Long Island Compromise

Random. Jul. 2024. 416p. ISBN 9780593133491. $30. F
The Fletcher family of posh suburban Long Island is in serious disarray in Brodesser-Akner’s heartbreaking and hilarious second novel (after Fleishman Is in Trouble). Forty years after wealthy businessman Carl Fletcher was kidnapped, his grown children and long-suffering wife still feel the reverberations. Screenwriter Beamer is failing spectacularly while trying to conceal his massive drug use and sadomasochistic dalliances from his wife; oldest brother Nathan, fearful of everything, is stuck on a low rung at a law firm; sister Jenny wanders through life, taking up causes and guises in a fruitless effort to dissociate herself from the family. Observing her offspring flail and fail, all while offering witty and despairing commentary, is Ruth, whose own dreams were dashed when she had to tend to her fragile husband after he was returned home, having spent a week in captivity. A cast of dozens support and supplant the Fletcher family in this novel. Every story is keenly observed yet sympathetic, whether it’s the origin myth of grandfather Zelig, Long Island real estate maneuverings, over-the-top themed bar and bat mitzvahs, or the skewering of Hollywood politics.
VERDICT Generational trauma has never been so funny as when Brodesser-Akner writes it. This book is a must-read for those who like witty, observational novels, family sagas, and sharp dialogue and characterization.
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