Triburbia

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Thrown together by circumstance, a group of fathers—a sound engineer, a sculptor, a film producer, a chef, a memoirist, a gangster—meets each morning at a local Tribeca coffee shop after walking their children to their exclusive school.

The sound engineer looks uncomfortably like the guy on the sex offender posters strewn around the neighborhood; the memoirist is on the verge of being outed for fabricating his experiences; and the narcissistic chef puts his quest for the perfect...

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Triburbia

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Overview

Thrown together by circumstance, a group of fathers—a sound engineer, a sculptor, a film producer, a chef, a memoirist, a gangster—meets each morning at a local Tribeca coffee shop after walking their children to their exclusive school.

The sound engineer looks uncomfortably like the guy on the sex offender posters strewn around the neighborhood; the memoirist is on the verge of being outed for fabricating his experiences; and the narcissistic chef puts his quest for the perfect quail-egg frittata before his children's well-being. Over the course of a single school year, we are privy to their secrets, passions, and hopes, and learn of their dreams deferred as they confront harsh realities about ambition, wealth, and sex. And we meet their wives and children, who together with these men are discovering the hard truths and welcome surprises that accompany family, marriage, and real estate at midlife.

Fascinatingly layered and multidimensional, these linked stories, arranged like puzzle pieces, create a powerful portrait of unlikely friends and their neighborhood in transition. Striking chords that range from haunting and heartbreaking to darkly funny and deeply poignant, Triburbia marks the start of a brilliant literary career.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this absorbing first novel, Greenfeld (Boy Alone, a memoir) brings to life the capacious lofts, self-involved chefs, and occasional rent control holdouts of Manhattan’s affluent TriBeCa neighborhood (home to Robert De Niro and Jay-Z, among other celebs). Each chapter (titled by local addresses, such as 145 Greenwich, 65 Hudson, and 47 Lispenard) is told from the perspective of a different local character, from the fabulously affluent to the rent control holdouts. Their lives intersect and overlap because their children attend the same school, they’re sleeping with one another’s spouses, or, in Sadie’s case, because she’s the babysitter or, in Cooper’s case, because she’s queen of the fourth grade. Greenfeld’s chameleon-like ease for shifting characters refracts through the distinct language of thought, the emotional underpinnings of choices made, and the ways in which every life feels both unique and familiar, and his female characters are as authentic, if not more so, than the men. The result is a webby world in which details blend, repeat, and sometimes fade, exactly like running into a neighbor at the corner deli and not quite remembering who his brother is or with whom he may have had an affair. Early on, the book feels precariously provincial—beholden to the local jargon of real estate, gourmet food, and the distinctively insane obstacles of New York City public schools. And empathy for rich people, no matter how flawed, can be a tough sell these days. Ultimately, though, Greenfeld wields his critiques, humor, and observations to create a compelling little universe that will matter even to outsiders who don’t know that Lispenard Street will never be as glamorous as Greenwhich St. Agent: Billy Kingsland, Kuhn Projects. (Aug.)
Entertainment Weekly (A-)
“Greenfeld taps into something universal with Triburbia. . . . An accomplished journalist, Greenfeld brings a reporter’s curiosity and an artist’s empathy to his crackling, observant first novel.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Compelling. . . . Greenfeld brilliantly illuminates the pecking order and power plays behind the smug façade of this fashionable urban fortress . . . A surprising, involving, and strikingly perceptive tale of social and personal metamorphoses.”
People
“Greenfeld reveals his characters’ humanity with sly humor and an unerring eye.”
People
“Greenfeld reveals his characters’ humanity with sly humor and an unerring eye.”
Entertainment Weekly
"Greenfeld taps into something universal with Triburbia. . . . An accomplished journalist, Greenfeld brings a reporter’s curiosity and an artist’s empathy to his crackling, observant first novel."
Boston Globe
“Greenfeld is an acute social observer, but Triburbia is more than a chronicle of fading hipness; it’s also a loving examination of marital and family trials and ties.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“The pleasures of Karl Taro Greenfeld’s writing are easy to catalog — a crystalline, terrifically readable prose style; a vast repository of trenchant observations; and a caustic sense of humor that recalls Jonathan Franzen yet with a refreshing economy of speech.”
The Observer
Dubliners for the middle-aged downtown set. . . . Mr. Greenfeld’s prose is as lean and declarative as a newspaper article, though there are moments of creepy comic brilliance.”
Downtown Magazine
Triburbia is darkly humorous, occasionally lascivious, unsparing in its condemnations of the main characters and intrepid in its honest descriptions of the human conscience… But it’s not a sad book. It’s a candid one. And a good one. It is reassuring, cathartic even.”
Shelf Awareness
Triburbia is a snapshot of a Manhattan subculture at a certain moment in time. . . . An acclaimed memoirist and journalist turns to fiction to capture the spirit of his neighborhood in the full throes of gentrification.”
Booklist
"Compelling. . . . Greenfeld brilliantly illuminates the pecking order and power plays behind the smug façade of this fashionable urban fortress . . . A surprising, involving, and strikingly perceptive tale of social and personal metamorphoses."
Jay McInerney
“Greenfeld’s sensitivity to nuances of the zeitgeist and his keen observational skills make his characters (some of whom will seem eerily familiar to longtime residents of downtown Manhattan) instantly recognizable as creatures of their time and place without quite denying them their humanity.”
People Magazine
"Greenfeld reveals his characters’ humanity with sly humor and an unerring eye."
Susan Orlean
“Pitch-perfect, dry, and smart, this is a vivid portrait of New York, our lives, our loves, and our hearts.”
Eleanor Henderson
Triburbia is a chorus of voices so sharp, vivid, and finely tuned that New York sounds as if it’s speaking directly to us. But more than a portrait of a neighborhood, it’s also an absorbing exposé of the extravagant preoccupations and dark desires of the new millennium.”
Amelia Gray
“Voyeurism this seductive and satisfying is usually attended with a trespassing charge. Thanks are owed to Karl Taro Greenfeld for removing the nasty middleman of legal repercussion.”
Jess Walter
“I loved Triburbia, loved dropping in on these wonderful characters with their outsized appetites and ambitions . . . Most of all, though, I loved Karl Taro Greenfeld’s deft satirical touch, the searing empathy with which he offers up his privileged, damaged people to the world.”
Benjamin Percy
Triburbia, should share space on the shelf next to Tom Perrotta’s Little Children and Jeffery Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides.”
Ben Fountain
“The excellent Triburbia brings to mind such modern masters as Cheever, Updike, and Salter, but Greenfeld delivers his own wonderfully sharp-eyed take on recent American life. . . . This is fiction of the first rank—intense, suspenseful, and relevant in the most urgent way.”
Hannah Tinti
“Set on the streets of Manhattan’s Tribeca as it transforms from an artist’s haven to a place for yuppies and their children, Triburbia showcases Karl Taro Greenfeld’s exceptional talent as both a storyteller and satirist.”
Kirkus Reviews
A half-dozen fathers in the fashionable environs of Tribeca circa 2008 struggle with regret, ambition, family and secrets on their way to the playground. They're a not-so-diverse group, the guys who populate the first novel by memoirist/journalist Greenfeld (Boy Alone, 2009, etc.). Thrown together by geography, a group of dads commiserate over breakfast, survey their peers for advice and bicker like little old ladies much of the time. They're so universal, in fact, that each chapter identifies each man not by name, but by address. 113 North Moore is the Asian-American sound mixologist who studies his daughters like they're a foreign species. 65 Hudson is the secretive husband who's having an affair with another member's wife. 47 Lispenard is the artist whose "punk puppetry" is now old hat in fast-moving Tribeca. "The hurt was three-fold: the art, the money, the girl," he muses. 57 Warren Street is really the only anomaly in the interconnected stories, starring Rankin, a Jewish gangster who finds his comrades tiresome but serves a vital purpose in their lives. "For most of the men, Rankin also served as the living embodiment of warning," Greenfeld writes. "Of whom you never want to turn to. Of a desperation you hope you will never feel." While the stories are well-composed, the novel is often disjointed, and some characters are so bland as to be nearly unnoticeable--the film producer who frets about neighborhood pedophiles, the playwright whose success the others find unfathomable. And others are oh-so-naughties, as is the case with the story of 85 West Broadway, the memoirist with an autistic son whose flashy stories about Japan and his own drug addiction turn out to be fabrications. It's pretty evident that Greenfeld is mining his life experiences for fiction, but that doesn't give them the ring of truth. It could be challenging for readers to drum up sympathy for wealthy young men with rich world problems. A soapy portrait of pre-economic-crisis Manhattan.
The New York Times Book Review
…an artful and casually cohesive work of fiction imbued with anthropological insight…Greenfeld has a gift for satire, but it's balanced by a sense of sympathy for his faux bohemians, and by the self-consciousness of most of his characters, who know that they're types even as they insist on their individuality. Greenfeld is attuned to the fleeting details of cultural fashion: of speech, dress and mores that are the weft of character. His TriBeCa husbands and wives and their children play out their biological and vocational destinies within a precise historical moment.
—Jay McInerney
From the Publisher
Starred Review. "...a compelling little universe that will matter even to outsiders who don't know that Lispenard Street will never be as glamorous as Greenwich Street. " - Publishers Weekly
A- "An accomplished journalist, Greenfeld brings a reporter's curiosity and an artist's empathy to his crackling, observant first novel." - Entertainment Weekly
"Greenfeld has a gift for satire, but it's balanced by a sense of sympathy for his faux bohemians, and by the self-consciousness of most of his characters, who know that they're types even as they insist on their individuality." - The New York Times
"...a loose, fast, and fun read for the end of summer. And for observers of lower Manhattan social circles, it can also be an especially juicy one." - W Magazine
"Intriguingly layered and multidimensional, these linked stories, arranged like puzzle pieces, create a powerful portrait of unlikely friends and their neighborhood in transition. Triburbia strikes chords that range from haunting and heartbreaking to darkly funny and deeply poignant." - The Washington Independent Review of Books
"Here's another book that does better as an audiobook than it does in print... The audiobook is entertaining and clever, and it brings out the strengths of the text." - Metapsychology.net
"The excellent Triburbia brings to mind such modern masters as Cheever, Updike, and Salter, but Greenfeld delivers his own wonderfully sharp-eyed take on recent American life...This is fiction of the first rank - intense, suspenseful, and relevant in the most urgent way." - Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"Pitch-perfect, dry, and smart, this is a vivid portrait of New York, our lives, our loves, and our hearts." - Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief
"I loved Triburbia, loved dropping in on these wonderful characters with their outsized appetites and ambitions, the lithe and lively prose, the way the book swirls in and out of these lives and maps perfectly a place and a moment in time. Most of all, though, I loved Karl Taro Greenfeld's deft satirical touch, the searing empathy with which he offers up his privileged, damaged people to the world." - Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins and The Financial Lives of the Poets
"Karl Taro Greenfeld has been writing deeply thoughtful memoirs and firecracker journalism for years, and now he's proven himself equally gifted as a fiction writer. His first novel, Triburbia, should share space on the shelf next to Tom Perrotta's Little Children and Jeffery Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides as it follows a swirling cast of characters who all believe they have found a blessed suburb where everyone is hungry for something - sex, money, real estate, status - none of which prove satisfying." - Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh
"Triburbia is a chorus of voices so sharp, vivid, and finely tuned that New York sounds as if it's speaking directly to us. But more than a portrait of a neighborhood, it's also an absorbing expose of the extravagant preoccupations and dark desires of the new millennium." - Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
"Voyeurism this seductive and satisfying is usually attended with a trespassing charge. Thanks are owed to Karl Taro Greenfeld for removing the nasty middleman of legal repercussion." - Amelia Gray, author of Threats
"Set on the streets of Manhattan's Tribeca as it transforms from an artist's haven to a place for yuppies and their children, Triburbia showcases Karl Taro Greenfeld's exceptional talent as both a storyteller and satirist." - Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062132390
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of six previous books, including the acclaimed memoir Boy Alone and the novel Triburbia. His fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, the Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a longtime writer for Time and Sports Illustrated, among many other publications, and his nonfiction has been collected in Best American Sports Writing, Best American Non-Required Reading, Best American Travel Writing, and Best Creative Nonfiction.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2012

    Triburbia is another one of those novels set in the rapidly gent

    Triburbia is another one of those novels set in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of New York City where the incoming hipster set sometimes clashes with the "natives". Usually they feature latte-sipping, stroller-pushing, organic food-eating mothers lamenting the loss of their youth, careers, and independence. All of that appears here also, except the main characters are men.

    A group of men with seemingly nothing in common form a sort of bond when they see each other everyday dropping off their children at school. They get together for breakfast afterwards in a coffee shop mainly for the companionship since most of the men are self-employed. Even though they go through this daily ritual, we get the feeling that they really don't know each other well despite their need for this connection.

    Told in the form of connected short stories (a popular tool in this genre), we see inside the lives of these men and the people around them that they are hesitant to share with each other. I don't read a lot of literary fiction that center around men, so it was interesting to get insight into the various insecurities that these men carry.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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