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Boomtown Hardcover – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Sewanee Writers' Series
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; First Edition edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585674508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585674503
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,750,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Younger than Springtime offers a series of sharply clever and often comic character studies of New Yorkers riding the brief but intoxicating Internet boom. Jonathan Scarver, CEO of Web startup Allminder.com, is expanding his money-guzzling company, heading for a scheduled IPO that should net him "a nine-figure fortune" while juggling the demands of his tempestuous Arab investor, Farouk Kharrazi. Further down the food chain, PR ace Brad Smith makes loss sound like profit during the day and drinks himself into oblivion at night. But can Allminder stay afloat long enough to make that IPO? Tension, sexual and otherwise, also comes in the form of gorgeous Sierra, the smart ex-stripper whom Brad hires at the request of a rich investment banker buddy. Sierra shakes things up by using her charms to build a power base with Kharrazi, while Allminder's nerdy computer guru, who's been busy reading everyone's e-mail and knows the company's in trouble, unleashes a powerful virus that forwards people's emails to everyone on their contact list. Williams's crisp, ironic voice keeps the narrative clipping along, and a sweet subplot about a struggling actress named Nicole who survives a breakup with her boyfriend and a sabotage attempt by her jealous acting teacher to land the part of her dreams adds to the fun. Williams stumbles into a few clichés of plot and character, but his compassion for these confused and imperfect humans—especially as they try to piece together their lives after the predictable Allminder crash—provides balance and depth. The ending feels too fast and a bit too hopeful, but otherwise the novel's a winner.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following Jay McInerney's unforgettable portrait of coke-sniffing urbanites in the '80s in Bright Lights, Big City (1985) comes first-novelist Williams' lively portrayal of hard-drinking dot-commers in the '90s. Employing, in places, McInerney's trademark second-person omniscient narration, Williams homes in on the employees of Allminder.com: slick CEO Jonathan Scarver is having an affair with the director of human resources and is spending millions on office renovations, although his company has yet to make a dime; PR whiz Brad Smith is increasingly torn between slamming back margaritas at Cibar and staying home to write a novel; geeky systems guy Steve Bluestein makes a habit out of snooping through e-mail because no one wants to converse with him face-to-face. Their company is heading for a serious fall, tweaked by a nerd's desire for revenge, and office politics start to heat up in weird and interesting ways. Williams mixes a sure command of the language with a deliciously wicked plot in this witty, fast-moving send-up of hubris and greed in the Big Apple. An absolute pleasure to read. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ecerami on April 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Boomtown is a great, fast-moving novel that takes place in New York City during the pre 9-11 dot-com bubble. New York City serves as a glittering backdrop for the very compelling characters, the delusional dot-com schemes ("it was another great week for Biz Dev"), and painfully fragile relationships. The characters are entirely believable, and I felt genuine sadness for many of them. They get swept up in something much larger than themselves, and soon find themselves and their beloved city caught up in a new cycle of "creative destructiveness", seeing relationships end, seeing dreams end, but still holding on. This book struck a deep chord with me, and I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on August 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A highly enjoyable, engrossing read, "Boomtown" (not related to the excellent but short-lived NBC series of the same name) charmed and delighted me. Moving quickly through the New York dot.com landscape of the year of the bubble burst, Williams uses his own experience (including perhaps his undergraduate major) to write a story that kept me turning the pages from start to finish -- with great interest -- in one satisfying day.

The ensemble cast includes the functional (and, at times, dysfunctional) protagonist, Brad Smith, the PR vice president for a content-free start up. We never really learn or need to know what it is they are selling; this makes for a good parable about the entire dot.com mirage/mania. Smith provides the central point to the strange populace from his firm, including the duplicitous general manager, the former stripper turned PR assistant, the Middle Eastern investor, the oversexed personal assistant, and the nerdy tech guy. They are an interesting crew and Smith stumbles aimlessly, drunkenly for much of the novel before finding some light at the end of the dot.com tunnel, most of it from a fellow traveler who wants something quite different than what Smith seems to be seeking.

In a parallel world, Nicole Garrison, aspiring actress, leaves her unfaithful boyfriend, spurns a calculating but clueless Wall Street type, earns her big break, loses it, and...well, let's not give away the entire plot.

The crash of the greedy, paper-rich Internet employees of the end of the last century provides good fodder for a "Bright lights, big city" like romp through the bars, bedrooms and refurbished office space that makes New York such an interesting setting for the book, much better than any bone-dry Silicon Valley setting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this account of the dot.com world. The star of the book for me was the wondrous Sierra who is a former stripper hired into the firm for her obvious attributes. Endowed with more smarts than her resume might indicate, Sierra identifies the power behind the throne, Farouk Kharrazi, who has too much money and one wife too many. Sleeping your way to the top may not be the most ethical business practice, but Sierra uses what she knows best and does an end run around the manager Jonathan Scarver and his right hand man Brad Smith. Ultimately, "Boomtown" comes down to a question of values. No amount of money in the world brings peace of mind, although it can bring a nice luxury apartment in New York City. There is a bit of a high-tech comedy of manners as computer geek Steven Bluestein reads everybody's email and then creates a virus that sends their emails to everyone else. This spirals out of control as the virus spreads around the world, bringing in the FBI to investigate the origins of the hoax. Greg Williams does a wonderful job of painting this world and making us care about it. I kept picturing Marge Helgenberger from CSI playing Sierra in the movie version. Enjoy!
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