In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas--the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Read more...
In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas--the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he's the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father's past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing. As they reach for what they want, they come to understand what they must sacrifice, conceal, and betray to achieve their goals, learning they must live with the consequences of their choices. In Three-Martini Lunch, Suzanne Rindell has written both a page-turning morality tale and a captivating look at a stylish, demanding era--and a world steeped in tradition that's poised for great upheaval.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-07
- Reviewer: Staff
In Rindell's second novel (after The Other Typist), the lives of three young people intersect over literature and ambition during the height of the beatnik era in Greenwich Village. Cliff Nelson, the son of a powerful New York editor, wants to be a famous writer but spends less time writing than emulating Hemingway's drinking. Eden Katz, a transplant from Indiana who remakes herself in the style of Holly Golightly, has her sights set on being an editor at a big New York publishing house. After Eden is hired as a secretary to Cliff's father, she and Cliff secretly elope. Meanwhile, the literary ambitions of Miles Tillman, a quiet, gay, black Columbia graduate from Harlem, are repeatedly tested by personal and societal road blocks. After Miles is attacked at a party hosted by Cliff and Eden, he heads to San Francisco, where he finds his father's WWII journal. The journal—along with his relationship with the man who helped him find it—provides Miles with plenty of fodder for writing, but he becomes inexorably tangled in Cliff and Eden's struggles for literary success. With its vivid historical setting and the narrators' distinct voices, this ambitious novel is both an homage to the beatnik generation and its literature, as well as an evocative story of the price one pays for going after one's dreams. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.)
A snapshot of a bygone era in the publishing world
If you’re still mourning the end of the TV show “Mad Men,” dry those tears and turn your attention to Three-Martini Lunch. Suzanne Rindell’s cast of characters may be paying their dues in the world of 1950s book publishing rather than advertising, but it’s not all that hard to imagine them rubbing elbows with the likes of Don Draper or sharing a smoke with Peggy Olson.
A literary triptych, Three-Martini Lunch is a coming-of-age tale about three dreamers trying to break into the New York literary scene. Cliff has recently dropped out of Columbia to focus on writing a novel; Eden has moved to the city from Indiana and aspires to become an editor; and Miles is a black bicycle messenger for an elite publishing house who writes as an attempt to make peace with the father he worries he never truly knew. While pursuing their respective goals, the paths of these three characters will cross, their ambitions and fates entangling in ways none of them could foresee. Each is determined to succeed, but each must decide what they are willing to sacrifice—and whom they will sabotage—in order to do so.
Like Rindell’s bestselling debut, The Other Typist, Three-Martini Lunch is a rollicking period piece that builds to a magnificent crescendo. With an excellent ear for the patter and cadence of the time, Rindell expertly brings a bygone era to life, though the struggles of her trio feel anything but dated. While blackmail and backstabbing keep things suitably scandalous, Rindell also explores deeper issues of race, sexuality, class and gender in ways that feel vital and timely. The end result is a moving novel that proves provocative in more ways than one.