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Cost: A Novel Hardcover – June 10, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Julia Lambert is a New York art professor spending the summer in Maine with her elderly father, a domineering neurosurgeon, and mother, a gentle soul succumbing to Alzheimer's. Julia's oldest son, Steven, joins the clan as tragic news surfaces: her second son, Jack, is addicted to heroin. Ex-husband Wendell, Julia's distant sister Harriet and Jack himself soon arrive, and intervention is on the agenda. Jack refuses to go quietly, and Robinson, who has worked in multiple genres (including penning a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe), engulfs the clan in a sea of resentment and repressed hostility, spiked with the intermittent need to feel close. Her unrelenting look at the deep physical and mental distress involved in heroin abuse is not for the faint of heart, with key portions of the drama unfolding through descriptions of Jack's perpetually itching skin, twitching muscles, heaving stomach, needle-tracked arms and addled brain. While the omniscient narration sometimes loses focus, Robinson offers adept closeups of family trauma. (June)
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From The New Yorker
Robinsons fourth novel is an engrossing tale of a patrician familys unravelling during a summer in Maine. Julia Lambert is a divorced artist, trying to entertain her oppressive, former neurosurgeon father (he points out everything thats wrong with his daughters run-down cabin) and her self-effacing mother, who is in the early stages of Alzheimers. Julias elder son suspects that his younger brother, Jack, is a heroin addict, and when this turns out to be true an intervention is staged. The familys ugly, dysfunctional history pours out in the process, in sharp contrast with the halcyon setting. Robinson moves nimbly among the numerous characters mind-sets, and although Julias meditations on "the long tradition of luminist painting" can drag, Jacks story maintains its tension until the final, affecting pages.
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Top Customer Reviews
My favorite character was "Katharine", the grandmother. She is the only one who admitted that she had a problem to anything in life which was losing her memory and couldn't even remember the word for it. Our of all the characters, she never seemed to have a mean streak in her through her whole marriage to Edward whom she doted on and relied on and even after all their years of marriage, Edward finally came to this realization that maybe he never really knew his own wife.
I would recommend this book to anyone who knows anyone who has a problem with this drug or any other opiate addiction. The author truly did her research on this drug and did a good job of it.
Soon Julia's elder son, Steven, turns up. He's abandoned his West-Coast tree-hugging days and announces his intention to apply to law school. He brings with him, too, terrifying news: on his way up, he'd stopped off in Brooklyn to see his younger brother, Jack. He's the family flake, and now it appears he's on heroin to boot.
When Julia pries this out of Steven (a prig more than somewhat, he seems to feel he's somehow ratting his brother out), she decides to summon her ex-husband Wendell and her sister Harriet (they don't like each other much) to a family conference.
Well, you know how this is going to go, don't you? Family conference, old issues to be hashed out, Jack goes to rehab--yes, yes, yes. Tears. Laughter. Slow fade . . . . er no. The tale turns noirish and takes on thriller aspects as it explores the experience of a junkie's death spiral. There are two absolutely harrowing scenes toward the end, one dealing with the two brothers in a boat (to say nothing of the lifejacket); to describe the other would be a spoiler.