Spring

Spring

3.5 2
by David Szalay
     
 

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The U.S. debut of leading U.K. author David Szalay, named one of The Daily Telegraph's twenty best British novelists under forty

James is a man with a checkered past—sporadic entrepreneur, one-time film producer, almost a dot-com millionaire—now alone in a flat in Bloomsbury, running a shady horse-racing-tips operation. Katherine is a

Overview

The U.S. debut of leading U.K. author David Szalay, named one of The Daily Telegraph's twenty best British novelists under forty

James is a man with a checkered past—sporadic entrepreneur, one-time film producer, almost a dot-com millionaire—now alone in a flat in Bloomsbury, running a shady horse-racing-tips operation. Katherine is a manager at a luxury hotel, a job she'd intended to leave years ago, and is separated from her husband. The novel unfolds in 2006, at the end of the money-for-nothing years, as a chance meeting leads to an awkward tryst and James tries to make sense of a relationship where "no" means "maybe" and a "yes" can never be taken for granted.

David Szalay builds a novel of immense resonance as he cycles though perspectives that add layers of depth to the hesitations, missteps, and tensions as James tries to win Katherine. James's other pursuit is money, and Spring follows his investments and schemes, from a half share in a thoroughbred to a suit-and-tie day job he's taken to pay the bills. Spring is a sharply tuned novel so nuanced and precise in its psychology that it establishes Szalay as a major talent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If you’ve ever wondered what two people were thinking when they became a couple, wonder no more. Award-winning British novelist Szalay (London and the South-East) parses a romantic relationship with exquisite—and excruciating—attention to subterranean emotions. James, whose entrepreneurial streak caused him to skip university and, with money from a food franchise, make his mark in the film business, rode the dot-com boom to its inevitable failure. He now depends on a horseracing scheme to bolster his once palatial, currently more ordinary, lifestyle. Katherine works at a posh hotel where she intends to learn the ropes and open her own establishment, and is rebounding from an unsatisfying marriage to a cheating husband. After meeting at a wedding, they begin a relationship rife with incredible awkwardness, missed signals, and misinterpretations as well as dazzling promise—their sexual relationship marked with similar highs and lows. Szalay’s insights into the perspectives of both sexes illuminate the complexity and fragility of romantic coupling. His knowing eye and exacting prose (“Their weekend together had been pared down to the pathetic rind of Sunday evening”) bring perspicacity to the complications of love. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Plenty of novelists have captivated readers with stories of passionate new relationships full of romance, optimism, and hot sex. In Spring, David Szalay pulls off a much harder trick, writing engrossingly about new lovers who manage to go straight to irritation, pessimism and pain. . . . This might be pretty bleak stuff if Szalay were not such a lyrical, precise writer, deftly capturing the hyperawareness that often stands in for real communication between couples. This awkward dance may be anything but dreamy, but it's irresistible to watch.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“[Szalay] doesn't shy away from anything, including awkward sex, in his vivisection of this unpromising affair. The result is an intense portrait of the challenging complexity of really connecting with someone.” —Barnes & Noble Review

“Szalay is anything but traditional in his approach to romance. . . . [He] has a modern, understated voice and a gift for writing bursts of funny, yet still sharp, dialogue.” —Shelf Awareness

“[A] nuanced and bracingly intelligent dissection of contemporary London life. . . . Szalay provides a sharp and occasionally humorous portrait not only of [James and Katherine] but of the mores of 21st-century romance among those for whom romance has had its old glamour grubbed up a bit by age, world-weariness and the demands of everyday life. Subtle in its psychology, elegantly written, with lively and amusing minor characters--an impressive novel.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In Spring the gifted writer David Szalay explores the complex worlds of love and money, each with their surprises and vicissitudes. This novel made me feel in the best way that I was eavesdropping on a series of fascinating conversations. An insightful portrait of contemporary England.” —Margot Livesey

“[Szalay] draws his main characters with subtly devastating insight.” —The Boston Globe

“Szalay's insights into the perspectives of both sexes illuminate the complexity and fragility of romantic coupling. His knowing eye and exacting prose . . . bring perspicacity to the complications of love.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Szalay] gets to the heart of what it means to encounter disappointment and heartache. His characters . . . are skilled in picking up the pieces of their broken lives and moving on to something better, however elusive better may prove to be.” —Booklist

“Closely and elegantly observed. . . . Szalay seems to taunt the reader with his near-virtuosic range and his subtle comic touch.” —The National Post (Canada)

“Lambent prose, which glitters and glints.” —Daily Mail

“A brave venture . . . psychologically realistic.” —Financial Times

Library Journal
James and Katherine, confused London hipsters, have recently entered into a relationship of sorts in Szalay's third novel (after The Innocent), which is also his U.S. debut. James is a wheeler-dealer who won and lost a fortune in the Internet boom and bust and has since embarked on a series of ventures of dubious legality. Katherine works in a posh London hotel, where she first met her estranged husband, a paparazzo stalking a starlet. It's not clear what James sees in Katherine, who is emotionally unavailable and does not appear to enjoy his company. Most of their conversations consist of: "What do you want to do?" "I don't know." The chapters are narrated from different perspectives, alternating among those of James, Katherine, and a couple of minor characters. VERDICT This novel may offer an accurate depiction of a contemporary relationship, in which nothing happens and no one can articulate what he or she wants, but it doesn't make for absorbing reading. Szalay's fine writing and flashes of insight can't rescue this novel from its insipid, tiresome, and self-absorbed characters.—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A precise portrait of a blurry affair. The third novel (and American debut) by the Canadian-born Szalay, one of the Daily Telegraph's Best 20 British Novelists Under 40, is a somewhat cold but nuanced and bracingly intelligent dissection of contemporary London life. James is a 30-something one-time dot-com megamillionaire now reduced to a meager middle-class existence with his dog, and reduced, too, to eking out a living via various iffy schemes, among them a shady business as a horse-racing tipster. Katherine, manager of a luxury hotel, is estranged from her husband, Fraser, an aging paparazzo who strayed with an underwear model, was exiled and now--perhaps a bit too desperately and adoringly for her comfort--wants his wife back. Szalay vivisects the awkward, tentative relationship that develops between Katherine and James, a sporadic companionship-with-benefits that is shadowed and complicated by the possibility of a resumption of her marriage to Fraser. She blows hot and cold, can be remote and enigmatic; he can seem needy and sex-obsessed. But both have appeal, too. James exudes a boyish sweetness and eagerness, and Katherine's hesitation and unreadability have less to do with emotional remoteness or with being a belle dame sans merci than with her genuine grief and confusion about what happened to her marriage. Both lovers are prone to ruthless postmortem examinations of their every encounter, and Szalay provides a sharp and occasionally humorous portrait not only of these two people but of the mores of 21st-century romance among those for whom romance has had its old glamour grubbed up a bit by age, world-weariness and the demands of everyday life. Subtle in its psychology, elegantly written, with lively and amusing minor characters--an impressive novel, but one with a slight morguelike chill.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555976026
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
01/17/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
396,619
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.77(d)

Meet the Author

David Szalay was born in Canada in 1974. His first novel, London and the South-East, won the Betty Trask Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His second novel, The Innocent, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2009. He lives in London.

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Spring 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No AAsss reviews needed why leave out text page count
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful!