Little Disasters

Viking. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780735221680. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735221703. F
On the hottest day of the year, smoke rises from midtown Manhattan in the wake of a mysterious disaster. Without public transit, electricity, or cell phone service, Michael Gould and Paul Fenniger each attempt to make their way home to Brooklyn and the woman they both love. Michael and Paul met one year before in the waiting room of a Brooklyn hospital on the night their wives gave birth. Michael and Rebecca left the next morning with an infant son; Paul and Jennifer did not. In the aftermath of their loss, Paul engages Michael's carpentry services to transform the unused nursery into a home office for Jenny. The two couples develop a tentative friendship even as Michael and Jenny initiate an affair that promises to destroy both marriages. In Michael, first-time novelist Klein has realized a deeply unlikable, slyly funny protagonist who feels fully three-dimensional. The other characters, especially the women, are obscured under the veneer of Michael's interpretation, yet it works for the story. Using alternating first-person narration and an oscillating time line, the author ratchets up the tension and cleverly exposes the gap between reality and perception.
VERDICT Readers of literary fiction will be intrigued.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month