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Most memorable moments are the brutal emotional and verbal blows Nick and Phoebe hurl at each other. The unraveling of their marriage under the extreme pressure of the housing crisis is gut wrenching at times. Reminiscent of one of my favorite books Revolutionary Road. Phoebe ' s addiction to prescription pills is told is sharp, brilliant prose. Loved the ending.
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Before I polish my thoughts...who slipped me the hallucinogenic? [Listening to] This book feels like coming out of a drugged dream state, running barefoot over crushed glass just a half step ahead of snarling demons. Reality is a hazy scene on the other side of a veil of graffiti, smoke and flames. Is this reality somewhere? Have I just been sitting with Alex and his droogs at the Korova Milkbar ?
Carousel Court reads like a dystopian action film more than the story of a young couple trying to make it through the financial crisis of 2000/2001. Lucky Nick and Phoebe got the last ticket on the final boat to Pleasure Island, took their dreams and bet high on their sudden good fortune and the phenomenal rise of the financial climate. When the bottom falls out and the jobs dissolve, the couple is sucked down, financially trapped in the lavish dream home they built to flip.
The neighborhood is riddled with similar dreamers, foreclosure signs and looters, swimming pools choked with green slime. An armed neighbor sleeps in a tent in his yard to ward off the bank-sanctioned home invasions, keeping a raging bonfire fueled with furniture and electronic equipment; aggressive coyotes prowl the half-vacant cul-de-sacs silhouetted by the blazing California canyon fires; mothers pack loaded pink pistols; swarms of cicadas seem to have crawled out of their hibernation to witness the urban apocalypse. Helicopters flying low overhead, the whirring and chirp of cicadas, the crackling of fires, gun shots and coyote howls...the soundtrack of Carousel Court. Inside their breathless home, Phoebe spirals into a self-medicating routine of fistfuls of Klonopin gulped down with bottles of booze. It's Escape from LA -- or at least some part of the Southern California dreamscape turned nightmare. It's Eurydice and Orpheus descending into Hell.
McGinniss Jr. keeps it on a low-burn for a good portion of the book taking you through this wreckage of the American Dream at a rubbernecker's pace. The stress poisons the marriage, as you would expect. Arguments between the couple are as frequent as collection calls, escalating in toxicity and actions. But tangled in the degradation, drugs and adultery, McGinniss Jr. gives us moments of tenderness that hover just below the tension. The moments are like a life-saving breath of fresh oxygen in a toxic cloud.
Almost battered by the abuse and depravity, and the slow build up created by the author, I wondered if I could finish the book. [I've been known to toss aside a read 400 pages in with only 25 pgs. to go.] I had to go on. One of the author's father's [Joe McGinniss Sr.] students was Bret Easton Ellis, an author whose style several critics mention when reviewing McGinniss Jr. Carousel Court had that same dark surreal sense as Less Than Zero, a book I loved, but it was a painful read. You almost surrender yourself to finish -- that's the power contained in this novel. If I see 1 * reviews, I'll understand as well as I do the 5* reviews. A rough but intriguing and very original novel superbly written. I'd recommend...to a limited audience.
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