Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

Picked this up the other day after having heard decent reviews last spring when it came out in hardcover. Gessen's the editor of the literary magazine, n+1, and it seemed like a quick read, a good dive into fiction again after some heavy time with theory and philosophy and whatnot.

It didn't disappoint. I finished the last few pages Friday morning, and my heart felt hollow for the rest of the day. That heart-echo is always a reliable marker for a good read, my mainstay barometer of authentic writing.

Mark, Sam and Keith - the three main characters, Ivy-educated, too smart for their own good, living on the East Coast, working, living, loving (?) and attempting to navigate their late twenties and early thirties - are certainly the sad young literary men I've known and continue to know, in real life, that is.

Zip through it for a quick and melancholy glimpse at the more interior lives of the dudes you see kicking it with a PBR at that dive bar around the corner. And then feel the echo in your heart when the tumbleweeds blow by at the end. Disappointment, hope, resignation, fear, fondness, indifference, ambition, defeat; it's all there. I think I need a drink.

Sunday Times Book Review: All the Sad Young Literary Men (NYT)


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