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PRIVATE CITIZENS: A Novel ~Tony Tulathimutte

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

  • An Amazon “Best Book” of Month
  • A Buzzfeed “Most Exciting” Book of 2016
  • A Flavorwire “Most Anticipated” Book 2016

I was so lucky to be sent PRIVATE CITIZENS for review for TLC BOOK TOURS.  We started off by getting the tour dates mixed up and this book arrived before May.  This was okay and we rallied around to find a new spot for it.

Here’s what it said on the book cover:
“ From a brilliant new literary talent comes a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco.  With the Social Acuity of Adelle Waldman and the murderous wit of Martin Amis, Tony Tulathimutte’s PRIVATE CITIZENS is a brainy, irreverent debut “ – This Side of Paradise for a new era.

“Private Citizens is a freak of literature – a novel so authentic, hilarious, elegantly plotted, and heartbreaking that I’d follow it anywhere.  Tony Tulathimutte is a singular intellect with an uncanny 40/20 vision on the world.”  – Jennifer duBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes

Tony Tulathimutte is a very smart fellow
“Tulathimutte has contributed to AGNI, The Three Penny Review, The American reader, Salon, The New Yorker on line, and other publications.  A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry prize, a MacDowell Colony fellowship, and the Michener- Copernicus Society of America Award.  He lives in New York.”

Hilarious, authentic, intelligent were the words that truly captivated me and to learn about the privileged young people who graduated from Stanford University, I was totally ready to read this book.  Four friends reconnecting, yes!  This sounds very good indeed.  I set aside a whole afternoon to start the read.   After 4 hours at it, I realized I had slept 90 minutes of my time away instead of reading.  I am too old to find bowel track humor very funny any more, I could not find humor at all instead I found the style very distracting and the 4 friends pathetic.

On the second session of reading, I engaged a bit with Cory the social activist as she connected with a cultish self-help seminar,  I could identify as my wishes and hopes were not being met early after graduation either and I fell pray to something like this situation.  When I had 75 pages left to read, I jumped to the last chapter and finished PRIVATE CITIZEN’s. I have no idea why one character needed eye surgery.  I did not care.  I felt rather hopeless about recent graduates and a kind of despair sticks with me as I begin reading the next book on the list.

I did not like this book and thought the drug usage, sex, and alcohol consumption were too big a focus for these whiney characters.  Wow not funny, not smart, and I find it sad that PRIVATE CITIZENS is so anticipated and folks are so excited about it – worrisome to me. All that privilege and such weak outcomes.  I am concerned for our future.

Tony Tulathimutte Website
Tony Tulathimutte Twitter
Tony Tulathimutte Facebook

Related:
A Visit From the Goon Squad
How To Be Alive
Liar
Memory Card Full

OUTSIDE IN: A Bildungsroman *(coming of age) Novel ~Doug Cooper

Monday, April 28th, 2014

“OUTSIDE IN is a deep entertaining read about all the truths that find us when we’re looking the other way.”    Jerry Stahl – from the book cover.

OutsideInOutside In just brought me right back to my days in graduate school.  I thought about my study group and all the fellows arriving full of inhaled weed, cocaine, and passing around the beer all the while thinking they were being so clever, creative and intelligent.  I was the only woman in the group and the only person paying my full fees and I needed the information that these 6 privileged, affluent, East Coast males could provide me. Their dilemma was the Viet Nam War, emotional immaturity, and the inability to problem –solve.  I resisted reading this book and pushed it to the eleventh hour just because I felt stuck into that old situation – the teacher getting no credit or acknowledgement for skills.  I should have been paid a great deal of money over my career by the “inherited wealthy sons”  instead I am watching them manipulate the economy now and many are still emotionally vacuous and even meaner than they were 40 years ago.  Why would I want to read this book?

I persevered!  I am very glad I did, because the book had teeth and psychological piercings; there was no fluff attached.  Doug Cooper distilled 4 primary characters which prove to be  composites of some of the major problems facing our culture today and being masked by recreational or entertainment excesses and even Daddy’s money. “Jell-O” people, who strive for instant gratification and feel entitled just bore me. To me it appears that they have bypassed the meat and potatoes of life, the joy of recognizing mistakes and amazingly  the very stuff of who they are and what gives them meaning and depth.  I could see that there was hope for some enlightenment in a few of these characters.

Brad the primary character in the story is 28 year old junior high school math teacher, and he is put on leave from his position because a student dies of drug use and the parents blame him.  He is persuaded to head to Put In Bay Island to be a bouncer or “camp counselor” in a resort play land.   The participants are confined by their location, their heavy drinking, their exploration of drugs, and their constant almost 24 hours of daily play.  Addiction takes over the recreation and there is a need to figure out what comes next – they draw crisis to themselves over and over again – as any good novel would.

The book is smart and quite the read and if I were still teaching Psychology in college, I would add this book to the list and would get to teach all the big concepts and words in a great lecture about coming of age in America,  why maturity is so delayed, and how when the Inherited Wealth rules our world  we will have a new cultural dilemma to contend with; this is an important read.

When reading OUTSIDE IN, try to challenge yourself to figure out the emotional goal each of the characters represents. Do we actually understand responsibility – able to respond?   I think the historic context also plays a significant role in this capable study.

“Doug Cooper has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love.  He now lives in Las Vegas.  Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or at ByCooper.com.

After I wrote this review I went to several sites and blogs including what the author shares on his blog and it was a delight to read what others said.   I am so very pleased that I persevered.  It gave me a good workout – contemplation is good!

tlclogo  TLC Online Book Tours sent me a Kindle Copy of this great read.  At first appearances I was concerned that this book was all about drinking, drugs and excessive sexual behavior, as I arrived on the Put In Bay Island with Brad Shepard, I began to see that these were the young adult children who have not learned emotions, or problem-solving and are easily persuaded to mask what they need to be tackling and growing forward; they do not know how.  The author has captured this dilemma occurring in our culture at this time and given it a definition.  Some will awaken from this dream state – OUTSIDE IN is about those who figure it out –there is an epiphany.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few blossoms in my bouquet. Donations also welcomed. Thank you for your support.

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Related:
My Country Tis of Thee
The Moon Sisters
Short Leash
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

*The author introduced this word to me – It just rolled around nicely into my brain – Thank you. Bildungsroman