Mean Streets

Article excerpt

Mean Streets

FIVE CHARACTERS GO IN SEARCH OF MEANING IN CHRISTOPHER BOLLEN' S OUTSTANDING DEBUT.

As a literary category, the New York City novel is not exactly in need of reinforcement, but reinforce it Christopher Bollen has- and brilliantly, too. Bollen is an editor at Interview magazine, the selfconsciously hip popculture magazine that expends much energy on documenting the bright, glossy world of fashion and art. That world is blessedly absent in Lightning People (Soft Skull Press, September 6), his debut novel, in which the city is an ominous backdrop to the intersecting lives of fiveyoung(ish) transplants, each trying to escape a history of pain and regret. It begins with an oddly joyless marriage, but one that captures the mood of ennui and drift in post-9/11 New York, before lurching into darker territory when a hit-and-run sets offa series of events with consequences and repercussions for all five characters. (A sixth character, Quinn, stands as a survivor of an earlier catastrophe, AIDS, and his demise is one of the novel's cruder twists). …

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