This month Milkweed Editions brings us James Wallenstein's newly released debut novel, The Arriviste. Set in the 1970s, the story features protagonist Neil Fox, an aging investor who has built his fortune on questionable business partnerships. A callous loner, Neil has lost his family through tragedy, divorce, and his own selfishness. Yet Wallenstein writes in an assured, understated manner that makes the reader empathize with Neil, even while his lack of values and cranky demeanor beg for him to be disliked. His static mid-life slump quickly changes when his persistent and annoyingly energetic new neighbor Bud worms his way into Neil's life of solitude, securing a business investment from him and his money-first, questions-later brother, Mickey. Wallenstein lives in New York, and ramped up his writing chops through a Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley, plus various teaching gigs, most recently at Wesleyan University. His work has been published in magazines such as GQ, The Believer, Hudson Review, and Boston Review. Wallenstein's little engine of a novel, which he spent five years perfecting, keeps gaining steam; his debut is garnering great press already. And that's one more reason to attend his reading: to be among the first to snag the book.
Wed., June 1, 7:30 p.m., 2011