Wonderful Tale of the very wealthy inhabitants of Manhattan! Closing Costs is like having an insiders view of the life of the idle wealthy. Full of twist and turns. Great read for anyone interested in the happy and not so happy perils of the vastly wealthy.
From the reviews I had read and the blurb on the book jacket, I was expecting a delicious peeping-tom view of the rich and famous--a sort of Tom Wolfian treatment of the housing market and related obsessions of the movers and shakers in Manhatten. I enjoy such books for the same reason I enjoy regency novels. These novels of manners present a snapshot of a culture most of us will never experience (except in these books). From our comfortable world we can sneer at the foolish lives of these wealthy and influential people and get some satisfaction when their self-centered, materialistic pursuits end in financial and social ruin.
Unfortunately, most books of this type are like a scrumptious chocolate eclaire--lots of fluff, little substance. And, too often, after finishing one, the reader--like the diet-breaker--feels guilty, restless and unsatisfied. Because, I think, like ancient romans at the coliseum or modern television viewers of Jerry Springer's shows, we have gleefully watched the destruction of another living creature from a position of lofty and judgmental safety. We know nothing about the individuals--beyond a brief stereotypical description which plugs them into a certain social and economic strata. And we care even less.
So imagine my surprise as I discover, not only the witty dissection of these lives in the Big Apple, but a thoughtful and compassionate exploration of those lives.
Not an eclaire, but a four-course meal. Wow! And what a page turner.
I loved the way you framed the book with Lucinda's brittle narration (I believe these were the only two segments in her point of view). She becomes a modern day chorus/prophet/philosopher explaining, from her perspective,the housing market, other financial trends and the culture of a certain group of New Yorkers.
I loved Peggy and Lily and immediately cast the movie (Bette Midler and Julia Roberts). You didn't romanticize either one or hesitate to show their character flaws. But you made them human, and strong, and resilient. Lily may have fallen from the luxurious nest she'd built so pain-stakingly, but she doesn't collapse. Unlike her husband who runs away from trouble, she faces it head on and, though some of her methods are less than conventional or even legal, she survives and eventually triumphs. You don't give us any unrealistic expectations. Lily may have chosen the candy man over her exonerated Wall Street financier husband, but there's no doubt she will nudge Larry into franchising his Broadway Nut Shoppes--she's already remodeling his apartment. And he'll be a success due to her social skills--she was, after all, the biggest rain-maker for Barnett's firm. But you delve beneath her social-climbing, status-seeking, law-breaking surface and show a real person who has the courage to analyze her life and figure out what she wants. And, upon finishing the book, I am cheering for her and Larry, for Peggy and Monroe, Sophie and William and Paco, Rosemary and Guy, Mohammed and his family. And I am hoping and believing they will be just fine.
I have a collection of books that I re-read often as a special treat, knowing I will gain something new with each reading and also lift my spirits. They are all what John Gardner describes as "moral fiction" which I take to mean life-affirming. This collection includes Faulkner, Morrison, Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Austin, Grisham, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich and a few others. These books make me laugh and cry and sigh with contentment. I've added Closing Costs to this particular bookshelf
I thoroughly enjoyed this expose of the screwy world of New York real estate and the poeple who live in it. The comparisons to Tom Wolfe are apt: the author has a laser-sharp eye for the telling details that bring a character to life. But unlike Wolfe, Margolis stops just short of the jugular. He skewers these often misguided people, but has enough affection for them to allow them to live...which makes all the difference. They may be fools, but you care about what happens to them.
I'm surprised this book hasn't been more successful, especially among real estate-obsessed New Yorkers. It's well written, fun, and has many interesting and recognizable characters, including the Master-of-the-Universe wannabe and the wicked broker. For those of us who lived through the hopes and broken dreams of the dot-com boom, this is a fun, engaging read.
If you want a highly entertaining inside look at the surreal world of New York City real estate, buy this book. The characters are sharply drawn and if you live in NYC (or have spent a lot of time there) you'll recognize most of them, esp. the "take no prisoners" she-devil real estate broker.
Author Seth Margolis perfectly captures the life, times, and unique environment of New York City circa the early 2000s. Watch and laugh as he describes the incredible ascent of the New York City real estate market contrasted with the simultaneous decent of the lives of the characters within it.
Fun, funny, insightful, and just plain entertaining.