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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Always Lose
"Triburbia" by Karl Taro Greenfeld took me by surprise. I had enjoyed "Boy, Alone," but I thought that I had read enough books about New Yorkers to not have much tolerance for this new title.

Greenfeld takes us into Tribeca through interlinked stories. A group of fathers meets each morning for coffee after dropping the kids off at the same school. Each man or...
Published on July 15, 2012 by Eileen Granfors

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but familiar
Triburbia chronicles the lives of a loose-knit group of Tribeca husbands, fathers, wives and daughters. Each section is told from a different viewpoint, so that the resolution to the main conflict in one section may only be mentioned in passing in another section. Real estate, money and the relationship between the two is viewed by all the characters as just as...
Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Always Lose, July 15, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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"Triburbia" by Karl Taro Greenfeld took me by surprise. I had enjoyed "Boy, Alone," but I thought that I had read enough books about New Yorkers to not have much tolerance for this new title.

Greenfeld takes us into Tribeca through interlinked stories. A group of fathers meets each morning for coffee after dropping the kids off at the same school. Each man or his wife or child has a story to tell in Greenfeld's book. Their vices are dominant enough to make them thoroughly unlikeable, yet watching people behave badly can also be highly entertaining.

Greenfeld covers the affairs, the drug use, the collapse of the economy. He brings in two fathers used to sharing their experiences with autism. He notices the children's hierarchy of power plays in the school yard among the eight-year-olds where there is already a pecking ordered established by the dominant girl.

The book is short. My favorite element of Greenfeld's style is the shifting of narrators through the chapters. We get inside the head of the personality-driven gangster as well as the crafty writer, who may be making things up.

"Triburbia" focuses on a small neighborhood in New York among the one-percent. It is a literary adventure to behold the rich if not famous few unraveling in the economic meltdown. Darkly humorous and heartbreaking at the same time, Karl Taro Greenfeld has developed into much more than being "Noah's brother" from his father's legendary series of books about autism published long before most people knew what autism was. Karl Taro Greenfeld writes with surprising insouciance about life in the fast lane.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival of the Twittiest, June 7, 2012
By 
lb136 "lb136" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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This weirdly satisfying Jennifer Eganesque weave of interconnected short stories is set in Manhattan's Tribeca district during the 2008-9 school year, the time in which the group of fathers (see the product description) meet for breakfast after delivering their kids to primary school.

But the women in their lives, and the children themselves, are equally important.

Many of Karl Taro Greenfield's stories concern the family at 113 North Moore Street (each story title is the address of one of the families), which consists of Mark, the sound engineer; his ridiculously scatty wife Brooke (she's an editor of a magazine who seems to spend most of her time getting stoned); and their two girls, the eldest of whom, Cooper, is the class Mean Girl.

The quality of the stories, with one exception--a predictable tale in which the collection's celebrity Italian chef takes his family on a Mediterranean cruise aboard a yacht--is quite high. A gangster (and his name doesn't end in a vowel) takes umbrage when he learns that his girl is being bullied by Cooper. A sculptor is having an affair with a woman who looks very much like his wife. A once-avant garde puppeteer becomes the neighborhood handyman. A playwright discovers, after he separates from his wife, that he gets along with her better now that they aren't speaking. And throughout there is reference to a possible sexual assault by someone who looks like Mark.

Maybe the best story, however, deals with a memoirist who, it is discovered, has invented facts in his magazine stories and in his bestselling memoir. He seems to be the victim of an Emily Thorne ("Revenge") style takedown. Mr. Greenfeld uses this tale to make the point (often overlooked) that the line between a memoir and a novel is quite thin indeed.

And all the stories end with some sort of climax. They do not evaporate away like so much "postmodern" fiction. Violence does not happen just when you think it's about to; a seemingly innocent scene involving that sculptor,who's a former baseball pitcher, and a radar gun takes a surprising turn.

Mr. Greenfeld doesn't seem to like most of his characters. Even a beauty who has her face redone after an auto accident (an homage to Jennifer Egan's "Look at Me" perhaps?), and who seems at first to be stronger than the others, turns out to be yet another twit. He writes exceptionally well. For example, Sadie, Mark and Brooke's babysitter, is contemplating a college career, and decides to major in English. The author cites her "leaky arithmetic and indifference to algebra."

Also, Mr. Greenfeld is quite clever at finding the proper voices for his characters. Those who the reader well imagines can write well tell their tales in the first person. In the case of the less articulate, the author opts for third person.

The time frame is important. Just as so many novels of the last century suddenly take a turn when they encounter the events of October 1929, much 21st-century fiction will, I fear, throw readers up against the autumn of 2008.

There's a coda, set in LA, in the present day, which brings the characters back for a final bow--proving, I suppose, that even the twitiest shall survive.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars impressions, June 23, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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I liked this book. I see some people once again didn't care for it because the characters were not "likable." What is this, anyway? You don't have to like a character for him/her to be interesting. Was Hannibal Lecter likable? I didn't think these people were likable either, but in reality it's probably how they are. You can see how the children pick it up from their parents as well (e.g., Cooper, Anouk). These were the impressions I picked up and made me enjoy the book. It's a collection of stories about people living in Tribeca, and in each chapter, one neighbor is found to be somehow involved with another. It reminded me of Schnitzler's La Ronde (Reigen), although the characters in that work come around in a perfect circle. The idea, however, was similar. In one chapter the characters seem to have a happy marriage, in the next, one spouse is having an affair. The author who fabricated his work about Japan and sold it as nonfiction reminded me of A Million Little Pieces. I wondered if that was intentional. The cover grabbed my attention, as it looked like a book of antique cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s.The book was an interesting read, but I couldn't quite give it 5 stars. I was able to put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but familiar, March 21, 2013
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Triburbia chronicles the lives of a loose-knit group of Tribeca husbands, fathers, wives and daughters. Each section is told from a different viewpoint, so that the resolution to the main conflict in one section may only be mentioned in passing in another section. Real estate, money and the relationship between the two is viewed by all the characters as just as important, if not more important, than any other relationships in their lives. The novel is interesting and amusing, but it is hard to have sympathy for most of the characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unable to invest in unlikeable characters, September 26, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
Another advance read from the folks at Harper, this book straddles the increasingly fuzzy line between novel and short-stories. Like a few other books I've read in the past year, each chapter focuses on a different character who is connected to other chapter narrators. Most of the main characters are men, although women and even a child do take center stage in some pieces. All of the characters live in Tribeca, an area that had boasted an artistic vibe but grew ever-more exclusive and expensive until the recession began to impact values. Most of the main characters do have an artistic side, although some are more dedicated than others, and the focus is on a group of fathers who meet for breakfast and are mostly tied by the fact that they drop their kids at the same well-off public school. Underlying themes include fear surrounding an unidentified child molester, a playground hierarchy, and many struggling marriages (with a heavy dose of infidelity).

My copy lacked the map that is in the final print and might have been helpful in keeping things a bit straighter in my head. I wanted to like this much more than I did and it did become a struggle to make myself finish this. I do tend to feel a bit unsatisfied by short stories, but I think that can be overcome in this vignette format. There was some continuity, but these characters and stories didn't do much for me. I can deal with imperfect characters, but it was hard to invest in anyone here....especially with the non-stop infidelity I was interested in the thread about the already-growing hierarchy among the grade-school girls and that was really the only part that kept me going.

I never do like giving anything below three (and think I end up staying there or higher since I do try to pick books that I'll like!), but honesty makes my good reviews more genuine -- Two stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A privileged few, August 21, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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While billed as "a novel", Triburbia is a series of short stories, all first-person accounts of the individuals' lives in Tribeca, a Manhattan neighborhood of industrial lofts which was famously occupied, beginning in the Sixties, by various creative types who needed the space these locations afforded them, and enjoyed cheap real estate prices because the neighborhood, losing its industrial tenants, did not have the conveniences of a residential community.
The Triburbia characters, all identified by their street addresses--if there was any question that their lives revolve around the cachet of the real estate they occupy--turn up in each others' stories. Many of the men have breakfast together after dropping their children at the local public elementary school, and some of the parents end up having extra-marital relationships.
(New Yorkers familiar with the community know that the "school" these children attend is also largely populated by the residents of a middle-income apartment building nearby, which really served to make this area residential, but to read this book you'd never know it).
Except for one second-generation Tribecan, a high school student who travels by bike, lives with her father in a rented loft, and works as a babysitter for two of the privileged children, the Triburbia characters are all wealthy, even if they don't believe so, with second and third homes and fancy automobiles which they apparently have garage spaces for, because there is not one minute of discussion of finding parking places, an obsession of most New York City car owners.
A major theme here is girl-on-girl cruelty, with one particular alpha female of one family treating many others, including the daughter of another family, so badly that they end up transferring to private school, but there is no other exploration of "friendship", aside from the dads' breakfasts, at which they read the paper and discuss nothing substantive. The relationships between the adult women are totally unexplored. The personalities also seem one-dimensional in that most are in their thirties, yet only one mother seems to have a parent involved in her life, and that "involvement" is only his availability for periodic financial contributions.
Among the male characters is a writer who is caught fabricating works which were believed by all to be non-fiction, and he observes good sales of what is probably his last book, at first, out of curiousity, but the expectation that the book "won't have a long tail"--won't sell well in the long term, once those who are curious to see what the fuss is about have their copies. That is something I also expect with Triburbia, which has gotten a lot of press for its local references, which will be familiar to New Yorkers of a certain class, but which is otherwise not that interesting a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars random stories in tribeca urban area, September 25, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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Being a newyorker and quite familiar with the tribeca area, I must say this collection of stories are so trivial and mundane that it was boring. Drugs, artists, premature children with peer power at school. Overpublicized and trivially boring. Go read something in historical romance and you might enjoy it more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INSIGHTFUL, COMPASSIONATE AND PUNCTUATED WITH BLACK WIT, August 27, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
It's not often that I'm truly saddened by reaching the last page of a book, but that was the case with Triburbia. Karl Taro Greenfeld has so winningly introduced me to the well-to-do residents of Tribeca, made me privy to their private thoughts, hopes and aspirations that I'm reluctant to let them go. I've spent just a brief time with them - the space of a school year.

These folks are a photograph album of Tribeca once it becamee one if not the most fashionable neighborhood in New York City. It's 2008 and there
s a creeping uneasiness - the financial crisis has not yet occurred. We meet a disparate group of fathers who gather for coffee after walking their privileged offspring to school. Were it not for the common neighborhood and their children they probably wouldn't give each other the time of day.

The men are identified by street addresses - for instance, 113 North Moore is the home of a 37-year-old half-Chinese, half-Causasian sound engineer. He describes his neighborhood as "a prosperous community. Our lofts and apartments are worth millions. Our wives vestigially beautiful. Our renovations as vast and grand in scale as the construction of ocean liners."

As we've oft heard money does not buy happiness. In his case when some believe a child molester is in the area, flyers are made, tacked everywhere, and the photo looks very much like him. One of his daughters, Cooper, is the cruelest 4th grader to be found. She relishes excluding other girls from her circle, not allowing them to play jump rope with the chosen few.

This tactic so destroys the daughter of Rankin. a Jewish gangster who lives at 57 Warren Street, that she constantly weeps. He's able to frighten most grown men but does not know what to do about Cooper, finally deciding to give a sizable donation so a Hebrew school can be built for his daughter to attend.

There is, of course, the husband who is having an affair with a neighbor's wife, a nanny who quickly learns how to get the money she needs to go to college, a successful memorist whose writing turns out to be a product of his fertile imagination, and so it goes. Each resident is not only parcel and part of that neighborhood but also of an era.

Insightful, compassionate and punctuated with black wit Triburbia has let us share a fascinating world. Don't miss it.

- Gail Cooke
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Mr. Roger's neighborhood!, August 22, 2012
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
Triburbia is a book told in connected short stories, narrated primarily by a group of dads who meet for breakfast after school drop-off, with occasional chapters told by their wives or daughters. It is a work of fiction, however, the characters are clearly based on actual people the author knows in Tribeca, and I suspect if the reader lives/lived there in or around 2007 he/she would recognize them all. Two of the characters would be recognizable by readers who do not have any knowledge of the neighborhood, but I will not spoil it by naming them. Most of these characters are unlikable:they sleep around, lie, swindle, and are very affected or very weird, but somehow, you just can't stop reading about them! In addition, the author, through the characters' musings on life, brings up some very interesting ideas to ponder about marriage, power, child rearing, aging,the gentrification of a neighborhood, the influences of Wall Street, and writing. I thorougly enjoyed Triburbia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, good writing, August 14, 2012
By 
Brad Teare (Providence, Utah, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
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This extremely enjoyable book is more a short story collection than a novel. The stories are very loosely tied together with characters appearing in each other's stories almost like cameos. Some stories are more closely tied than others. The subtle but clever intertwining of plot and characters works and ultimately is a lot of fun.

Another reason I enjoyed this book is because it has a sense of humor. There are less humorous passages, it starts out seriously with news in Tribeca of a possible sexual predator, but the predator story never becomes the major theme and overall the mood remains on the light side. I especially enjoyed the short story about the puppeteer. It was a thinly veiled reference to a Muppets/Shari Lewis amalgam and is quite funny in places.

I also enjoyed the story about the memoirist who faked his biography. It was the longest and most gripping of the stories. I learned later that the author is a celebrated memoirist which explain why this section was written with such authenticity.

For people with my cultural background, which I regard neither as inferior nor superior, I feel compelled to mention that there are some unpleasant sexual references (for which I subtract one star) as well as some vulgarity. On balance the swearing is no more excessive than the average Tribeca dweller. So if you are familiar with the culture it probably won't bother you too much. I mention this for readers such as myself.
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Triburbia
Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld (Hardcover - July 31, 2012)
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