Tribeca writer Karl Taro Greenfeld’s first novel, Triburbia, comes out on Tuesday. It’s a novel of interconnected stories, mostly revolving around a group of dads who meet for breakfast after dropping their kids off at P.S. 234. “Greenfeld wields his critiques, humor, and observation to create a compelling little universe,” said Publishers Weekly‘s starred review.
I have three signed copies to give away to the first three people to identify the title of the book that Greenfeld wrote about his brother. Note: If you don’t have a doorman, you must arrange a location below Canal (such as a business) where I can drop the book off. Email the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. (UPDATE: All three have been claimed.)
As a teaser to the interview with Greenfeld that I’ll post soon, here’s a provocative little excerpt from the first chapter.
Here’s what’s wrong with us: there’s nothing at stake. That makes us oversensitive to minor transgressions, prone to disproportionate responses, quick to counterattack.
We are a prosperous community. Our lofts and apartments are worth millions. Our wives vestigially beautiful. Our renovations as vast and grand in scale as the construction of ocean liners, yet we regularly assure ourselves that our affluence does not define us. We are better than that. Measure us by the books on our shelves, the paintings on our walls, the songs on our iTunes playlists, our children in their secure little school. We live in smug certainty that our taste is impeccable, our politics correct, our sense of outrage at the current regime totally warranted.
Our neighborhood was settled by artists so long ago the story feels apocryphal. For almost as soon as the larger world became aware of Tribeca, in rushed developers and syndicators and builders and realtors and the name turned into a synonym for a kind of urban living: a little edgy, perhaps, but ultimately safer and richer than even Scarsdale. A certain type of family arrived, drawn by that safety and the faux-bohemianism of Downtown, driving out the actual bohemians. And now, we faux-bohemians find ourselves facing the onslaught of those who don’t even pretend to give a shit about books or theater.
We are cosseted, a warm little precinct, connected to the rest of the city, but for all our interaction with it, it feels as if there are drawbridges that keep out the would-be brigands and freebooters. They are among us on these sidewalks, but we don’t notice them, the chubby minority girls in their sweatpants and string-strap day-packs, the boys on their way to the community college with their heavy parks and earphones, rapping as they strut. They are local color: harmless, we tell ourselves, as unlikely to cause havoc as the pizza-delivery man or the fellow from Guatemala who works at the deli.
So it is a shock when an icy hand reaches in and ruins a life. We wake up to the news and feel that a blade has scraped against our heart. We look at our children and wonder how we let them become so exposed, but then, the sense of safety, the cordoned-off warmth, wasn’t that always the aberration? An island of gentle deceit in a dark, hostile sea of truth, truth, truth?