A DAY AT THE BEACH by Helen Schulman

SchulmanI’ve clipped several reviews of the same book over the last few weeks, and its cover is now becoming familiar to me because of having seen it so many times: A Day at the Beach by Helen Schulman. It joins a growing class of post-9/11 novels, many set in New York, that use the tragedy of that day either overtly or as a thematic backdrop in their plots.

From Entertainment Weekly:

A 9/11 backdrop is no longer original. But using 9/11 as analogy is risky, potentially exploitative. In A Day at the Beach, an entrancing tale of 24 hours in a troubled marriage, Schulman writes about that day with journalistic detachment (doggedly matter-of-fact descriptions of brushing teeth or pouring coffee); yet she exhibits an artist’s eye for detail — likening repetitive TV news footage to the iconography of Jasper Johns, using René Magritte to illustrate a surreal burst of daylight (”it emanated from the ground instead of the sky”). As for the intriguingly ambiguous ending, the possibilities could provide material for two more novels. A-

From Blueprint: “The Steptember morning starts with such promse: Suzannah is going to take her 4-ear-old, Nikolai, to his first day of school.  Then two planes hit the World Trade Center mere blocks from their apartment… and the book follows them in her pompous choreograper husband through a tumultuous 24 hours.”

The New York Timescalls the book “finely wrought, deeply felt and mercifully funny.”

From The Washington Post: “A Day at the Beach” tackles its own concerns — the conspiracy between the oppressor and the oppressed, as well as the actual efficacy of art — with skill and intelligence. It’s a novel of ideas, in the very best sense.

Anyone read this book yet?

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