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Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel by Taffy…
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Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel

by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

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3962942,972 (3.45)27
"Dr. Toby Fleishman wakes up each morning surrounded by women. Women who are self-actualized and independent and know what they want--and, against all odds, what they want is Toby. Who knew what kind of life awaited him once he finally extracted himself from his nightmare of a marriage? Who knew that there were women out there who would actually look at him with softness and desire? But just as the winds of his optimism are beginning to pick up, they're quickly dampened, and then extinguished, when his ex-wife, Rachel, suddenly disappears. Toby thought he knew what to expect when he moved out: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, tense co-parenting negotiations. He never thought that one day Rachel would just drop their children off at his place and never come back. As Toby tries to figure out what happened and what it means, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place. A searing, funny, and electric debut from one of the most exciting writers working today, Fleishman Is In Trouble is an exploration of a culture trying to navigate the fault lines of an institution that has proven to be worthy of both our great wariness and our great optimism"--… (more)

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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
This first novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a smart, well written exploration of a marriage gone wrong. Four characters drive the narrative and present for the reader the different examples of mid life struggles. For Toby Fleishman, he appears the poor but dedicated husband whose wife worked long hours as an agent because she wasn't happy with a salary gleaned by a liver specialist in a respected NYC hospital. Toby is also amazed at the world of dating right now for a short, Jewish doctor whose phone app continually pings him with invitations from woman who not only want him but advertise by showing parts of their genitalia. The beginning is funny and clever, like Roth or Franzen, depicting the current state of the world and making quotable observations.
We then start to realize the novel is being narrated by Toby's college friend, Elizabeth. "I was from Brooklyn, from a family full of girls who were expected to transfer from their childhood bedrooms to the bedrooms of their husband’s homes with no pit stops along the way." It is Elizabeth, called Libby, that provides the insights and then her own version of midlife that turns this novel into something more than originally expected. Libby, like the author, works for a men's magazine as the token female perspective and makes a living profiling famous men in her more understanding view. She is well aware that she has become almost invisible in her world. "But no one was watching. People didn’t look at me anymore. I’m allowed to go into bathrooms that are only for customers now anywhere in the city. I could shoplift if I wanted to, is how ignored I am."
Then the author turns the story around when Libby starts to tell the story of Toby's wife, Rachel.
One other amusing subplot is the third college friend, Seth. Here's Libby's description: "He’d stayed thin and had a well-executed fake tan and fake ultra-white teeth that played well against his leonine hazel eyes that picked up every shade of light brown in what remained of his hair. On his face he had the kind of two-day stubble growth we used to suggest that cover stars at the magazine nurture before their photo shoot that looks like benign neglect but is actually so evenly shaded that it could only be the work of meticulous planning. Man, all of it, he was still so handsome I could barely look at him." Seth is wealthy and charismatic in fact seems to have it all, but alas wants what his friends are questioning.
I have to admit I missed hearing of Toby's troubles and aligned with his pain of his wife abandoning her children, but then there were other factors to hear. Reminded me of Groff's Fates and Furies and that's pretty good company. Impressive first novel- highly recommend. ( )
  novelcommentary | Jan 17, 2020 |
This glorious mess of a novel, about 100 pages too long, needs to be read, but you'll be forgiven if you run out of patience and if the overwhelming prurience does you in. If you are a person who says, “There wasn’t one redeeming character in the whole book”, then run, don’t walk. The main one in trouble (there are oh so many) is Manhattanite Toby Fleishman, MD specializing in livers. He and wife Rachel, wealthy owner of a talent agency, are divorcing, and much of the narrative is the overly familiarly navel-gazing of Horrible Rich White People With Tiny Rich White People Problems.

Toby's astonishment at the lush pickings of available horny, self-obsessed women in his dating apps gets very wearying. His sole positive trait is his love for his kids, the spoiled and despicable 11 year old Hannah, running the private school mean girl marathon to an extent that must be unheard of outside of NYC or LA; and little Solly, who’s chunky, smart, and lonely. Rachel herself is completely crippled by lack of love from her hypercritical grandmother, who reluctantly raised her from age three with no kindness, interest, or love. And just her luck: a horrible c-section by a brutal on-call ob-gyn causes lack of attachment to the children.

There's also an extraneous narrator, Toby's college friend Libby, and another college friend Seth, who seems to be around just to show everyone what a mess unmarried people are too. Both should have been eliminated by a good editor. Libby's view of her own marriage and career may have been meant to provide the woman's rebuttal to Toby's thoughts, but it just doesn't work here, like it did so brilliantly in Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies.

In almost every page, there's the opportunity for the reader to scream LEAVE MANHATTAN NOW AND SAVE YOURSELVES. What makes it all bearable is the hilariously snarky jabs at all aspects of the lives of almost all the characters. It's also got plot swerves and dead ends that leave the reader in agonized suspense. I’m glad I read it, just for the experience, but you probably won’t want to, so I’m sharing the best lines.

Quotes: “I was so far apart from my life in New York that it was like I’d been sent to another planet to breed and colonize.”

“You can only desire something you don’t have.”

“He’s linear and infers rules from onetime behaviors, which drives me crazy.”

“She was golden and tan, like an Oscar with hair.”

“The men hadn’t had any external troubles. They were born knowing they belonged, and they were reassured at every turn just in case they’d forgotten.” ( )
1 vote froxgirl | Jan 12, 2020 |
Not really my style of book. Cynical - yet truthful in much of the cynicism - I just try not to revel in that too much. Was able to relate to some parts, some parts seemed to drag on. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jan 11, 2020 |
This to me was a great book. It was on the long list for the National Book Award 2019. It basically got universal excellent reviews from the usual suspects(Ny Times etc.). In terms of the negative reader reviews, many them did not finish the book which really sort of invalidates their reviews(in my opinion). The earlier you quit the less your review means. What I enjoyed about this book was that it created multiple points of view and the writing was terrific. The basic plot deals with Toby a 44 year old New York liver specialist who is divorcing Rachel a high end driven talent agent who makes 10 times what Toby makes. Are the characters in the books basically rich entitled people who may not elicit much sympathy for their problems from many people? However, liking characters is not necessary(for me at least) to enjoy a book. As we get into the book we begin to see Rachel as a monster but we see this through Toby's lens. Eventually Libby enters the book as a first person narrator. She is an old friend of Toby's who reconnects with because of his divorce. We also get see the world of the newly divorced as they navigate the world of dating apps and sexual hookups. This is a complex novel that deals with marriage, male and female roles, spoiled rich children and the world of the New York rich. I thought it was one of the best books I have read in the last few years. The subject matter connected with me. Read more about the book and see if it works for you plot wise. This is Taffy's first novel but she is a featured writer at the NY Times magazine. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jan 6, 2020 |
2020 TOB--This was so well written for a first book. Toby Fleishman, a stereotypical Jewish doctor, gets divorced from his wife Rachel. Rachel is a woman who wants more and more in life and goes after it. Toby reconnects with college friends during the divorce and the narrator of the book is one of those friends, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth has problems of her own in her marriage. Their other friend Seth has commitment issues but he's getting ready to propose to a much younger girlfriend.

Rachel goes off the deep end and Toby has to maneuver full time parenting at the cost of losing a promotion at the hospital. But overall Toby really tries hard at parenting and is a good parent.

This is a book about stereotypes, relationships on many levels and success and failure. There are many profound sentences in this book that made me take notice. How can the author Taffy Brodesser-Akner be so wise and yet so young?

This is a book that almost everyone can identify with. ( )
  kayanelson | Jan 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Many of its 373-pages seemed like padding, much of which consists of… sex.
Or sexting.
Or thinking about sex.
Or thinking about sexting.
added by MarthaJeanne | editBBC, Will Gompertz (Jul 27, 2019)
 
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Epigraph
Summon your witnesses.
—Aeschylus
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For Claude
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Toby Fleishman awoke one morning inside the city he'd lived in all his adult life and which was suddenly somehow now crawling with women who wanted him.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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