Monday, February 20, 2006

Lapham Rising from the New York Times

From the New York Times review of Lapham Rising (free registration required):

Harry is old enough to be called "You old coot" by the local Realtor and "Señor Moment" by the carpenters working nearby. Why are the carpenters there? Because they are tormenting Harry with their noisy, annoying work on a house for Lapham, the show-off scion (with a nod to William Dean Howells's Silas Lapham) of an old Hamptons clan. "The family continued to reproduce like inbred collies until their heads became so pointed there was no room for brains, and yet fortunately, no need," Mr. Rosenblatt writes.

At moments like that, "Lapham Rising" achieves its optimum acerbic edge. And Mr. Rosenblatt, who has written his first novel after much success as a nonfiction writer, Time essayist, television commentator and playwright, certainly knows his way around a self-important Hamptons social soirée. "And may I pose a question for all the guests to respond to one by one at the dinner table?" he furiously asks Lapham's assistant, in the wake of a dinner party invitation. "Something about the future of the Democratic Party? I love it when they do that during meals."

Harry is at his most sardonic in sending daily notes that read "Mr Lapham, tear down that house!" As he explains it, "I thought that the Reaganesque echo might appeal to him."


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