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Tepper Isn't Going Out: A Novel Paperback – January 14, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

New York City and America's car culture smash together in Calvin Trillin's Tepper Isn't Going Out, a humorous tale of the urban quest for an open parking space. When a mailing-list broker, Murray Tepper, decides to spend his days plugging meters so he can sit in his car reading newspapers and waive off suitors hopeful of gaining his spot, little does he know that his odd behavior (even by New York standards) will set off a media buzz, provide him with cult-hero status, and incur reproach from the paranoid, dour Mayor Frank Ducavelli, who focuses on curtailing Tepper's "abuse" of the parking meter system.

Granted, the plot of this novel is quite thin, but, while not leaving you in stitches, Trillin provokes many smirks and smiles with his wit. For instance, he writes of magazines titled Beautiful Spot: A Magazine of Parking and the potential of Spin: The Magazine of Salad Drying. When Tepper suggests that his friend Jack leave his car's flashers on while parked illegally, Jack responds:

And draw attention to myself? Not a chance. I always park in front of hydrants. The secret is to park smack in front of them rather than just too near them. You have to go all the way. If you're smack in front of them, the cop rolling down the street can't see that there's a hydrant there at all. You have to be brazen. That's my motto, in parking and in life: be brazen.
Trillin's book should appeal to commuters and city dwellers everywhere, and anyone else looking for a chuckle. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Trillin is a highly accomplished storyteller as well as a humorist and memoirist, and this oddly titled novel is by far his funniest and sunniest yet. It's a quintessentially New York comedy (and how pleasant to see those words in conjunction again) revolving around Murray Tepper, a quiet, good-humored man whose one oddity is his passion for parking on Manhattan streets. His knowledge of arcane New York parking rules is encyclopedic, and he likes nothing better than to park legally and sit in his car reading the paper. This irritates countless other drivers who think he is about to leave a desirable spot, and the title refers to his quirky determination to stay just where he is. Paradoxically, people begin to gravitate to him, to sit with him in the car and tell him their troubles; they even line up to do so. This in turn irritates the mayor (shades here of pre-crisis Giuliani), who accuses Tepper of fomenting disorder on the streets. Such a conflict becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines, and next, of course, is the offer of a book contract and a TV show. Nothing much happens beyond this, and the plot is resolved with calm good sense, but along the way Trillin captures dozens of pitch-perfect New York moments, in restaurants, in a loutish literary agent's office and in the quaintly old-fashioned business where Tepper works (he runs a mailing-list service and is a genius at perceiving the odd connections between people, where they live and what they buy). Trillin's book is the best tonic for post-September 11 blues imaginable. Agent, Lescher and Lescher, Ltd. 8-city author tour. (Jan. 15).
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375758518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375758515
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on February 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A humorously acerbic novel that is as delicious as a "nice" whitefish. The critics have made a big tsimmis about this book -- rightly so. If you have your car in a space that is GFT, good for tomorrow, this book is worth leaving the space to purchase and read. Murray Tepper loves to park his car in Manhattan. He knows all the parking rules; he enjoys sitting in his parked car and signaling to other drivers that is not 'going out' of the space. Tepper's behavior sometimes irritates the people who covet his spot. Murray has perfected a flick of his hand, not too aggressive, to tell people he isn't moving. It is the same finger wag used by the city's vindictive mayor in a barricaded City Hall to admonish his critics. Tepper irritates the mayor, Frank Ducavelli (read as RUDY), known in tabloid headlines as Il Duce-who sees Murray Tepper as a harbinger of what His Honor always calls "the forces of disorder." Rudy, I mean Ducavelli has enforced an arcane rule that people cannot hail a taxi from the street, but must hail it from the sidewalk. He has also attempted to enforce a dress code for city parks. TRILLIN captures NYC so well, that it is hard to believe that the book is fiction. The book is filled with those observant nuggets, like food workers who wear gloves, but the gloves are dirty; or the cast of political entrepreneurs who take advantage of issues to promote their causes. After a story on Tepper in the post-modern East Village "Rag" weekly, fellow New Yorkers become aware of Tepper, a direct mail list maven. Counter men from Russ and Daughters and even Upper East-Siders come to sit and chat with Tepper in his car. This is the book that should be selected as the citywide read in 2002.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michela on February 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Murray Tepper is one of the most likeable characters that I've ever come across in a novel. As I was reading this sunny satire by New Yorker Calvin Trillin, I kept smiling to myself and thinking that I wished I could meet Tepper and sit with him in the front seat of his 'legally parked' dark blue Chevy Malibu. I had to keep reminding myself that 'Tepper Isn't Going Out' is fiction - it read like a 'parking' memoir. Parking is a sport in Manhattan, and Murray is a pro.
Murray sits in his Malibu late in the day, reading his Post and perfecting his hand flicks that he gives to would-be parkers who ask him if he's going out. One thing leads to another, and Murray winds up being the parking philosopher with a line of people waiting to join him in his car. Next he ends up being declared an 'attractive nuisance' by City Attorney Victor 'Yesboss' Hessbaugh under a 1911 statute. It seems Mayor 'Il Duce' Ducavelli has decided that Tepper has become one of the 'forces of disorder' that are threatening the City. Tepper gets his day in court, represented by ACLU lawyers who have a shopping cart stuffed full of documents. I'm not going to say how Murray's story ends, except to say that there's a delightful twist that I hadn't guessed.
'Tepper Isn't Going Out' is a fun book, and it's a playful poke at a former mayor or two. Put some money in the meter, sit behind the wheel, and enjoy this book! Oh, and I have one question for Murray: How did he manage to get those choice parking spots in the first place?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ACUNA on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The content of Calvin Trillin's "Tepper Isn't Going Out" can be utilized as a primer for anyone with big city parking problems as it details the do's and don'ts, the wheres and the whens of parking in New York City but also how to crack the code of any big city's parking: know your neighborhood, read the signs...basically know the rules. But this isn't all that "TIGO" is. It's also a gentle, humourous observation of Life here in the USA circa 2002. Parking as metaphor: where and why we don't fit in; can't find our niche. Murray Tepper as Exestential Man trying to carve out a place for himself and his car; always staying within the boundaries, feeding the parking meters, always parking legally. This is not Kavka's Worm unaware of why he finds himself in his circumstances for Murray Tepper is all to aware of his.
Murray Tepper is a gentle man, married, part owner of a marketing list company who enjoys driving around NYC looking for legal parking places in which to stop and read his evening paper.
By doing so, he draws the ire of NYC's mayor (named appropriately Ducavelli or "Il Duce") who hates "disorder in any form."
When Tepper naturally becomes a celebrity, people drop by his car and ask for advice: relationship, business, money, etc. The manner in which Tepper replies (or more to the point doesn't reply) to these inquiries reminds me a lot of the Peter Sellars character in "Being There" as Tepper mostly smiles and agrees and allows the questioner to work through his own question until he finds the answer himself yet hilariously credits Tepper.
It's fun to note the Trillin was also involved in a one issue magazine named "Beautiful Spot: A Magazine of Parking.
Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on February 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If books are like food, some novels are three-course meals, meaty and filling. Others are the diet plate, good for you but not very tasty. Tepper Isn't Going Out is cotton candy: sweet, light, quickly enjoyable mid-afternoon snack.
Calvin Trillin's novel follows New Yorker Murray Tepper, a mild-mannered man with a mild-mannered job and a mild-mannered family. In short, he's a pleasant but unspectacular man who has started parking his car throughout the city and just enjoying his spot, sitting and reading the paper. Initially irritating other drivers who want his spot, Tepper eventually develops a following as people visit him in his car and relate their problems to him. Tepper's advice is minimal, but seems to always work.
Opposing him is the mayor, an extreme parody of Rudy Guliani who is obsessed with the forces of chaos and finds Tepper to be a vicious social agitator. Thus, without really doing anything, Tepper becomes a minor hero and is getting lots of notice from both press and politicians.
This is a wonderful little story, both funny and well-written. Trillin shows that his gift for humor is as strong as ever. Like cotton candy, you won't really get a lot of great "nutrition" here, but you will have a good time. And unlike cotton candy, there is no risk of cavities here.
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