The Portable Veblen
Author : Elizabeth McKenzie
Publisher : Penguin Press; 1st edition (January 19, 2016)
Genre : Literature & Fiction
An exuberant, one-of-a-kind novel about love and family, war and nature, new money and old values by a brilliant New Yorker contributor
The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across its pages,The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage—the charming Veblen and her fiancé Paul, a brilliant neurologist—find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel.
Veblen (named after the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”) is one of the most refreshing heroines in recent fiction. Not quite liberated from the burdens of her hypochondriac, narcissistic mother and her institutionalized father, Veblen is an amateur translator and “freelance self”; in other words, she’s adrift. Meanwhile, Paul—the product of good hippies who were bad parents—finds his ambition soaring. His medical research has led to the development of a device to help minimize battlefield brain trauma—an invention that gets him swept up in a high-stakes deal with the Department of Defense, a Bizarro World that McKenzie satirizes with granular specificity.
As Paul is swept up by the promise of fame and fortune, Veblen heroically keeps the peace between all the damaged parties involved in their upcoming wedding, until she finds herself falling for someone—or something—else. Throughout, Elizabeth McKenzie asks: Where do our families end and we begin? How do we stay true to our ideals? And what is that squirrel really thinking? Replete with deadpan photos and sly appendices, The Portable Veblen is at once an honest inquiry into what we look for in love and an electrifying reading experience.
“Will these kind, if somewhat confused, young people find their ways out of the past and to each other and a happy shared future? The reader can’t help rooting them on. McKenzie’s idiosyncratic love story scampers along on a wonderfully zig-zaggy path, dashing and darting in delightfully unexpected directions as it progresses toward its satisfying end.” —Kirkus, starred review
“Offbeat and winning…(Veblen)’s one of the best characters of the year. McKenzie’s funny, lively, addictive novel is sure to be a standout.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A literary novel with a squirrel subplot may sound improbable, yet McKenzie adroitly skirts the line between plausible and the absurd. Veblen, the book’s heart and spirit, wins us over with her sense of wonder about the natural versus the man-made world — a wonder that suffuses the entirety of this quirky, engaging novel.” —The New York Times Book Review
“McKenzie has crafted a story that beneath an entertaining, clever surface, is deep and wise and complicated….With so light a touch and yet more serious and beautiful and relevant than many a weightier novel, The Portable Veblen has the feel of an instant, unlikely classic.” —Jeff VanderMeer in the Los Angeles Times
“Riotous …A delightfully knotty synthesis of psychological study, philosophical inquiry, romantic page-turner, and economic critique.”—Electric Literature
“A delightfully cockeyed love story that enfolds two splendidly dysfunctional families and a winningly persistent squirrel.”—More Magazine
“‘Funny and engaging and imbued with a very particular sensibility that might be described as ‘quirky’ if that term had not become trivialized by its overuse; despite being full of jokes and turns of phrase that make a reader laugh out loud…The Portable Veblen is a serious and, at times, sad book. And there is a talking squirrel.”—Chicago Reader
“Full of vibrant passages that practically leap off the page and twirl around the room. Veblen and Paul become richer, more nuanced characters as the book continues, thanks in part to McKenzie’s deft and amusing exploration of the conflicts between them and their parents. She also unleashes her satirical powers on Big Pharma and the defense industry.”—Dallas Morning News
“[Veblen] is a rich, well-rounded character…McKenzie…weaves in historical and cultural factoids about the Bay Area that truly make the novel zing…Satirical, funny, and satisfyingly clever, The Portable Veblen weaves multiple narrative threads into a seamless whole.”—KQED
“Irresistibly comedic…McKenzie…has an appealingly light, playful touch…‘The Portable Veblen’ is about how very squirrelly family dysfunction can be — and about how, as many of us never get tired of reading, love sometimes can conquer all.”—Seattle Times
“Modern romance, Big Pharma, and one very intuitive squirrel collide in McKenzie’s clever, winningly surreal novel…McKenzie has a pitch-perfect ear for a certain kind of California kookery…It’s hard not to be charmed by Veblen’s whimsy. Grade: A–.”-Entertainment Weekly
“A sweet, sharply written, romantic comedy about the pitfalls of approaching marriage… McKenzie imbues her characters with such psychological acuity that they, as well as the off-kilter world they inhabit, feel fully formed and authentic…With its inspired eccentricities and screwball plot choreography, McKenzie’s novel perceptively delves into that difficult life stage when young adults finally separate—or not—from their parents. In the end, The Portable Veblen is a novel as wise as it is squirrely.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“One of the great pleasures of reading Elizabeth McKenzie is that she hears the musical potential in language that others do not…Her dialogue has real fizz and snappity-pop. It leaves a bubbled contrail. Ms. McKenzie’s ear is not her only asset. There is also her angled way of seeing things. The hats on all of her characters sit slightly askew…For all its charm, bounce, radiant eccentrics and diverting episodes involving drug companies and squirrels, that is what ‘The Portable Veblen’ is about: shaking the demented ghosts of our youth so that we can bind with clean spirits to someone in our adulthood…A novel of such festive originality that it would be a shame to miss.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
Langue : English
File size : 1 Mo
Format : pdf