the company has the appropriately edgy image, thanks to its p.r. exec Brad Smith. Smith can spin away almost any threat, even if he has to crawl to work after nightly debauches at the Flatiron district's trendiest watering holes. But Allminder's resentful, underappreciated systems analyst Steven Bluestein has sniffed out what's going on at the company by hacking into e-mails in which company members divulge damaging information. The nerd's predictable revenge finds him forwarding the messages to where they can do the most damage-to the exploited, deceived, and victimized. When he does, not even Smith can sweep away the damage and chaos that results as Allminder crashes. Still, art and affection triumph in a hasty, tacked-on ending that suggests Smith will someday finish the novel he's started, and that he'll team up personally with Nicole Garrison, who, in some good scenes, circles the narrative's periphery as an actress/waitress waiting for the big break and the right guy. Plotting andstructure wobble, but Williams can usually nail his characters with a whack in funny scenes that freshen the familiar (see also, Bonfire of the Vanities; Bright Lights, Big City; The Best of Everything; Valley of the Dolls, etc.).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585674503
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
03/30/2004
Series:
Sewanee Writers' Series
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.65(w) x 8.35(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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