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The Intimates: A Novel Hardcover – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374176973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374176976
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two friends stumble into adulthood in Sassone's charming if shaggy debut, a triptych of episodes covering Maize and Robbie's evolving relationship. The pair date briefly in high school as Robbie tries to hide his crushes on boys, and Maize develops an intense rapport with her guidance counselor and loses her virginity to her college admissions interviewer. In the intervening years, Maize and Robbie fall in and out of touch as he heads to Italy and she takes a job as an assistant to a tyrannical real estate agent. Finally, after they become roommates in New York City, Robbie relies on Maize for moral support as he brings a boyfriend home to meet his mother. That Maize and Robbie continue to orbit each other long after their commonalities have vanished is less surprising than the fact that they do so without any apparent abiding affection for one another, and while Sassone skillfully balances their perspectives, their emotional distance from each other casts an implausible shadow over their travails and blunts the scant dramatic tension to be found in their struggles to grow up. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Things tend to go wildly wrong for Maize and Robbie, the survivors of noxious households that left them clueless about what intimacy might mean. Drawn to each other in high school, they become friends after Robbie confesses his sexual confusion. Their bond deepens during college and beyond as Robbie accepts that he’s gay and they share an apartment in New York. They are so close, Robbie thinks, “He and Maize are like each other’s human diaries.” And that’s a good thing as they each stumble into ludicrous and damaging involvements with inappropriate people. Exceptional first-time novelist Sassone’s lost characters are enticingly conflicted and acidly funny as they navigate painful predicaments—from Robbie’s nearly mortifying error while visiting his wealthy father in Rome to Maize’s showdown with her malevolent boss. Add to that inventive metaphors, an ability to write about sex with unusual insight, and keen understanding of the nature of ambivalence. As Maize and Robbie seek paths forward, Sassone dramatizes the elusiveness of maturity, “the unruliness of existence,” and our habit of hiding our true selves, especially from ourselves. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Ralph Sassone studied writing at Columbia and Brown Universities. A former editor at The Village Voice, he has worked as a freelance writer or editor at several publications including The New York Times, Details, Newsweek, Newsday, and Fivechapters.com, and he has taught at Brown, Haverford College, and Vassar. He lives in New York City and upstate New York. THE INTIMATES is his first novel. More information is available at www.ralphsassone.com.

Customer Reviews

Many of his observations are laugh-out-loud funny.
Jack Tierney
Sassone has terrific psychological insight into the characters in the novel.
Psych. Prof.
THE INTIMATES is one of my favorite books read ever, away or at home!
Coffee Shop Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By bville77 on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful and unusual book about the power of best friendship between a man and a woman who happen to sleep with other people.

Maize and Robby meet in high school and aren't the most natural pair of best friends. Maize is shy and gawky and unsure of what she wants to be in life but she's one of those quietly observant people who might be brilliant in an unflashy way. Robbie is flashy by comparison. He's a handsome, expensively dressed, ambitious straight A student from an affluent but messed up family. Despite their superficial differences they immediately get it that they're kindred spirits - two smart kids who don't yet have a clue about what or how to be in the adult world or how to be intimate with anyone but each other - and although they have plenty of lovers, they're sort of married to each other for the next decade.

This novel is gorgeous and fun.. the prose is full of suspense, drama, and humor. I didn't want to put it down. The Intimates is uplifting and wickedly funny and thrilling. I fell so in love with these characters and their story, I didn't want it to end.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SamNYC on February 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Got an advanced copy of this novel from a publishing friend and I'm really glad I read it. The Intimates is a dazzling book that follows two intensely close friends, Maize and Robbie, from their years as high school students through their twenties, when they live together in New York City. Along the way we get to see Maize and Robbie's relationships with divorced parents, stepparents, teachers, crush objects, hookups, and coworkers-all in scenes that are sharp, funny, heartbreaking, and surprising. This book is pretty amazing. One of the most gorgeously written novels that I've picked up in a long time, with great descriptions and plot twists. The Intimates is an exceptionally strong and original book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jack Tierney on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Intimates" is Ralph Sassone's first novel, an auspicious debut. It's an enchanting story about the close friendship between Maize and Robbie, a young woman and young man who are drawn to each other in high school, realize their relationship won't be sexual, and then become intimates, kindred spirits, over the years as they navigate painful predicaments and difficult relationships with other people.

Sassone is a sharp observer of the human condition. He writes here about sex and relationships with great sensitivity and warmth, and also with extraordinary wit. Many of his observations are laugh-out-loud funny. I look forward to future work from this fine author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By cbest on February 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A wise, sexy, completely believable book about a pair of attractive and intelligent kids growing up smart yet confused in a world run by basically clueless adults. It's also hilarious and very tender. Reminded me of me my friends and also (not exactly sure why) Salinger's Franny and Zooey, somehow. A really good read. Hugely recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By BS45 on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ralph Sassone's first book reveals an author with a knack for describing the human condition with originality and humor AND, most importantly, for writing a story that is enjoyable to read cover to cover. While the main thrust of the book is the unique relationship between Maize and Robbie, a whole host of interesting minor characters from places ranging from an Italian hotel to a suburban high school to a hyper-aggressive NYC real estate office each have a role to play in telling the story. It all makes for wonderful reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, but it is really difficult to describe. Reading it taught me a valuable lesson--the description of a book on its inside cover isn't always accurate.

The Intimates poses an interesting question: can you write a story about a friendship when in two-thirds of the book, the friends aren't ever together? Robbie and Maize became friends in high school. Once they removed the sexual component from their friendship (as Robbie began accepting his homosexuality), their relationship grew, until Robbie moved away, leaving Maize fairly rudderless. They reunited in college, where Robbie described their relationship as serving as each other's "human diaries," the person to whom each can divulge their most personal or painful insights or secrets.

The book is divided into thirds. The first third follows Maize in her senior year of high school, where she is longing to do something different but is too afraid to act; the second third follows Robbie on his trip to Italy to visit his estranged father and his girlfriend, where he makes what he thinks is a shocking discovery but is saved in just the nick of time from divulging it; and the last third follows the two as they, along with his new boyfriend, help Robbie's mother pack to move to a new house. This is a simplistic description of the multi-layered plot, which explores how friendship can at times be both an anchor and a weight.

This is a very well-written and intriguing book. Some of the language Sassone used was absolutely beautiful, and parts of the book definitely tugged at my emotions. I felt that he created two immensely complex, if not particularly likeable, characters. And that, fundamentally, was one of the two reasons I liked this book but didn't love it.
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