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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale that needs to be told
Before I get into the book itself, I have to get this pet peeve off my mind. Do publishers not use proofreaders anymore? I started tabbing the pages with glaring errors until the book had a ribbon of tabs. If on one page, Noah says his appointment with Dylan isn't until 2:00 pm but on the very next page he announces to the doorman that he's there for his 4 o' clock...
Published on August 14, 2006 by K. G Havemann

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well...
I'm only about halfway through this, but I am struck that despite the fact that the author attended Harvard, he has no idea that Princeton has really fantastic financial aid--the main character would never have graduated eighty thousand in debt. Also, I have no sympathy for a Princeton grad in pre-recession New York who doesn't just go get a job in the financial sector...
Published on March 10, 2011 by Samantha Barbaro


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale that needs to be told, August 14, 2006
By 
Before I get into the book itself, I have to get this pet peeve off my mind. Do publishers not use proofreaders anymore? I started tabbing the pages with glaring errors until the book had a ribbon of tabs. If on one page, Noah says his appointment with Dylan isn't until 2:00 pm but on the very next page he announces to the doorman that he's there for his 4 o' clock appointment, something is dreadfully amiss. In another place, Dylan had one week in which to take his test, Two pages later, he had two weeks. Seasons seemed to change literally overnight. Time condensed and then expanded. Truly inexcusable.

But the book itself was quite charming and to those who really know the truth about nouveau Manhattan wealth, absolutely true. Schrefer may exaggerate with poetic license but there is more truth in his tales than the more negative reviewers here realize. SAT tutoring is Big Business among the wealthy overindulged and pampered teens who populate the New York private and semi-private schools and cheating, not by the tutors though, is more rampant than people suspect. The author needs more seasoning to move his story along more briskly but this is a good first novel and I look forward to his next one -- hopefully with a proofreader in tow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Clever, Smart Prose from a Smart New Author, July 2, 2006
Eliot's Schrefer's first book is a delightful debut and we hope a hint of more to come. Schrefer's characters are a step above real life, making them more interesting and sharpening the novel's focus on the modern moral dilemma of class conflict and the search for self-discovery. A great and thought provoking read.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Emotions, May 9, 2006
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"Mixed Emotions", about the book and about the review. I would probably give this a 3 1/2, 4 too high, 3 too low, and here is why.

Eliot Schrefer's debut novel does touch on a unique perspective, a poor Ivy League grad tutoring wealthy, spoiled kids on the Upper East Side. I'm curious how exaggerated this book is from his real world experience. I'm reminded of my favorite bartender's statement, "everybody comes from a dysfunctional family". And this book demonstrates dysfunction to the nth degree. High achieving MD mother, financial genius father who is rarely around, a son named Dylan who is dumb as dirt and not interested in getting any smarter, and the nymphet 15 year old daughter who already attends famous NY nightclubs and hooks up with guys 40. Did I mention the massive drug use by teenagers? I'd say that's plenty of material to cover.

The positives of the book is it gives you a look at this very unique life and the variance between his students' existence and his own buried in student loans, supporting family and living in Harlem. This was interesting and fertile ground for a novel.

But the negatives are a very slow style that builds characters over the first 200 pages leaving only 130 pages to resolve issues, satisfy his love life and resolve his roommate's messy role in the novel. Based on this, there is no way this book deserves a 5 star rating. But does it explore a different environment? Absolutely. Does it give the reader input into who the author is and what are his frames of reference? Yes. But please Eliot, next time do it a little quicker with more meat after the character building.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their money/their kids, May 12, 2006
Just finished Glamorous Disasters after a 2-day power read. Personally being a 'paid human on Park Avenue' much truth is revealed in this novel. New York rich is a world unto itself. This would make a great movie. Love to cast it!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new author, May 7, 2006
By 
James (Georgia, USA) - See all my reviews
I saw Schrefer's book covered in a recent USA Today and couldn't resist buying it (next day delivery, thanks Amazon!) Schrefer is gifted in the use of language and vividly paints his characters with clever descriptions of their wealth-inspired weaknesses. As with any novel derived from real events, it's fascinating to wonder how much of the book is real and how much is truly fictionalized. Really doesn't matter, I suppose, as the truth is probably stranger than fiction. I predict more good stuff will spill from fertile brain!
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding debut and a fun read, May 5, 2006
Schrefer's literary debut is a watershed among the fluffy "chick lit" books that have come to dominate the current book market. I hesitate to call this "chick lit" for three main reasons: 1) It was written by a male author; 2) contrary to chick lit books, it contains actual good writing; 3) and contrary to chick lit books, it is not fluff but rather a mordant look at the morally ambiguous Upper East Side, where successful parents who are exasperated with their academically lackluster kids, will do anything to get them into a good college. As we all know, chick lit could not care less about social critique and Faustian bargains; rather, chick lit concentrates on the purchase of Manolos, who steals a best friend's boyfriend, and the ridiculous catfights that ensue in the Hamptons over spilt martinis.

Schrefer dismisses all of this tired and recycled material and breaches new ground: he concentrates on the strained and even competitive relationships between parents and their children; exposes how SAT tutors are, in a way, mercenaries for the rich to get their kids into the best colleges, while outlining the tacit social rules that divide the rich and the poor in New York.

I like the fact that Schrefer concentrates on the competitive nature of mother-daughter relationships. This is a topic that is all too common in real life but hardly touched upon by writers, except of course by Christina Crawford in Mommie Dearest. When parents, especially mothers of adolescent girls, read the following passage, they will be forced to examine how they really feel about their daughters' youth and vitality.

** "They are not speaking as a mother and daughter-they are rivals. And he realizes that, despite Dr. Thayer's nominal attempts at parental authority, they have always been rivals. Dr. Thayer's preoccupation with Dylan and dismissal of Tuscany make sense: Dylan, the son, can succeed in areas that don't threaten Dr. Thayer. But Tuscany...where she derives the most attention-her looks, youth, spirited nature-are the very areas in which Dr. Thayer is fading to gray. Dr. Thayer can't stand to see her daughter come to the landing poised and lovely, when she is haggard and lost. She sees in Tuscany the animus that has already faded from her, the very vitality she most wants to recover, her own ghost."

Now, if you've read the book, you know that Dr. Thayer and her daughter Tuscany are indeed bitter rivals. Dr. Thayer competes in every possible way with her daughter but always fails-it really doesn't matter how many times she highlights her blond hair even blonder, she will always come up short because of her age and her bitterness; whereas Tuscany will always win, regardless, because of her age and her blossoming womanhood accompanied by a mischievous nature.

Schrefer also limns the social divide between his Harlem residence and his Upper East Side clients. At one point, Noah wonders if the parents of the children he teaches know that the preppily-attired Princeton grad actually returns home to Harlem and not to some TriBeCa loft. These parents are so self-involved, so self-absorbed in their St. John suits, satin bathrobes, and Pratesi sheets, that it doesn't occur to them that college graduates, even those from the most coveted Ivy Leagues, don't start out their lives in beautiful expensive lofts. A major in English does not a glitzy apartment make. But having gone to Princeton, is a visa for Noah into the Upper East Side and its parties.

** "Dr. Thayer swoops in and grabs Noah's arm. `You're not leaving already?' she says. `They're [party guests] not being entirely too boring? Not intellectual enough? Some of them probably went to Princeton, you know."

Another thing that I like about Schrefer's writing is his use of vocabulary, which he does in a smartly restrained way. Less is more and Schrefer obviously abides by that rule. (I, however, secretly think that Schrefer is a wordsmith and had to choose his words carefully so as not to come across as too heavy.) For instance:

** "Noah teaches Tuscany to paraphrase difficult sections, to focus on the first and last four lines of the passage. Tuscany punctuates Noah's lesson with observations about how much finals will suck and how bloated she feels. She politely returns to the passage when Noah asks her to, but in the middle of a section about the Mayan jungle she glances sagaciously at her fingernails and observes that guzzling ice water burns calories."

Now some people would disagree with me and say (as they have said here) that the vocabulary is too "intelligent" or "plodding" or what have you. I beg to disagree. These people were probably expecting chick lit, where there are no "big words." And again, this is not chick lit. This is a social critique of a small but powerful sector of New York society that we hardly get to see.

Finally, with all this social critique and examination of turbulent parent-adolescent relationships, the book is not lacking in humor. In one of my favorite passages, Dylan (Dr. Thayer's son, whose inability to master analogies is only evenly matched by his inability to write coherently) presents Noah with an essay that has obviously been written by someone else:

** "When I was fourteen, such a tender age, my teacher called me a `dumb jock.' What struck me, then, was a certain vague profundity behind her offhand manner; a slippery significance I have only recently come to grasp: I was no longer an individual but a thing; an other."

At the end, there is one loose end though and that is Roberto. Of all the characters in the novel, Roberto appealed to me the most because of his generous gregariousness and almost inhuman ability to fit into any kind of social situation, regardless of whether it is in Harlem or at Pangaea (where it is said that Derek Jeter hangs out). An incident occurs toward the end of the book, where the reader is left questioning Roberto's sexuality. But not enough is done to explain the situation and Roberto is swiftly exited from the novel. I would have liked to read more on what happened to Roberto. However, I'm hoping that Schrefer will include Roberto in another one of his books, since I would like to know more about this mysterious character.

All in all, Edith Wharton would have been proud to see that her unchanging New York has garnered and inspired writers like Schrefer to not only ensure her legacy but also and most importantly, keep us straight on our moral compass.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!, May 7, 2006
By 
Karen (Clearwater, Florida) - See all my reviews
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Eliot Schrefer's debut novel does not read like a debut novel. His writing has a maturity that one doesn't often see in a first novel. His wonderful use of language and detail, his keen character development and themes, and his realistic insider view of a world most of us don't belong to testify to his rising star as a new talent that I am glad to have read and that I hope to read again.

Mr. Schrefer takes the time to build believeable characters and bring the reader into Noah's world and the people he knows and works with, thus strengthing a reader's investment with the characters and their choices. Don't be suprised if you find yourself wanting to talk to Noah and rage at Dr. Thayer. The characters are that believeable. I liked Noah. Mr. Schrefer made me feel and understand his struggles as he navagiated a world of weak and insecure people to come of age and learn to know himself.

This book was a excellent read. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well..., March 10, 2011
I'm only about halfway through this, but I am struck that despite the fact that the author attended Harvard, he has no idea that Princeton has really fantastic financial aid--the main character would never have graduated eighty thousand in debt. Also, I have no sympathy for a Princeton grad in pre-recession New York who doesn't just go get a job in the financial sector for a year or two. The idea is brought up briefly, but sort of dismissed as an impossibility; getting any semblance of a real job would fix all of this guy's problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down!, November 11, 2008
By 
I loved this book! It is hilarious and impossible to put down! It is about a likable recent Princeton grad who tutors rich kids in Manhattan in order to earn enough money to repay his student loans. As he plunges into the unfamiliar world of the privileged, the main character encounters people and situations that will make you laugh out loud! The story flows nicely and is immensely entertaining.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I hear ya, Noah..., April 30, 2006
By 
Lisa the whiz kid (Boca Raton, sunny FL) - See all my reviews
As a tutor for an unnamed company in an pretty well-off city, I can sympathize with Noah's plight. Carefully crafted and taken directly from the real world of people who have far too much money and far too little intelligence/scruples (and, oh, how many there are!), Glamorous Disasters is a scathing and entertaining expose. Definite recommend (especially for anyone who's ever sat down and tried to explain basic algebra, reading passages, and other standardized test fare to rich morons.)
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Glamorous Disasters: A Novel
Glamorous Disasters: A Novel by Eliot Schrefer (Paperback - February 13, 2007)
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