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Triburbia Hardcover – July 31, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Greenfeld’s sensitivity to nuances of the zeitgeist and his keen observational skills make his characters (some of whom will seem eerily familiar to longtime residents of downtown Manhattan) instantly recognizable as creatures of their time and place without quite denying them their humanity.” (Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review)

“Greenfeld reveals his characters’ humanity with sly humor and an unerring eye.” (People)

“Greenfeld taps into something universal with Triburbia. . . . An accomplished journalist, Greenfeld brings a reporter’s curiosity and an artist’s empathy to his crackling, observant first novel.” (Entertainment Weekly (A-))

“Greenfeld is an acute social observer, but Triburbia is more than a chronicle of fading hipness; it’s also a loving examination of marital and family trials and ties.” (Boston Globe)

“The pleasures of Karl Taro Greenfeld’s writing are easy to catalog -- a crystalline, terrifically readable prose style; a vast repository of trenchant observations; and a caustic sense of humor that recalls Jonathan Franzen yet with a refreshing economy of speech.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Dubliners for the middle-aged downtown set. . . . Mr. Greenfeld’s prose is as lean and declarative as a newspaper article, though there are moments of creepy comic brilliance.” (The Observer)

Triburbia is darkly humorous, occasionally lascivious, unsparing in its condemnations of the main characters and intrepid in its honest descriptions of the human conscience… But it’s not a sad book. It’s a candid one. And a good one. It is reassuring, cathartic even.” (Downtown Magazine)

Triburbia is a snapshot of a Manhattan subculture at a certain moment in time. . . . An acclaimed memoirist and journalist turns to fiction to capture the spirit of his neighborhood in the full throes of gentrification.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Compelling. . . . Greenfeld brilliantly illuminates the pecking order and power plays behind the smug façade of this fashionable urban fortress . . . A surprising, involving, and strikingly perceptive tale of social and personal metamorphoses.” (Booklist (starred review))

“An absorbing first novel. . . . Greenfeld wields his critiques, humor, and observations to create a compelling little universe.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Pitch-perfect, dry, and smart, this is a vivid portrait of New York, our lives, our loves, and our hearts.” (Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief)

Triburbia is a chorus of voices so sharp, vivid, and finely tuned that New York sounds as if it’s speaking directly to us. But more than a portrait of a neighborhood, it’s also an absorbing exposé of the extravagant preoccupations and dark desires of the new millennium.” (Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints)

“Voyeurism this seductive and satisfying is usually attended with a trespassing charge. Thanks are owed to Karl Taro Greenfeld for removing the nasty middleman of legal repercussion.” (Amelia Gray, author of Threats)

“I loved Triburbia, loved dropping in on these wonderful characters with their outsized appetites and ambitions . . . Most of all, though, I loved Karl Taro Greenfeld’s deft satirical touch, the searing empathy with which he offers up his privileged, damaged people to the world.” (Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins and The Financial Lives of the Poets)

Triburbia, should share space on the shelf next to Tom Perrotta’s Little Children and Jeffery Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides.” (Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh)

“The excellent Triburbia brings to mind such modern masters as Cheever, Updike, and Salter, but Greenfeld delivers his own wonderfully sharp-eyed take on recent American life. . . . This is fiction of the first rank--intense, suspenseful, and relevant in the most urgent way.” (Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Brief Encounters with Che Guevara,)

“Set on the streets of Manhattan’s Tribeca as it transforms from an artist’s haven to a place for yuppies and their children, Triburbia showcases Karl Taro Greenfeld’s exceptional talent as both a storyteller and satirist.” (Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief)

From the Back Cover

Thrown together by circumstance, a group of fathers—a sound engineer, a sculptor, a film producer, a chef, a memoirist, a gangster—meets each morning at a local Tribeca coffee shop after walking their children to their exclusive school.

The sound engineer looks uncomfortably like the guy on the sex offender posters strewn around the neighborhood; the memoirist is on the verge of being outed for fabricating his experiences; and the narcissistic chef puts his quest for the perfect quail-egg frittata before his children's well-being. Over the course of a single school year, we are privy to their secrets, passions, and hopes, and learn of their dreams deferred as they confront harsh realities about ambition, wealth, and sex. And we meet their wives and children, who together with these men are discovering the hard truths and welcome surprises that accompany family, marriage, and real estate at midlife.

Fascinatingly layered and multidimensional, these linked stories, arranged like puzzle pieces, create a powerful portrait of unlikely friends and their neighborhood in transition. Striking chords that range from haunting and heartbreaking to darkly funny and deeply poignant, Triburbia marks the start of a brilliant literary career.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (July 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062132390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062132390
  • ASIN: 0062132393
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,539,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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Format: 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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