A novel on Upper East Side dysfunction
We’re calling it: Brooklyn is the current capital of the New York literary scene. Practically all you need for a book deal is a beard and a lease in the borough.
But for decades before, the written elite held court on the opposite bank--the Upper East Side. That’s where David Gilbert takes us in his new novel, & Sons, cramming his pages with boarding schools, leather-paneled libraries and generations of martini-soaked, Polo-clad family dysfunction.
It begins at the funeral of Charles Topping, where all eyes are on the eulogist, an aging Salinger-esque writer named A.N. Dyer. A lifelong friend of Topping, the distraught Dyer realizes how much he’s neglected while building his career. Before it’s too late, he gathers his three wayward sons for a rather loaded reunion.
Sure, family drama is nothing new. But the twist here lies in the perspective: & Sons is narrated not by any of the Dyers but rather by Topping’s son, Philip. Even though he’s a close friend, we find he isn’t always the most reliable source.
We can’t help but think of & Sons as the literary love child of Edith Wharton and Vladimir Nabokov: schooled at Dalton and running among the Upper East Side society set. And, man, this kid’s got some tricks up his perfectly pressed sleeve.