From the New York Times bestselling author Amy Sohn, one of New York City's most provocative columnists, comes a hip, contemporary novel about sex, sin, and living in the same neighborhood as your parents.
When twenty-six-year-old Rachel Block started rabbinical school, she didn't think she'd be dropping out after a semester and a half. But when a sick man dies under her counseling, she realizes she's not cut out for the rabbinate. To make ends meet, she takes a job as a bartender in her Brooklyn neighborhood--much to her parents' chagrin. It's the quintessential quarter-life crisis, compounded by the fact that she's still living just blocks from her childhood home.
Then Rachel falls in love with Hank Powell, an iconoclastic screenwriter twice her age. Suddenly she's reassessing her values, her surroundings, and everything she's ever thought about the "right" kind of relationship. Meanwhile, her interactions with her father, with whom she's always been close, have become increasingly strange. Is he distraught that she's dropped out of school? Is he having his own, midlife, crisis? Something's up...and Rachel's increasingly convinced it might be her father's libido.
With Rachel's own relationship getting wilder and weirder and her parents acting like teenagers, it seems that everyone in Cobble Hill is going crazy. A fresh spin on Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, My Old Man is a black comedy about a dysfunctional Brooklyn family coming apart at the seams.
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In My Old Man, sex columnist Amy Sohn's second novel, protagonist Rachel Block is a rabbinical school dropout who takes a bartending job in her Brooklyn neighborhood where she picks up where she left off--counseling the sick, weary, and wasted. What begins as an amusing tale of self-deprecating soul-searching rapidly turns into a series of salacious sex scandals, adulterous encounters, and the occasional book club gathering for post-menopausal mothers.
My Old Man essentially revolves around two congruent affairs, the first being Rachel's involvement with Hank Powell, a famous screenwriter old enough to be her father. The second affair actually involves Rachel's father, who is cheating on her mother with Liz, Rachel's upstairs neighbor and sex-obsessed best friend. As the novel progresses, Rachel's father strikes up a friendship with Hank, which leads to an odd doubles tennis match and a pasta lunch afterwards between this unlikely foursome. ("I didn't know which was more upsetting: that I was eating post-tennis lunch with my father, his mistress, and my fifty-one-year-old lover or that in the process my dad had discovered my penchant for being strung up to the ceiling.") However, once Rachel's mother stops folk dancing long enough to realize her husband isn't doing all those sit-ups for his health, the real drama starts and Rachel is forced to face the reality of her parents' crumbling marriage.
While Sohn's observations of single life in the city (and the boroughs) are obviously witty and often make for engaging anecdotes, readers may find it difficult to sympathize with any of her relatively pathetic characters. However, lucky for us, Sohn's voice is appealing enough to keep readers engaged for most of the novel. --Gisele TouegAbout the Author:
Amy Sohn’s novels include Prospect Park West and Motherland. Her articles have appeared in New York, Harper’s Bazaar, Playboy, and The Nation. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
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