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The Narcissism of Small Differences

por Michael Zadoorian

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2611716,662 (3.46)12
"Joe Keen and Ana Cheever have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children or a mortgage, as their Midwestern values (and parents) seem to require. Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working at jobs that they're not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns. Ana is successful, Joe is floundering-both in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development. Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore? More than a comedy of manners, The Narcissism of Small Differences is a comedy of compromise: the financial compromises we make to feed ourselves; the moral compromises that justify our questionable actions; the everyday compromises we all make just to survive in the world. Yet it's also about the consequences of those compromises and the people we become because of them. By turns wry and ribald, kitschy and gritty, poignant and thoughtful, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of Joe and Ana's life together, their relationship, their tribes, their work and passions, and their comic quest for a life that is their own and no one else's"--… (mais)
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Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
I RECEIVED AN ARC FROM THE PUBLISHER. THANK YOU.

My Review: I think Author Zadoorian's Detroitophilia needed this book to come to a head...
It was a way for gray-flannel types to shed their inhibitions, go native, and get weird—uninhibited boozing, semierotic dancing to faux-exotic music, gaudy flowered shirts, sticky finger foods, unclad maiden flesh, and phallic tiki idols. At one point, Detroit had three Polynesian palaces, but when the city started bleeding honkies after the '67 race riot, all of them eventually closed.
–and–
Should you be going to tiki parties in your forties? Was it possible to maintain ironic distance for that long, or should you have outgrown it by then? How long before you needed an irony supplement?
Joe is an urban explorer, a man whose purpose in life is looking for something to look at; this isn't a tremendously profitable career, but he freelances as a local-music critic and spelunks the abandoned spaces of the city as his avocation. He has no mortgage and no kids, just a partner of over a decade, Ana. They're living an intentional life, but that ain't free. So Ana, his squeeze, makes the bills...in advertising, in a dead and dying city, that takes skill and luck which she abounds in.

And then, as it always will, Life happens. The two of them are wearing on each other. The thing about stasis is, no matter if it's tolerable or not, it has to end. Things in life are growing or dying:
“Truth like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.”
–and–
When is it going to end, this worshiping of ephemera? How long will our generation be obsessed with the past, with stuff that barely meant anything when it happened, that’s remembered only because it’s old or bad or weird or kooky?
There's nothing like the world for knocking your corners off...just sucks when the chunks go flying into those closest to you.
"You drop names and make references. You talk about songs, but rarely does a song speak to you. You laugh at cleverness because you recognize it's supposed to be funny, not because it is funny. You know about things for the sake of knowing about them, because you think you're supposed to, because you're afraid of being left out, not because they interest you. You're a dilettante, a potterer. You simply stopped trying to be anything more."
–and–
"It looks different through the lens, doesn't it?" {Joe's friend} said {to him}.
"I don't know why. It just makes more sense this way. It's easier to take in."
"Uh-huh. Sometimes what I'm looking at is too intense for me to understand without a filter, a way to view it. The camera helps." Brendan leveled his camera...and squeezed off a shot.
"Why is this so magnificent? What's wrong with us?"
"I told you...The verity of decay."
If Ana had wanted a sullen teenager, she would've had a kid...but here she is with a fractured man-child who resents her for winning their bread and whose friends are nasty pieces of White Male Privilege...Transphobia: one-half star off. N-word and repeated misogynistic bullshit use by white character: one-half star off. Yes, it's set in 2009...yes, it's not like these are people whose sophistication is meant to hold them up as examples. But this is ugliness and prejudice, and it doesn't get treated as such.

But the story is about more than that. It's about what it means to be You at last. These are forty-year-olds doing what the middle-aged literary characters of US while privilege are supposed to do: Reflecting on the emptiness of a life of getting and spending. And coming to terms with what they really, in fact, want from The System. Ana's decisions are less crowd-sourced...her one obvious friend isn't who she thought she was at exactly the wrong moment...than Joe's, but considering the caliber of his friends that's a good thing.

I found the story...exasperating. I found the dramatis personae...uncongenial. I found the ending...condign. ( )
  richardderus | Jul 6, 2021 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
Everything about this book appealed to me. I love the juicy cover, the retro font, the indecipherable title that is so fun to say. I was curious to read the story about an aging hipster and his long-term girlfriend in Detroit in 2009. Ana has a good job, Joe is a slacker. They are in their 40s and have been together for 15 years but never married. They are in a rut, individual ruts and a rut as a couple.

By the end, they crawl out of their ruts, maybe. It's hard to say. That's about all I can say. The book didn't really do it for me. It was OK, but I think I might be too old and settled to appreciate their story. Joe and Ana seemed young and foundering to be in their 40s. ( )
  RoseCityReader | Sep 20, 2020 |
Michael Zadoorian has written some wonderful books such as "The Leisure Seekers" and "Beautiful Music." This book, however, is a mistake from the beginning to the end. The author is usually extremely good at character development, but the main characters Ana and Joe, are a couple of aging hipsters whose biggest problem is that they are turning 40. First world problems are not enough to make a book relevant. Zadoorian evens sums the book up by quoting The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy when she states that nonconformists "are so violently individualistic as to be practically interchangable." Having spent 40 years living in Austin, TX, I have had more than my share of exposure to the hipster culture. I just wanted to tell Ana and Joe grow up and stop whining. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
An enjoyable, fast read. A portrait of a couple drifting apart due mainly to self-absorbtion. Had it been written by a woman, we might call this chick lit. Instead, it gets a indie literary treatment. The questions the cover copy raises about authenticity and selling out were a surface gloss, barley salient. The crackling dialogue, though not believable, was the best part. ( )
  libraryhead | Jun 22, 2020 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
This novel is about a couple, Ana and Joe, who have been together for fifteen years, outlasting most of the other couples they knew, despite never marrying or having children. They'd been happy with what they had -- Joe is a freelancer, writing for various alternative magazines, reviewing movies and music, and Ana works as an art director for an advertising company. But the cracks in the relationship have begun to show. Ana is tired of supporting them and of perceiving Joe's superiority in not have sold out like she did. Joe is finding fewer and fewer freelance gigs and tired of feeling like he's not doing his share. When Ana receives a promotion, things become less tenable.

This book is full of great observations. Joe and Ana are so well-crafted and believable that I was rooting for both of them even when I was yelling at one of them or the other in my head. It's a novel about Detroit, where Joe meets up with a blogger who explores and photographs Detroit's decaying splendor and they both are fiercely loyal to a city that means different things to different people. Michael Zadoorian is a fantastic writer, observant and with an easy style that made reading just one more page very easy. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | May 27, 2020 |
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"Joe Keen and Ana Cheever have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children or a mortgage, as their Midwestern values (and parents) seem to require. Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working at jobs that they're not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns. Ana is successful, Joe is floundering-both in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development. Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore? More than a comedy of manners, The Narcissism of Small Differences is a comedy of compromise: the financial compromises we make to feed ourselves; the moral compromises that justify our questionable actions; the everyday compromises we all make just to survive in the world. Yet it's also about the consequences of those compromises and the people we become because of them. By turns wry and ribald, kitschy and gritty, poignant and thoughtful, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of Joe and Ana's life together, their relationship, their tribes, their work and passions, and their comic quest for a life that is their own and no one else's"--

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