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Tepper Isn't Going Out: A Novel Paperback – January 14, 2003
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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.
Top customer reviews
Throughout much of the book, I was struck by the seeming similarity of Tepper with Chauncy Gardner of the movie "Being There" as played by Peter Sellers. Though Tepper is not of course as "slow" or autistic-seeming as Chauncy, both men have monomaniacal obsessions with one subject (Chauncy-gardening and Tepper-parking), both are men of few words (and yet the rest of the world has come to believe that those few words are imbued with genious), both men mind their own business (to a fault), both men become semi-famous seemingly through no effort or intent on their part, and both men think that every question posed to them relates to their respective areas of obsession and thus their answers relate to that obsession. Of course, appearances can be deceiving...
THE REMAINDER OF THIS REVIEW IS ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE FINISHED THE BOOK!!
By the end of the book, it seems apparent in fact that Tepper is nothing like Chauncy Gardner becuase everything he did seems to have been scripted and choreographed by him to achieve exactly the result he was hoping for. It is true that his response to Fannon's theory is ambiguous. However, there seems to be alot of truth to his theory. After all: (1) Tepper's parking spots had nothing in common with each other, other than their apparent proximity to media types; (2)they were not near his home on West 84th; (3) he continued to return to the same spots even after he know that his appearance would create a circus; (4) he did absolutely nothing to avoid the groundswell of fame that was forming around him; (5) he was willing to sepak on or off the record to whoever desired to come into his car; and (6) he was willing to participate actively in the potential book and movie deals. It is also worth noting that the only answer he ever gave as to the "why" of what he did was the non- sequitor response of having time left on the meter--in other words, since he did not want to lie, and couldn't give the real reason, he gave the non-sequitor reason. It seemed somewhat far-fetched (i.e. unrealistic) to me that a person could hatch a scheme like that in the hope that it would wind up the way it did (as Tepper himself says, the person would have to be cynical), but he seems to have done it. But whether the "plot" was unrealistic or not does not change the fact that I though it was a great book.
In a nutshell, this story is about an older man who lives in Manhattan and pulls into good parking places when they are available...even though he has no intention of getting out of his car. And he remains there until his meter has run out.
He does this simply for the delight of having that coveted parking place that had so often been unavailable in the past...when he needed it. The story continues with poor Tepper's run in with City Hall, when the manic mayor is convinced that Tepper's actions have darker ulterior motivations that have negative political consequences for those currently in power.
Some reviewers have said that one needs to live in Manhattan to truly appreciate this story, but I have to tell you, living in any big city nowadays one can identify with the concept of the "good parking spot". And as for dealing with government bureaucracy, well... I think we can identify with that too!
This is a quick, fun read, and there is even a little "twist" at the end. Highly recommended. This is a very funny book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Even though we live in a post-September 11th world that lionizes ex-mayor Guliani, the quirks in his personality that many New Yorkers came to know are satirized wonderfully well in this slim volume, which boasts a unique premise and funny descriptions on every page. Almost everyone I know who lives in NYC has a Calvin Trillin anecdote to share, of his wry observations at PTA meetings or his gustatory delight on display while eating some spicy food.
Reading Trillin is like being in Manhattan - and that's even when he's talking about D.C. or Kansas City. Tepper is well worth the trip, and you don't even have to leave your living room.