Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Book Review: The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel

Title: The Biology of Luck
Author: Jacob M. Appel
Publisher: Elephant Rock Books
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 234
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review Copy via Author/Publisher

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Odd-job queen Starshine Hart is about to go on somebody else's perfect date. At twenty-nine, the usually carefree Starshine has realized that it is easier to start sleeping with a man than to stop. Her lovers include one of the last underground members of the Weathermen, and the dilettante heir to a lawn chair magnate. Both men have staked their romantic future on her. Her only respite is her impending dinner with the non-threatening but unattractive tour guide Larry Bloom. But Larry, too, has a stake in her future. He has written a book about their impending dinner in which he fantasizes about Starshine's life on the day he wins her heart. The Biology of Luck juxtaposes moments from Larry's guided tour of New York City on the June day of his "dream date," with excerpts from the novel in which he imagines Starshine's concurrent escapades. This inventive novel-within-a-novel structure weaves a highly imaginative love story across New York's five boroughs. Provocative, funny and keenly observed, Appel's imagined pilgrimage through the underbelly of Gotham will establish him as a bold new voice in contemporary American fiction. (Goodreads Synopsis)

The Biology of Luck is one of the most joyful books I've read in a long time. By that, I mean that little burst of warmth in your heart you get when reading something truly delightful and enjoyable. I loved every page of this book and couldn't wait to read on, yet also dreaded it coming to an end.

This is an interesting (much abbreviated) modern take on Joyce's Ulysses, with all the action taking place in the course of one day and with the protagonist aptly named 'Bloom'. It manages to turn certain narrative presumptions on their head but still tell the story with exquisitely crafted prose, engaging and endearing characters and a good dose of joie de vivre.

One of the things I loved most about this work was the way the characters were so three-dimensional, believable and so very recognisable that they could easily be you or me. It is that which really draws you into the book right from the first page and holds your attention until the end.

I would reread this book in a heartbeat and would be very keen to read more by this author. This is a stunning work of literary fiction that I can highly recommend.

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