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Peyton Amberg

Peyton Amberg

by Tama Janowitz

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In her sizzling new novel, Tama Janowitz moves beyond the world of the single woman (Slaves of New York, A Certain Age), and now targets a young woman growing ever restless in her marriage, and ever hopeful that the next bed will produce someone more exciting. As she moves from man to man, Peyton Amberg slowly but surely loses her youthfulness, her good


In her sizzling new novel, Tama Janowitz moves beyond the world of the single woman (Slaves of New York, A Certain Age), and now targets a young woman growing ever restless in her marriage, and ever hopeful that the next bed will produce someone more exciting. As she moves from man to man, Peyton Amberg slowly but surely loses her youthfulness, her good looks, even her sanity, as her paramours become rougher and the sex more dangerous.

A savvy riff on the classic figure of Madam Bovary, Peyton Amberg is a caustic and brilliant satire of contemporary marriage as it is undermined by free-floating lust and exploits of a woman yearning for fulfillment outside of rigid societal structure.

Peyton Amberg is nasty, funny, jaundiced, sarcastic, searingly honest, and mesmerizing from beginning to end.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Janowitz's harsh view of modern sex and her smooth way around the ugliest of encounters can makes for vivid reading. She writes with brazen realism, but replaces Flaubert's poetic brutality with crude shocks. — Mary Elizabeth Williams
Publishers Weekly
Peyton Amberg is a travel agent who really gets around-in more ways than one. In her latest no-holds-barred take on urban malaise, Janowitz (Slaves of New York, etc.) chronicles the international romps of a modern-day Madame Bovary. With her stunning looks ("usually it would be impossible to find a man who, physically, was her equal"), Peyton has no trouble luring men to bed, but under pressure from her manic-depressive mother, she hastily marries an unsuspecting dentist for money and out of fear that no one else will deem her marriageable. Struck with a bout of ennui after her wedding and tired of trying to live up to the expectations of her in-laws, she rushes back to work and almost immediately takes a cheap trip to Brazil, where she meets a debonair German-Italian man, Germano. In the first of many misadventures, Peyton holes up with Germano in her hotel room, where she is wined and dined and otherwise entertained. With her libido unleashed, she finds it next to impossible to return to a normal life in her apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and she pulls further away from her husband and, eventually, her young son. Though she perceives herself as self-sufficient, she becomes more and more addicted to her extramarital hanky panky ("A monkey in the zoo... could not have gone on a wilder bender on a weekend pass from its cage"), finding satisfaction in the beds of gangster Xian Rong in Hong Kong and cowboy Sandy in Vegas. Peyton's overactive id and sense of dissatisfaction seem a bit contrived at times, and her comeuppance rather old-fashioned, but Janowitz's trademark mix of humor and gross-out realism give the novel a queasy charge. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Janowitz has been through plenty of ups and downs since the publication of her best-selling The Slaves of New York in 1986, but here she returns to form. In her twenties, Peyton marries a dentist named Barry because he seems "nice." The marriage disappoints her from the time she starts planning the wedding with her pathetic but pretentious prospective mother-in-law. Soon after, she develops a taste for casual sex with men in exotic locales-a desire that is easily satisfied when she becomes a travel agent. It may seem that Peyton is in control, but she is ultimately used and discarded by the men she encounters. The time frame shifts throughout, and readers gradually realize the profound depths of Peyton's alienation from her own life. Part satire, part grim reality, this work brutally dissects the nature of what parades as a happy marriage in America. For all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/03.]-Diana McRae, San Lorenzo Lib., CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Still best known for Slaves of New York (1986), Janowitz, in her ninth fiction, details the sexual odyssey of a self-described slut. Peyton was raised in Boston on the wrong side of the tracks, where sexual innocence was a sign of weakness. Her well-bred mother, Nell, was disowned after marrying a car mechanic, who later deserted them. Manic-depressive Nell is responsible for Peyton's low self-esteem, always telling her she has no brains; so, despite her stunning attractiveness, she has no idea how to market herself. It's sheer good luck that she meets Barry Amberg, a nice Jewish boy from Long Island just starting out as a dentist, with a thing for "dark-haired shiksas with big boobs." His mother, Grace, pegs Peyton as a tramp but still foots the bill for a huge fancy wedding. The Jamaican honeymoon is not a success, though Barry is crazy about his "sexy princess" and Peyton is glad to have married up, though she's bothered that Barry "didn't seem to exist." He exists for the reader, but only as the stereotype of a hypochondriac Jew, while Peyton is little more than a collection of body parts. This nonlinear narrative randomly splices scenes from Peyton's married life (the two produce one child) with various extramarital sexual escapades. Her first splurge happens in Rio, early in the marriage, with Germano, a cosmopolitan and filthy-rich older man. (Peyton is a travel agent now.) Years later, closing in on 50, Peyton has the hots for this Chinese guy in Hong Kong, a thief preying on rich airline passengers; but again, the sex is wild, which makes it all okay. After he dumps her, Peyton hits rock bottom. We leave her in Antwerp, lice in her hair, nowhere to turn. Occasional flashes ofhumor (the honeymoon is a good comic sketch), but overall dreary and joyless: those sexcapades aside, the novel is permeated by a disgust for the body that extends to Peyton suckling her baby. Author tour. Agent: Betsy Lerner/Gernert Agency

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.18(d)

Meet the Author

Tama Janowitz exploded into the literary scene in 1986 with her second book, the New York Times bestselling The Slaves of New York. She has received two National Endowment for the Arts awards for fiction and the Alfred Hodder Fellowship in the Humanities from Princeton University. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and the New York Times Magazine and has been translated into twenty languages. Peyton Amberg is her ninth book and a collection of her non-fiction is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. Tama Janowitz lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

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