Meet John Trow

Meet John Trow

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by Thomas Dyja

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"Steven Armour is a man at a crossroad: at forty-one, his rise up the career ladder has slowed to a crawl, and his family is slipping out of control. But life takes a dramatic turn for Steven when, on a whim, he joins a local group of Civil War re-enactors." Assigned to immerse himself in the life of Private John Trow, Steven soon finds that his weekends at the living…  See more details below


"Steven Armour is a man at a crossroad: at forty-one, his rise up the career ladder has slowed to a crawl, and his family is slipping out of control. But life takes a dramatic turn for Steven when, on a whim, he joins a local group of Civil War re-enactors." Assigned to immerse himself in the life of Private John Trow, Steven soon finds that his weekends at the living history village on Connecticut's Mt. Riga let him escape his everyday disappointments. The complex drills of the Union army seem to come to him naturally, the men of the regiment become his friends, and his growing infatuation with Polly Kellogg, the wife of the regiment's captain, fires a passion that had cooled with his own wife, Patty. While the world around him races faster and faster toward the millennium, Steven turns to the simple consolations of nineteenth-century life, a choice that, strangely enough, starts to straighten out both his family and his job. But so thoroughly does Steven embrace the life of John Trow that even Steven begins to wonder if he is just playing a part, or whether the unquiet spirit of John Trow is taking him over. As Steven's identity slips through his fingers, he must ask himself what - and who - he is willing to sacrifice to become the man he believes he should have been.

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Editorial Reviews

Seattle Times
A fine novel that draws you in slowly, then grips you tightly and holds you to its surprising ending.
Boston Herald
Part social satire, part ghost story, this delightful, entertaining novel should be a hit...
Entertainment Weekly
Thomas Dyja's haunting novel unfolds like a new-millennium Babbitt with a supernatural twist...Dyja unpacks plausible surprises as he lampoons the modern obsession with nostalgia and explores the very nature of identity. Rating: A
Chris Bohjalian
...wondrous, wry and moving...a joy...a novel as surprising as it is poignant.
Washington Post
Miami Herald of the year's best barnburners...Dyja demonstrates a rare dramatic timing that propels his story at a sharp pace...Meet John Trow is the best book on obsession and the crises of middle age since Nabokov set his pedophile loose.
San Francisco Chronicle
Dyja adroitly builds the suspense as Steven falls deeper into the virual reality of the a parable for the snares and delusions of our times, Meet John Trow is richly rewarding indeed.
Providence Journal
His depictions of life in present-day small town America, the smoke screen allure of simpler times, the hollow romance of Civil War history, Steven Armour's descent into schizoid delusion as John Trow all hit the bull's-eye with unerring accuracy. Meet John Trow is alternately hilarious and harrowing, touching and perturbing. From start to finish, it is consistently entertaining.
...full of time-bending surprises...superb...Equal parts historical drama, ghost story, romance and mystery...a vital critique of millennial malaise.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Thomas Dyja's superbly knowing, entertaining, and downright literary second novel, Meet John Trow, moves the author into the top rank of serious young American novelists.
Publishers Weekly
Darkly comic...Dyja skillfully and humorously evokes the constant computer, television and general pop culture static that clouds Steven's vision, as well as the crack of musket fire and whiff of gunpowder in Riga Village...Dyja taps into some powerful 21st century anxieties and fantasies, which should help him attract new readers.
Washington Post Book World
Wondrous, wry and moving.... a novel as surprising as it is poignant. —Chris Bohjalian
Kirkus Reviews
An unfortunately sluggish first 50 pages give little hint of the riches of characterization, plot, and theme to be found in this superb second novel from the author of Play for a Kingdom. Once again, Dyja's subject is the Civil War—this time as "lived" by re-enactors at Riga Village, a historic mountaintop settlement in northwestern Connecticut. The homage paid to the past there attracts the attention of Steven Armour, a former history major, and a minor executive who manages Web sites for the Dilly-Perkins food conglomerate, with a mixture of general competence and periodic bad judgment that also afflicts his experience of marriage and parenthood. Joining the re-enactors, Steven is assigned the character of John Trow, a nondescript soldier whose unheroic life nevertheless begins to exert a strong fascination, especially when accumulating evidence suggests a secret Trow had shared with Polly Kellogg, wife of Trow's superior officer. Dyja pulls out one dazzling surprise after another, as Steven finds himself drawn to the married woman playing Mrs. Kellogg, endangering relationships with his impatient wife Patti and their two (brilliantly drawn) children, and alternately seduced and repelled by the possibly ghostly presence of Trow, "who" appears to be saying to Steven, "I am the person you want to be." This is a terrific subject, seldom if ever previously treated in fiction. Dyja makes the presence of the past all the more potent by juxtaposing against it the commercial world clamoring for Steven's attention (most memorably in such absurdities as Dilly-Perkins's Thanksgiving Day Parade float, embodying "a magical trip through the world of dumplings and pasta"). And it climaxesstunningly, at the Riga Villagers' reenactment of the catastrophic battle of Cold Harbor, with Steven fully possessed of the truth about John Trow, and prepared to discover whether he will or will not "become" him. Every bit as entertaining and gripping as it is ingenious.

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.42(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Kurt Andersen
Chucking it all is an urge every twenty-first century American occasionally feels, or ought to. In Meet John Trow, Thomas Dyja uses that impulse to drive a novel that's part business satire, part domestic drama, part postmodern ghost story. And the whole thing works like a dream.
Jonathan Dee
Thomas Dyja has created a modern archetype in Steven Armour, a man in desperate need of some authenticity in his life who, in the end, gets more authenticity than he bargained for.
— Jonathan Dee, author of Palladio

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Meet John Trow 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago