Michelle Schingler's Reviews > The Biology of Luck

The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel
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it was amazing
bookshelves: first-reads

Appel's sophomore novel is a lovely and adroit read, at once an ode to New York City and a story about human longing within its boundaries.

Larry Bloom is one of Manhattan's many unsung inhabitants, a tour guide with aspirations to literary, and romantic, greatness. The focus of his romantic interest is Starshine, a beautiful and, from his perspective, unattainable free-spirit.

For Starshine, and in a bid to distinguish himself from the masses who share his dreams, he's written a novel, "The Biology of Luck". It is once a tribute to her and an assurance that she's been seen--that the things which haunt her, that her deepest fears, have not gone unnoticed by those who adore her, and that there are those who wish to offer her real respite.

Despite Starshine's beauty, despite the fact that eyes are always on her, Larry seems convinced that her life is absent the intimacy which he's also lacking; he hopes that presenting her with the accepted manuscript will bridge the gap.

The reader never gets to see how closely Bloom's Starshine resembles the woman herself. As Larry Bloom moves through his day, herding tourists across the city and waiting for his date with her, she's never encountered, and is never given room to self-establish.

Appel so perfectly captures human loneliness via this device; the meta-narrative seeks to encapsulate real Starshine, but is its heroine someone Starshine would recognize? Would she receive Larry's manuscript as a gift, read it as insightful, or is it voyeuristic and presumptuous? The reader has to guess. (Larry's own guess is reserved for the last pages of his, and Appel's, novel.)

Appel's novel is linguistically sophisticated, his characters and story both bold and self-doubting. A true treat to read.
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Reading Progress

November 26, 2013 – Started Reading
November 26, 2013 – Shelved
December 5, 2013 – Shelved as: first-reads
December 5, 2013 – Finished Reading

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