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The Lost Legends of New Jersey by Frederick…

The Lost Legends of New Jersey

by Frederick Reiken

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156010941, Paperback)

In Frederick Reiken's first novel, The Odd Sea, a family grappled with an almost unreal dilemma: the unsolved disappearance of a son. His second effort, The Lost Legends of New Jersey, is also a family saga. But this time the focus--the suburban dissolution of the Rubin clan--is more mundane, and the novel's casual eye toward chronology keeps the plot from accumulating much in the way of momentum. Indeed, the only way young Anthony Rubin can make sense of his experience is to give it a legendary spin:
He was always doing that, making things up, trying to see how it all might fit into a legend. He didn't understand why he did this, because New Jersey was not a legend. It was the armpit of America, according to most people. Still he saw everything around him as a legend.
Anthony, of course, has plenty to contend with. His father, Michael, is a none-too-subtle (if goodhearted) adulterer. His mother, Jess, is prone to breakdowns and would rather be underwater at any given moment than with her children. His best friend, Jay, drifts away when Michael's smoldering affair with Jay's mother begins to disrupt the Rubin marriage. And the alluring girl next door, the brash daughter of a high-stakes gambler, seems always just out of reach. Reiken's style remains unblinking and direct throughout, suggesting that there are no good guys or bad guys in Livingston, New Jersey--just complex, tangible people who remind us what it is to be human. And while Anthony's losses may feel devastating, or even legendary, he knows that they are ultimately survivable. "It's always strange to me that all this is so comforting," he says. "And yet it is." --Brangien Davis

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

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