I picked this up while at the library last. They had 15 copies prominently displayed as "new" in my little local satellite branch. It's slim, a novella. I figure why not.
Heather is the obsessed-upon daughter of Manhattan's Mark and Karen Breakstone, wealthy Wall Street guy and fulltime helicopter mom. (Read Man Men only not good.) Despite their material wealth, nobody is blissfully happy. We know because these few pages are split between all three characters where they complain of their dissatisfaction while doing nothing about it. Woven into those three narratives is a fourth - nonfamily member, Bobby Klasky of Newark. Bobby is the unwanted son of a single MOTHER. His life is horrible, much of that horror is his making, some not, but he is a BAD DUDE.
None of these things are examined. Nothing is more or less important. Changes may or may not come. Three dysfunctional people of four will go on. We have no good reason to think they'll do much different than before.
Bobby's story exists only to create a boogeyman to excuse the three rich people to do whatever they want, rational or not. He, the character, is a set-up. He's written to make us hate the other three less. Bobby is the epitome of a flat character. He is ALL BAD in caps for real. I'm not a writer, but I've heard enough writers through the years talk about finding the humanity or something to empathize with even in their worst characters - because that is how you make them real.
The others are only slightly more nuanced. Heather is Lolita and as such, she rates the only real description in the book: right down to her cup size. The parents are just bizarre, fake and far from realistic human beings. If the book had been any longer, I would have taken Dorothy Parker's advice on the strength of force with which some books should be abandoned.
Things like character building are left undone so RANDOM words can be capitalized and
WHITE space used.
(I didn't go to Yaddo, and I can do that too.)
The whole thing is the pale idea of what someone who wants to write fake-literary nihilism might sketch out. There's no facade of lovely behind which the horrible people hide. None of that ever gets built. Truthfully, there are children's books with more rounded characters than this family and the random stranger.
My biggest gripe would require spoilers, but if you do read it, do the exercise of reading it first by skipping all of Bobby's parts. I'm convinced they are there only to make the reader have some predisposal to pity the family and make us OK with their actions. Bobby is the quintessential bad guy, so there is no moral ambiguity, even when there should be if the characters were real and not psychopaths.
What a rotten book. It really deserves less than half a star.