Author: Ilan Mochari
Date of Publication: April 15, 2013
How I Heard About It: I'm reviewing "Zinsky" as part of the book's extended tour, hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thank you to the author for the review copy!
Two Sentence Summary: Narrated by a brilliantly neurotic young man (Ariel Zinsky) with an entrepreneurial spirit (though misguided and dangerous at times), "Zinsky" is a record of massive failure, flux, and fiscal triumphs. The (im-) balance between deep interpersonal baggage with an obsessive desire to create a (football expert's) legacy creates an addictive tension; coupled with Mochari's consistent stylistic choices, it's an impressive read.
"Oh readers, I must confess - the naive 22-year-old Zinsky still believed the pendulum of romantic karma would swing in his favor! He had a divination of deserving idyllic coupling because of all he'd suffered. Does it sound corny? Naive? Or worse - typical? Perhaps I should have known better."
"A successful Guide could make me the Dickensian hero of my own life - could provide indisputable evidence that all my beatings and sufferings and subsequent musings had amounted to something: I'd have risen from my circumstances and triumphed. I'd have earned the right to guiltlessly share my story as a tale of valor."
Things I Think: The comparisons other reviewers have made to Dickens, or to "A Confederacy of Dunces," are entirely accurate, both stylistically and thematically. Mochari's diction and lexicon in "Zinsky" hearken back to more classic literature, and the bursts of dark humor and self-deprecation continually made me think of similar loops in "Tristram Shandy." To have found a voice like this still exists, in our generation, is as much a relief as it is enjoyable.
The narrator is compelling in his realism - nothing is sugar-coated here, readers! Paternal abuse suffered by the narrator, mishaps of puberty and sexual encounters, ultimately selfish decisions that will become closeted skeletons ... We are spared nothing when it comes to gory detail, and though Zinsky sports no shortage of flaws, his willingness to "own up" in his account allows us trust his tales.
I am absolutely looking forward to more work from this first-time novelist.