The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Red Book

The Red Book

3.4 26
by Deborah Copaken Kogan

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"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation."
—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989.

Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window shuts.


"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation."
—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989.

Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window shuts. Addison's marriage to a writer's-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood closed its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her children, renovating and acquiring faster than her husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss.

Like all Harvard grads, they've kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing alumni autobiographical essays. But there's the story we tell the world, and then there's the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion, a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend."

Utterly engrossing."
Entertainment Weekly"

A wonderfully epic 'cradle to grave' story . . . about the enduring power of friendship."
Sunday Express"

Destined to be a classic."
Vanity Fair

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As readers of photojournalist and author Kogan’s second novel learn, Harvard doesn’t content itself with the alumni mags and e-mails and letters other colleges make do with: before big reunions, it sends out a bound crimson book containing alumni updates on their lives, a reunion cheat sheet that gives Kogan both her title and structural framework. That exasperated sigh you hear, from those of us who didn’t go to Harvard, carries through the first pages, which feature the entries of Kogan’s four main characters: WASPy Addison Cornwall Hunt, an artist and trust funder living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; black, commune-raised Lehman Brothers managing director Clover Pace Love; Jewish ex-actress and stay-at-home mom Mia Mandelbaum Zane, splitting her time between L.A. and France; and Boston Globe journalist Jane Nguyen Streeter, born in Vietnam, raised in the American suburbs, and based in Paris. Their entries are obviously written to impress and to cover up; real life is what happens before and after, which, in this case, means these class of ’89ers’ 20-plus years of friendship and the three days that constitute their 20th reunion and the bulk of Kogan’s book. What starts out feeling like a marketing-driven “women’s” book—the perfect read for a mani-pedi—turns out to be a smart, funny, engrossing, and action-packed meditation on women’s lives, growing up, having and not having it all, class and the expectations that come with having gone to Harvard, love lost and found, infidelity and sexuality, and finally, loss and lying, especially to yourself. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick & Williams. (Apr.)
Adam Gopnik
"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation."
Entertainment Weekly
"Utterly engrossing."
Sunday Express
"A wonderfully epic 'cradle to grave' story . . . about the enduring power of friendship."
Vanity Fair
"Destined to be a classic."
From the Publisher
"A wonderfully epic 'cradle to grave' story . . . about the enduring power of friendship."—Sunday Express"

Destined to be a classic."—Vanity Fair

Product Details

Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Red Book


Hyperion Books

Copyright © 2012 Deborah Copaken Kogan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-4082-7

Chapter One

Friday, June 5, 2009


It had simply never occurred to Addison that the Cambridge Police Department not only kept two-decade-old records of unpaid parking tickets, but that they could also use the existence of her overdue fines, on the eve of her twentieth college reunion, to arrest her in front of Gunner and the kids. If such a scenario had struck her as even remotely possible, she'd be thinking twice about zooming through that red light on Memorial Drive.

But it hadn't, so here we go.

"Oh my God, look at these idiots," she says, slamming her hand down hard on the horn of her blue and white 1963 VW Microbus, which she purchased online one night in a fit of kitsch nostalgia. Or that's the story she tells friends when they ask what she was thinking buying a vehicle that takes weeks or even months to fix when it breaks down, for want of parts. "Take my advice: don't ever go on eBay stoned," she'll say, whenever the conversation veers toward car ownership, online shopping, or adult pot use. "You'll end up with a first generation off the master Cornell '77 along with the friggin' bus the dude drove to the show."

While the story is technically true, the impetus behind the purchase was much more about economic necessity, practicality, and appearances than Addison likes to admit. For one, she and Gunner couldn't afford a new Prius. They refused, on ecological principle, to buy a used SUV, or rather they refused to be put in the position of being judged for owning an SUV. (While they loved the earth as much as the next family, they weren't above, strictly speaking, adding a supersize vehicle to its surface for the sake of convenience.) A cheap compact, with three kids and a rescued black Lab, was out of the question. And they couldn't wrap their heads around the image of themselves at the helm of a minivan. To be a part of their close-knit circle of friends, all of whom have at least one toe dipped in the alternative art scene in Williamsburg, meant upholding a certain level of épater-le-bourgeois aesthetics. If a minivan or even a station wagon could have been done ironically, believe her, it would have.

Traffic in front of the Microbus has halted, an admixture of the normal clogged arteries at the Charles River crossings during rush hour compounded by the arterial plaque of reunion weekend attendees, those thousands of additional vehicles that appear every June like clockwork, loaded up with alumni families and faded memories, the latter triggered out of dormancy by the sight of the crimson cupola of Dunster House or the golden dome of Adams House or the Eliot House clock tower, such that any one of the drivers blocking Addison's path to Harvard Square might be thinking, as Addison is right now (catching a glimpse of the nondescript window on the sixth floor of that disaster of a modernist building that is Mather House), There, right there: That's where I first fucked her.

No, that wasn't a typo. Prior to marrying Gunner, Addison spent almost two years in a relationship with a woman. This, she likes to remind everyone, was before "Girls Gone Wild," before the acronym LUG ("lesbian until graduation") had even debuted in the Times, so she'd appreciate it if you wouldn't accuse her of following a trend, okay?

If anything, Addison has come to realize, thanks to a cut-rate Jungian who came highly recommended, Bennie was just one more way—like the roommates she wound up choosing—she'd been trying to shake off her pedigree, to prove to herself and to others that she had more depth and facets than her staid history and prep school diploma would suggest. Addison may have been one of the eighth generation of Hunts to matriculate from Harvard, but she would be the first not to heed the siren call of Wall Street. For one, she had no facility with numbers. For another, she'd seen what Wall Street had done to her father. He, too, had been enamored of the stroke of fresh Golden's on canvas from the moment he could hold a paintbrush, but he'd tossed his wooden box of acrylics into the back of the closet of his Park Avenue duplex—where it gathered dust until Addison happened upon it one day during a game of hide-and-seek—because that's what Hunts did: They subsumed themselves into their Brooks Brothers suits. The cirrhosis that killed him in his early fifties, when Addison was just a sophomore in college, was no act of God. It was an act, every glass-tinkling night, of desperation.

Bennie was the first person in her life to make that suggestion. Out loud, at least, and to Addison's face. And though both Bennie and her pronoun were aberrations in the arc of Addison's sexual history, what the two had together—although Addison would only be able to understand this in retrospect, per the cut-rate Jungian—was love.


Excerpted from The Red Book by DEBORAH COPAKEN KOGAN Copyright © 2012 by Deborah Copaken Kogan. Excerpted by permission of Hyperion Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Adam Gopnik
The Big Chill for the Facebook generation. (Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon)
Ayelet Waldman
I gobbled up The Red Book in two days, ignoring my work, my family, my life, so immersed was I in the lives of the people Deborah Copaken Kogan has so masterfully brought to life. Kogan's eye is at once wry and empathetic, and the book is a delight. (Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road)
Dani Shapiro
Striking, funny, sad, and true-to-life, The Red Book sweeps us into the intersecting lives of characters who all started their adult lives in the same place, but upon whom time works both its magic and its entropy. Deborah Copaken Kogan is a deeply feeling writer, and this novel is a joy to read. (Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion)
Meg Wolitzer
The Red Book, which is filled with Deborah Copaken Kogan's smart take on everything from friendship to sex to child raising to getting over the past—or not—makes for old-school compulsive reading. (Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling)

Meet the Author

Deborah Copaken Kogan worked as a photojournalist from 1988 to 1992, and her photographs appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L'Express, Liberation, and Geo, among many other international newspapers and magazines. She spent the next six years in TV journalism, including a time as a producer for Dateline NBC. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times and elsewhere. She is a Harvard alumna. She lives in New York City with her husband, Paul Kogan, and their three children.

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