“Lapham Rising brims with word play.”
“[An] uproarious debut…. Rosenblatt wields his satiric saber with skill and compassion. A-.”
If you enjoy wit, suspense, surprises and the odd ways of our British cousins, she is a writer to know.
The Washington Post
The yahoos take the Hamptons in the barbed first novel from the Time and PBS Newshour cultural critic Rosenblatt (The Rules of Aging), a wicked sendup of class relations on Long Island's East End. Harry March-a disgruntled novelist, misanthrope and recluse on a Quogue sandbar he calls Noman ("Noman is an island")-has only his little cottage and his West Highland terrier Hector to call his own: his wife has left; his three children are grown. Three generations of Harry's family are rooted in town as noble-thinking doctors and teachers, so perhaps he has his history, too, but that history, and Harry's whole quietly seething existence, are under attack by the noisy erection of the arriviste's bells-and-whistles mansion across the water. Lapham (as in Silas, not Lewis) has new money that originates in asparagus tongs. His Quogue invasion, undertaken along with sexy Southern real estate agent Kathy Polite (rhymes with "elite"), sparks Harry's very active critical mind to action, and he quickly plans fiery vengeance. Rosenblatt thumps his familiar socialist themes and is quotably tongue-in-cheek: there's a restaurant in town called Writer's Crock; in his catalogue of Lapham's objets is a chandelier left over from Kristallnacht. This satisfyingly old-school stab at the Hamptons' debasement will have New Yorker readers laughing out loud, even as it sends them up, too. (Feb. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Taking its cue from William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham, essayist Rosenblatt's first novel is an acid satire that, like its namesake, concerns the building of a house. In this case, it's a garishly overwrought beachfront mansion in the Hamptons, directly across from the more humble dwelling of curmudgeonly writer Harry March. March has withdrawn from the world to a small island with a talking evangelical dog named Hector and a full-size sculpture of his ex-wife. From there, he wages a one-man war against the self-obsessed Hamptons specifically and the excesses of modern America generally. His solitude being destroyed once and for all by Lapham and his ever-growing house, March plots a fiery, if somewhat anachronistic, revenge. While this book ably skewers the pretensions of a rarefied corner of America, it is Rosenblatt's deeper critique of contemporary American life that really gives the novel its bite. Readers familiar with The Rise of Silas Lapham will also find much to appreciate. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/05.]-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
An island-dwelling recluse launches countermeasures against his boorish, McMansion-building neighbor. William Dean Howells's 1885 novel, The Rise of Silas Lapham, chronicled the paint tycoon's fruitless quest to gain a foothold in Gilded Age Boston society and his eventual retreat to Vermont. Commentator and essayist Rosenblatt (The Man in the Water, 2004, etc.) loosely adapts this work, told this time from the perspective of a third-generation resident of eastern Long Island. Writer Harry March lives with his talking, born-again dog Hector on a private island he named Noman, off Quogue. "I named my island Noman so that when anyone asks where I live I shall tell them, and they shall say, ‘Where is that?' and I shall answer, ‘Noman is an island.' To date-and it has been years-no one has asked." March maintains a mental portfolio of rare diseases from which he suffers whenever he is threatened with a social experience, but he has uncharacteristically agreed to give a lecture on the meaning of the 20th century to the Chautauqua Institution. In between making notes for his speech, March spends his days growing more incensed with each ridiculous item that enters Lapham's estate: three scatter rugs made from the hair of a dingo; maids' uniforms created in Nagasaki by seamstresses maimed but not incapacitated by the 1945 bombing; 24 hand-painted mantelpieces bearing stories of the Apostles; a set of shaving brushes made from the whiskers of a dikdik. In order to save civilization as we know it, March decides to launch a fireball from his homebuilt catapult onto the monstrosity. The projectile is defeated, however, by a frigid gust from Lapham's state-of-the-art air conditioner, which blasts thefiery mass back onto March's island, destroying his home and property. Has the Age of Lapham won? Should March concede defeat? As our hero says, "There is always Vermont."Great stuff.