Rich Boy

Rich Boy[Reading] ➶ Rich Boy Author Sharon Pomerantz – Robert Vishniak is the favored son of Oxford Circle a working class Jewish neighborhood in 1970s Philadelphia Handsome and clever Robert glides into the cloistered universities of New England where sc Robert Vishniak is the favored son of Oxford Circle a working class Jewish neighborhood in s Philadelphia Handsome and clever Robert glides into the cloistered universities of New England where scions of unimaginable wealth and influence stand shoulder to shoulder with scholarship paupers like himself who wash dishes for book money The doors that open there lead Robert to the highest circles of Manhattan society during the heart of the Reagan boom where everything Robert has learned about women through seduction and heartbreak pays off For a brief moment he has it all but the world in which he finds himself is not the world from which he comes and a chance encounter with a beautiful girl from the old neighborhood and the forgotten life she reawakens threatens to unravel his carefully constructed new identity. This is pure escapist fun without being trashy The story's approach and focus reminds me a lot of Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar and than a cut above Shaw's Rich Man Poor Man High end chick lit or in this case lad lit But Pomerantz has a fertile sense of place and era that wafts of historical fiction I visualized the sensual transformation of New York City from what it was in post WW II through to the mid 1980's No skimping on the details of the rise of modern Manhattan such as TriBeCa and the Upper West Side I felt when the air was tumescent or icy and the clack and clatter of the streets was audible She does the same with blue collar Philadelphia and you can fairly smell the asthma provoking cleaning products of Stacia Vishniak taste the knishes hot out of the oven see the eyesore of one step above tenement housing The core of Robert Vishniak's ambition is tangible primordialRobert Vishniak lower middle class Jew from Philly has his eye on the big fat cherry pie He wants to get out of his humble straitjacket and into the movers and shakers world His brother Barry is five years younger and admires Robert's physical attractiveness and the benefits that go with it Robert attends Tufts in the late 60's and then finds himself in NYC after graduation driving a cab His brother the perpetual student selling drugs on the side eventually moves in with him His best friend from college Tracey teeters in a sexual identity crisis Robert glides from one cliue to another with ease even though inside he continues to have the uiet roar of desperation He falls in love with a wealthy but tragic woman when he is still young and unsophisticated in the ways of the world and the outcome of that affects his future countenance and attitude toward love and marriageThe primary men in this novel are fleshed out and the reader will be rewarded with a contoured intimacy with Robert and Barry and to a lesser extent Tracey The women are adeuately portrayed but not overly original You read this book for its page turning storytelling and the theme a search for a sense of home the striving to belong and of course the whole class struggle There's doom around every corner and an existential angst in every home The emotional punches are compelling and of course there are touches of melodrama but it isn't schmaltzy OK a few scenes border on schmaltz but that's all part of the WoukishnessA better than average beach read of a rags to riches fable Don't aim to be transported to an exalted state of mind; this novel won't revolutionize literature But it might just put a wiggle in your day I suffered a little heartbreak last night as I turned the last page of this wonderful novel; for the first time I had to fight the urge to go back to page one and begin again I've enjoyed many other novels and memoirs that present some version of the story presented here an American boy's hmm it's never a girl rise from poverty into the upper socio economic class by dint of hard work education and a hefty dose of ambition eg Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life Tom Perotta's Joe College and Steven Millhauser's Martin Dressler In this novel Robert Vishniak is our hero struggling to rise above his humble family origins and escape his Philadelphia working class community With a keen intelligence he sets off to a private New England college where he embraces his introduction into an upper class social circle Soon he is a successful New York lawyer married to a wealthy woman with a daughter he adores And here it gets interesting as the sacrifices and accommodations he's made to fit into this new social class contribute to his eventual undoing Apparently it took Sharon Pomerantz ten years to complete this novel; I hope I won't have to wait that long for her next Will someone please read this fantastic book so I can talk to them about it?? Something of a modern Gatsby though I hate to compare anything to that perfect American classic Pomerantz mentions Min Jin Lee being very helpful during the editing process or writing? and I can see similiarities to Free Food for Millionaires which was also great I couldn't wait to find out what happened but at the same didn't want it to end Robert Vishniak the main protagonist was born after WW11 in a lower middle class Jewish family and raised in Philadelphia His parents raised him and his younger brother Barry with a strong hand and did without to guide the boys in the upward direction in all ways They were raised to be hard workers and hard thinkers Robert manages to get into a Boston college in the mid sixties where he becomes fast friends with his very wealthy roommate Tracey He experiences people who come from great wealth of old money and lives through wonderful adventures and developes many long lasting relationships The latter years of the 1960's for Robert deal with the Vietnam War and his draft status Robert strikes up a relationship with a wealthy young woman falls in love and is devastated when the romance ends He spends too many years next running away from memories He finally realizes in his late 20's that the world is passing him by and that he needs to jump back into society and live He enters NYU Law School and chooses real estate law as his profession This story is gripping compelling and believable and written with dry humor and great informed intelligence It was a total pleasure to read This is the type of novel I couldn't get enough of about 30 years ago The saga of a self made man who manages to rise to the top of whatever pinnacle he aspires to provided much enjoyment and in the right hands insight The progression of coming of age discovery of worlds beyond the hero's early life his means of accomplishing success and it was always he provided escapism and at least in some cases voyeuristic fun But there was always some payoff and while this is a well written novel it is ultimately unsatisfying and for me wasn't worth the effort If I hadn't had to read it for review I doubt i would have finished it Just felt it had all been done before and better Pomerantz is a good technician but the book is emotionally cold The characters do not hold develop and since the book is told strictly from the point of view of Robert Vishniak does not advance beyond his experience leaving it remarkably one dimensional The story also suffers from lack of a personal history of the era For those who actually lived then and still have fresh memories of those decades the detailing is unfortunately flat A novel that follows the life of a lower middle class protagonist who eventually finds himself rich through hard work and social connections this novel is a great character and societal study The comment on how the class system of American society works is somewhat cynical but necessarily so I think Essentially Robert is able to find his way out of Oxford Circle because he is blessed with good intelligence and very good looks Are those the keys to the kingdom? Because even his intelligence only gets him so far At its core this is about a man who stuggles to forge his identity in a social system that is very controlled He has a hard time fitting in with the very wealthy and eventually learns that freedom as in personal autonomy is not something that can be bought So does that mean personal freedom and autonomy is unattainable a part of the American Dream that does not really exist? There lies the cynicism Things do turn out okay for Robert in the end as he learns to accept the situation he is in as opposed to forcing his hopes for his own situation on a society that is unwilling to change I liked the character despite his personal flaws I liked that this novel did not have a lot of action but rather was the story of a man's life For me it made the message plausable Another NPR Great Read that I agree with And best of all there was no romanticizing of the poor I hate it when authors do that Set in New York City which does play an important role in and of itself the novel is well worth the read A well written page turner Very entertaining one of those I couldn't put it down sort of books The novel follows the trials and tribulations of a young man from a working class family who achieves financial success and enters into the world of the very wealthy I'd put it in the class of fiction I call High Brow Soap Opera well written with good use of vocabulary but soap opera esue in terms of narrativethe kind of fiction that I tend to enjoy the most I liked that the story spanned the decades from the 1950's to the 1980's as I tend to enjoy books that are set in the relatively recent past The interweaving of historical events throughout the plot was done in a natural way and really added to the novel I found the description of the 1969 Vietnam draft lottery disturbingly intriguing and ended up looking it up on Google what a surreal event that wasthe draft was actually televised While the main character is not a particularly likeable person actually most of the characters aren't very likeable the uickly paced narrative and astute depiction of time and place made it a very enjoyable read If Marjorie Morningstar and Free Food for Millionaires gave birth it would be Rich Boy I read this book in a day a dreary rainy day The best day I have had in months If you like escapist epic family sagas this is great The book is incredibly readable fun characters I felt Robert had less depth than I would have liked but the plot needed to move Fun fun fun I liked it Bildungsroman for Richard Vishniak boomer and scion of Jewish working class Philadelphia who was conditioned since he was young to “make it big” in the financial world He ends up as a real estate lawyer in New York married into the nouveau riche Jewish community Taking place from the early ‘60s to the late ‘80sThe beginning was a little slow We’re tracing Richard’s life from roughly 14 to 40 but the main action and important connections he makes start in college And I think I’m becoming a crabby old feminist myself with regards to having to read Rothian characters like the harridan mother and the son defined by his sexual appetites and his self involvement That being said maybe I should cut the mother Stacia and the son Robert a little slack Stacia’s thriftiness and obsession for financial security made her into a character and someone who obviously influenced her sons her youngest Barry is a drug dealer cum broker throughout their livesRobertwell come on he’s not a monster self P Most of us are self interested especially if we want to “make it” in a capitalist society He had some interesting twists and turns in his life though some definitely made of a lasting impression than others Like in college he did drugs and attended counter cultural events Even at the time the latter was barely of interest to him and those around him and the former though perhaps getting him through a semester or two of school didn’t have long term physical or psychological effects For a brief period in the late ‘60s he was obsessed understandably with whether or not he’d get drafted to serve in Vietnam And then there’s his relationship with Gwendolyn his first love understood to be the first woman he’d want to screw than once who cast a very long shadow over his lifeI’m not sure Pomerantz succeeded in making Gwendolyn a character in her own right or if Robert’s obsession with her is evidence for my pile that he’s self involved than anything He built her up to be this sort of fairy princess When he lost her he went into an interesting sort of depression—driving a cab for years kind of vaguely thinking about life—until he wakes himself out of it and decides to become a lawyer Robert’s other two lady loves are interesting There’s Crea his wife who he met briefly in college through his roommate and then again by chance when he was interviewing to work for her father Crea is ok I mean she knows architecture and has been taught to be gracious and charitable being the first in her family to grow up in extreme wealth Part of me wants a spinoff so we could see how she spends her days and her relationship with her Judaism on the Jewish angle later Sally Robert’s sorta mistress is even better I’m not sure I buy what the back cover is selling that she “reawakens” Robert’s old Philly identity just because she’s from his hometown I think she challenges Robert because she doesn’t take his patronizing flirtatious bullshit and that’s refreshing I also like that Sally expresses her own desires for life and fears about the future completely independent of RobertThe male storylines work much better Particularly with the roommate Trace who is closeted and in love with Robert He’s later involved with one of Robert’s colleagues Mario a man who contracts AIDS None of this is melodramatic or hits us over the head with Issues In fact although Pomerantz makes reference to some current events as the 500 page book trundles along it’s a mostly insular story about relationships Robert’s career and desiresFinallywell the Judaism is interesting Almost as secular as a Roth book with each generation of Vishniaks becoming less observant Robert’s grandparents kept a kosher kitchen Robert’s mother volunteered for Jewish causes and Robert is hardly Jewish at all Except that he apparently wants to celebrate some holidays Or at least live in a home without a Christmas tree whereas his Jewish in laws did the whole “embracing secular Christmas” thing Sometimes Pomerantz hints that Robert and Crea feel relatively strongly about their positions but the narrative didn’t really go there much Still the whole idea of Jewish expression particularly when trying to make it big in a WASP y world is a compelling one Family sagas have long been a staple among American best sellers; the examples are wide and vast The very predictability of the family saga genre promises an absorbing yet familiar reading experience the once poor yet highly attractive and charismatic main character who overcomes all kinds of adversities goes through heartbreak and scandal and then emerges older wiser and in most cases wealthier than before or at the very least with enough knowledge to BECOME wealthierSharon Pomerantz mines this territory once with Rich Boy a novel infused with a heavy dose of melodrama combined with the realism of growing up American and Jewish in the pivotal years of the 60s through the 80sRobert Vishniak is a character on the rise We meet him when he is a pre teen pickpocketing his rich relative’s wallet so that his father will not have to experience the shame of losing at a card game The stage is set we know he is resourceful and will do whatever it takes to succeedIn the years ahead Robert will show his resourcefulness in many ways with his well heeled college roommate who harbors a “shameful” in some eyes secret with his unprecedented rise in his chosen law firm with his choice of stunning women all of whom are inevitably drop dead gorgeous sexually aggressive and somewhat manipulative He will also experience adversity with his first true love – Gwendolyn an extremely fragile socially conscious vulnerable and yes gorgeous and doomed young woman Sharon Pomerantz is at her best when she delves into an exploration of Jewish American life in the 1960s 1980s the one time outsiders assimilating and taking their deserved place within the social hierarchy The clash between the impoverished and frugal world that Robert shares with his birth family and the opportunities that are opening themselves for him is crisply done Here is Robert reflecting on the privileged life he shares with his moneyed wife and their young daughter “Why now when his daughter never needed to step inside a subway and every major possession they owned came with insurance and an alarm why now did he feel so nervous as if he had woken up in the wrong life – a life lived from car windows and behind locked doors?”The paranoia of the Nixon years the real estate and commodities boom and bust the drug culture and over the top parties of the affluent the wheeling dealing of law firms – all this is handled with aplomb Less successfully done is the focus on his Robert’s many relationships The women are mostly caricatures the self destructive and forever remembered first love the cold and moneyed wife the young and genuine actress on the cusp of discoveryas readers we’ve met these women beforeStill this is a particularly American story – a Jewish American story – of the class divides between rich and poor rich and obscenely rich It’s a story of “a family built for the 1970s” Those who like straightforward old fashioned rags to riches sagas will likely enjoy Rich Boy a great deal

Rich Boy PDF ¼ Hardcover
  • Hardcover
  • 528 pages
  • Rich Boy
  • Sharon Pomerantz
  • English
  • 01 June 2015
  • 9780446563185