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The Portable Veblen: A Novel by Elizabeth…

The Portable Veblen: A Novel (2016)

by Elizabeth McKenzie

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3112935,843 (3.64)71



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This book is an odd and delightful surprise. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
"If you love it enough, anything will talk with you." (G.W. Carver--epigraph)

Desperately needed an escape from my Cormac McCarthy binge. Thought a talking squirrel might be just the ticket. (Partially worked, but not really my thing--neurotic family relations Thirty-somethings past time to move on from familial blame. Needed more input from the squirrel, IMHO.) ( )
  beaujoe | Jun 8, 2017 |
This was a very creative book with a unique story. It was long listed for the 2016 National Book Award. The writing is excellent and the author shows excellent creativity in a story that deals with many different issues. Essentially we have a 30 year old woman and a 34 year old man who both come from borderline dysfunctional families and come together. They quickly fall in love and decide to get married. We get to see how their families impact them in terms of their own coming together and also dealing with their family problems. We also touch on themes of corporate greed(Paul the man is a neurologist who has invented a device to deal with battlefield injuries). Because the book lagged a little in places ,I gave it a lower rating than its' creativity deserved. I will check out her other novel. Overall a good book and one I recommend. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jan 11, 2017 |
Since I am too busy adding the books I've read over the last (5? 8?)years to write my own reviews, I am pasting in part of a New York Times review of this book. It is just too good for me to be the only person on LibraryThing who lists it(apparently).

"One of the great pleasures of reading Elizabeth McKenzie is that she hears the musical potential in language that others do not — in the manufactured jargon of economics, in the Latin taxonomy of the animal kingdom, even in the names of our own humble body parts (who knew about the eye’s “zonule of Zinn”?). Her dialogue has real fizz and snappity-pop. It leaves a bubbled contrail.

"Ms. McKenzie’s ear is not her only asset. There is also her angled way of seeing things. The hats on all of her characters sit slightly askew.

“The Portable Veblen,” Ms. McKenzie’s second novel, may be her most cockeyed concoction to date. (She is also the author of “Stop That Girl,” a collection of short stories, and “MacGregor Tells the World.”) It’s a screwball comedy with a dash of mental illness; a conventional tale of family pathos; a sendup of Big Pharma; a meditation on consumption, marriage, the nature of work.

"Have I mentioned that one of her characters is a squirrel?"

(partial quote of review on The NYT by Jennifer Senior) ( )
  evacarey | Jan 2, 2017 |
Delightful and earnest. Veblen has had an unusual and difficult upbringing but the beauty of life cannot be snatched from her. She has an affinity with nature, and nature pays back the love. A squirrel, possibly a Nutkinista, takes up Veblen's cause when the human conspire against her. This sounds like the stuff of a classic children's coming of age novel, but Veblen is an adult, fully realized woman who is made of fierce but kind stuff. Her hypochondriac mother, PTSD damaged ersatz father, and upwardly mobile fiance all pull her in their own direction. Veblen's internal compass is pushed to the limit as wedding preparations roll on. She inspires those who want to kick conspicuous consumption and decadent aesthetics. Thorstein Veblen is present in an almost spiritual sense. For those that are happy rolling along with the status quo, think again. Life has a richness and reward that goes beyond the next purchase. I bought this at Roscoe Books, Chicago, IL. Support your independent book sellers! ( )
  ReadingFury | Dec 31, 2016 |
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"If you love it enough, anything will talk with you."  -- G. W. Carver
for James Ross Cox
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Huddled together on the last block of Tasso Street, in a California town known as Palo Alto, was a pair of humble bungalows, each one aplot in lilies.
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