Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City

Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City

by Choire Sicha
     
 

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What will the future make of us?

In one of the greatest cities in the world, the richest man in town is the Mayor. Billionaires shed apartments like last season's fashion trends, even as the country's economy turns inside out and workers are expelled from the City's glass towers. The young and careless go on as they always have, getting laid and getting laid

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Overview

What will the future make of us?

In one of the greatest cities in the world, the richest man in town is the Mayor. Billionaires shed apartments like last season's fashion trends, even as the country's economy turns inside out and workers are expelled from the City's glass towers. The young and careless go on as they always have, getting laid and getting laid off, falling in and falling out of love, and trying to navigate the strange world they traffic in: the Internet, complex financial markets, credit cards, pop stars, microplane cheese graters, and sex apps.

A true-life fable of money, sex, and politics, Very Recent History follows a man named John and his circle of friends, lovers, and enemies. It is a book that pieces together our every day, as if it were already forgotten.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cofounder of the current events Web site the Awl and a former editor at Gawker offers up his first full-length piece, an offbeat hybrid of nonfiction and fiction, in which he tracks a small group of recent college grads as they navigate life in New York City in 2009. The loosely connected band of office drones and freelancers deals with quotidian demands, professional woes, money issues, and the intricacies of sex and dating, with the recession and the city’s own evolution looming in the background. The soap opera storyline is frequently interrupted by digressive commentary on various aspects of the socio-political, historical, and economic factors surrounding the group, presented in a manner somewhere between grade school primer and remedial lecture. Sicha explains familiar elements of today’s society—from insurance to cigarette taxes to public transportation—for an unknown future audience, and though his tale is refreshingly bare-bones at points, he often misses opportunities for satire. The result is a snapshot of a year in the life of a generation coming of age in a big city during tough times, but it’s neither cutting nor profound, as aimless and unfocused as its characters. Agent: P.J. Mark, McCormick & Williams Literary Agency. (Aug. 6)
Rosecrans Baldwin
“The only book our ancestors will need…VERY RECENT HISTORY would start a revolution if we knew better.”
Elle
“Sicha vivisects the student-loan crisis, finance capital, and other plagues in the arch tone of one explaining it all to a naïf from the future—a rhetorical device that trains a floodlight on the great hypocrisies of our time. ”
Nancy Jo Sales
“Very Recent History is a true story of the quiet desperation that comes from a world full of meanness—and hype. It’s also an intensely political book, quietly outraged…Very Recent History takes on all the right things.”
Emily Gould
“This book will be especially useful for the generation it describes, who are so caught up in an infinite now that they risk forgetting, and repeating, slightly less recent history.”
Interview
“Sicha’s position as a journalist is so impressively embedded it could be described as vascular…A Vonnegut-esque manual of the era for future aliens interested in life in that lost empire known as 21st-Century America.”
GQ
“[The] most hilarious satire of the summer…a brave new amalgam of reportage and story…takes on the hyper-real gloss of an E! True Holywood Story, narrated as though by some earnest alien sociologist from the future.”
Michael H. Miller
“An exemplary entry in—and in many ways a blistering critique of—a style of writing I think of as post-fiction. This writing represents a chiasmus between the real and the made-up, blurring the two into nonrecognition.”
Salon
“Perhaps among a next wave of books about gay folks as full American citizens that doesn’t bother walking them through schematic journeys meant to stand in for the American Gay Experience.”
Time
“Has the same time-capsule charm as a book many of us read and were fascinated by in elementary school, Motel of the Mysteries , in which the world was destroyed and future generations were left to wonder at objects like a toilet.”
NPR
“Choire Sicha’s writing charms and delights, but beneath the biting wit and cynicism [he] dares to explore the darker underbelly of human avarice and capital, a book that’s equal parts blindingly terrifying and smartly humorous, and one of the most clever reads I’ve encountered in a long time.”
Mother Jones
“I liked the part where everyone is discussing Truman Capote’s article about hanging out with Montgomery Clift.”
The Stranger
“You look up from the book to find that Sicha took the opportunity to screw a new pair of eyes into your sockets. With his distance and his wit, he’s showed you the ridiculousness, and the impossibly high value, of everything you take for granted.”
New Yorker.com Page-Turner
“Sicha’s uncanny, absurdist reduction is more than just a fun-to-read ruse: “Very Recent History” shames you, the reader, for losing sight, on a day-to-day basis, of just who is controlling your world… [VRH] is exultant in a way no mere clever premise can be.”
Clay Shirky
“Sicha’s prose, sweet and alienating by turns, transforms a city I know well and a year I lived through into something odd and wonderful.”
Kirkus Reviews
Sex. Bills. Politics. Sex. Friendship. Real Estate. Recession. Sex. Shower, rinse, repeat. Former Gawker, Radar and New York Observer editor Sicha, who now co-owns The Awl website, creates a novelistic tale that the subtitle claims as reportage. It appears to be an odd mixture of fact and fiction. Much of the text satirizes desiccated sociology books, offering archly funny examinations of New York City's class and economic structures, its absurdly inflated real estate market, the lucrative world of its various vices and other banal facts of life. Unfortunately, the apparently fictional narrative that's interlaced with these journalistic observations is wearyingly trite and unfocused. Its primary protagonist is John, an office drone at a company suffering through multiple rounds of firings, resignations and layoffs. He goes to parties with his friends, gets high and watches TV. He frets over not making enough money to live comfortably in New York City. He has sex, again and again and again, with boyfriends, hookups, party crashers and club rats, described not only without passion, but with an almost clinical detachment. "Sometimes work was just what you clocked into while you were falling in love," Sicha writes. "Sometimes sex was just something you did while you weren't at work. Drugs were something you did sometimes when you couldn't deal with one of those things, or with yourself." Sicha seems to be trying to document generational angst as a new product, something that's been done with every generation since Fitzgerald transcribed the Jazz Age. A certain rhythm to the author's prose harkens back to the glory days of coffeehouse spoken-word performances; the atmosphere of ruthlessness takes its cues from the Ellis/McInerney school of hipster-urban bards. Either way, it already feels like an artifact. An experiment in genre fusion too clever for its own good.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062198990
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/06/2013
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
826,197
File size:
517 KB

Meet the Author

Choire Sicha is the coproprietor of The Awl. A two-time editor of Gawker, he has written for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as well as a suspiciously large number of magazines exactly one time. He lives in Brooklyn.

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