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The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel

The Biology of Luck

by Jacob M. Appel

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  BridgitDavis | Aug 11, 2017 |
Ahhh. Literary writing beyond description. The writing is so exceptional, I had to remember to pay attention to the story. This author is a writer's writer. Ordinary people, an ordinary place, a slightly unusual career, and one eventful day, tumbled together with characters and daily ruminations produce a splendid work of art through the amazing creative wordsmith, Jacob Appel.

Quotable lines abound. It is a book within a book, with the main character writing a book about the love of his life in an Indie sort of way. An eventful day interferes with this character's time to plan and daydream about his date at the end of the day. He has two life-critical subjects to broach with his lady.

As the colorful day progresses, relationships and history are revealed, and it appears doubtful any plan by the main characters will come to fruition. The book is delightfully detailed, subtly and boldly by turns, fascinatingly varied.

Jacob, I hope you are working on a sequel because it's unkind to leave us hanging with such a provocative ending. I highly recommend this book to all. ( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
The writing is both gorgeous and effective. The 'plot' and character development was awfully confusing. I couldn't tell if Bloom's manuscript was his fantasy, or whether he actually knew enough of Starshine's life to write something worth reading about her... I kept fearing that the end would reveal that she's nothing like what Bloom imagined her to be. Turns out they did already know each other well enough, and she had bent his ear enough about her complaints, that we can just go along with his novel as if it's the omniscient author showing us her life.

Um, even though these characters were people I wouldn't ever meet irl, and probably wouldn't like all that much either, Appel is talented enough to make me feel empathy for them, and to root for their success.

I also wonder about the bit when a character disparages Walt Whitman and 'those daffodils.' Is it the character, or Appel, who is confusing the WW authors? (the famous daffodil poem is by William Wordsworth) *I* think the author is not confused, and is poking a bit of fun at the character. But that begs another question: Does the author really expect all his readers to know that about the two poets? Or is that bit an 'easter egg' for those of us who do?

Well, there's lots more I could attempt to say, but none is worth trying to find the words for. All you and I need to know is that I enjoyed it, and am continuing to read from Appel's oeuvre.

( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I had expected to like it very much, but it simply did not work for me. The travelogue was nice, but the characters, though very well developed, just didn't do it for me. I feel bad about that, because so many others enjoyed it as much as I had expected to. ( )
  jetangen4571 | Apr 8, 2016 |
I received a free copy of The Biology of Luck via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

I finished this book last night and I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about it. I absolutely hated it, with a fiery burning passion, while I was reading it. Starshine and Larry are obnoxious, pretentious people who embody the worst characteristics of my generation. I could not stand to read about them and literally had to force myself to keep going. That said, the book is very well-written. Appel has a way with words and was able to paint a very vivid picture of New York City to someone like me, who has never been there before.

But how many stars can you really give a book you hated?

I have to deal with a lot of people, and a lot of nonsense, every day. When I come home and curl up with a book, I don't want to deal with more nonsense. I want likable characters.

I don't want Starshine, who in one breath says that men are harmless and in another is saying how she's afraid to be alone with a florist because men are only out to molest her. I don't want to hear about how she uses her good looks to con lonely bankers into giving her their own money, or how she doesn't want to work for any business that forces her to wear shoes. I don't want to hear her complaining about her aunt because it's no longer pleasant to visit her. I don't want to read about how she wants to, but doesn't want to, break up with her two... lovers? Boyfriends? I don't need to read about how the entire world is in love with Starshine - literally EVERYONE IN HER LIFE.

I don't want Larry, who hates himself and seriously contemplates suicide several times over the course of a walking tour. I don't want to hear him rolling around in self-pity because he's not good-looking, not rich, not good in bed. I don't want to read about his pretentious friends and their meetings at an upscale McDonalds. Larry seems to almost stalk Starshine, at least through his book, writing about her travels through the city, her encounters with her lovers, all building up to her date with him that same evening. Larry, and his book, were very creepy.

I don't want to read about unpleasant people. I kept waiting for some revelation that would make them more likable, something that would shed some light on why they act the way they do. It didn't come. I was both happy to finish this book, and unhappy, because the ending of the book was so entirely disappointing. When the entirety of your book builds up to an answer, please don't give a half-hearted non-answer as the last line of your book. How is "Yes, and no," the response received from a literary agency? Or is that not the response? Is that Starshine's response? The book will be published but she doesn't love him? After muddling my way through this book for literally three weeks because I could only manage to sit through about ten pages a day, I want a small reward. I want to know whether Larry got his book published. I couldn't care less whether he'll end up with Starshine, but I want to know about his book. And I don't know what's happening with his book, so I feel cheated. Why did I waste my time with this book when I could have read something enjoyable?

In the end, I think I can safely award The Biology of Luck two stars - one for the writing and one for making me care about the status of Larry's book. ( )
2 vote Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
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For Rosalie, obviously
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Harlem sleeps late.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0975374680, Paperback)

Odd-job queen Starshine Hart is about to go on somebody else’s perfect date. At 29, 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 nonthreatening 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. Juxtaposing 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 structure weaves a highly imaginative love story across all five boroughs. Provocative, funny, and keenly observed, an imagined pilgrimage through the underbelly of Gotham becomes a bold new voice in contemporary American fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:46 -0400)

Odd-job queen Starshine Hart is about to go on somebody else's perfect date. 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 nonthreateatening 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.… (more)

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