Readers familiar with Lopate's finely crafted, stylistically fastidious ``personal'' essays in the collection Bachelorhood will recognize immediately the protagonist of his current novel. Rug merchant Cyrus Irani is a middle-aged, steadfast bachelor brought here in childhood from his native Iran. A literary intellectual and esthete, by nature he is melancholic, introspective, painfully shy, an endlessly self-examining ``devotee of silence''as he says, a ``superfluous'' man. Troubles dog him: the avaricious landlords of his upwardly mobile Manhattan West Side neighborhood triple the rent on his marginally profitable rug shop; his relationships with women tend to dissolve into loss and pathos; his mother nags him to marry a nice Zoroastrian girl and settle down to raise a family in the orthodox tradition. What he's up to in a ``swing club,'' where anything goes, is rooted as much in desperation and self-denial as it is in a seizure of desire. Lopate maintains a tone and atmosphere of genteel defeat in his sensitive portrait, and that is the novel's high achievement. Getting shot and nearly killed by a holdup man seems more than Irani can bear, but he survives. In the end he is left only with the heavy burden of the rest of his life. (March)
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Meet the Author
Philip Lopate is the author of Against Joie de Vivre, Bachelorhood, The Rug Merchant, Being with Children, and Confessions of Summer. A recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, his works have appeared in Best American Essays, The Paris Review, Pushcart Prize annuals, and many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is Adams Professor of English at Hofstra University.