On an unseasonably warm spring afternoon, a young neo-Nazi named Vincent
Nolan walks into the Manhattan office of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights
foundation headed by a charismatic Holocaust survivor, Meyer Maslow. Vincent
announces that he wants to make a radical change in his life. But what is Maslow
to make of this rough-looking stranger who claims to have read Maslow's books,
who has Waffen-SS tattoos under his shirtsleeves, and who says that his mission
is to save guys like him from becoming guys like him?
As he gradually turns into the sort of person who might actually be able to do that, Vincent also transforms those around him: Maslow, who fears that heroism has become a desk job; Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's fund-raiser, a divorced single mother and a devoted believer in Maslow's crusade against intolerance and injustice; and Bonnie's teenage son, Danny, whose take on the world around him is at once openhearted, sharp-eyed, and as fundamentally decent as his mother's.
Masterfully plotted, darkly comic, A Changed Man illuminates the everyday transactions in our lives, exposing what remains invisible in plain sight in our drug-addled and media-driven culture. Remarkable for the author's tender sympathy for her characters, A Changed Man poses the essential questions: What constitutes a life worth living? Is it possible to change? What does it mean to be a moral human being? The fearless intelligence, wit, and humanity that inform this novel make it Francine Prose's most accomplished yet.
Nolan pulls into the parking garage, braced for the Rican
attendant with the cojones big enough to make a point of wondering what
this rusted hunk of Chevy pickup junk is doing in Jag-u-ar City. But the
ticket-spitting machine doesn't much care what Nolan's driving. It lifts its
arm, like a benediction, like the hand of God dividing the Red Sea. Nolan passes
a dozen empty spots and drives up to the top level, where he turns in beside a
dusty van that hasn't been anywhere lately. He grabs his duffel bag, jumps out,
inhales, filling his lungs with damp cement-y air. So far, so good, he likes the
garage. He wishes he could stay here. He finds the stairwell where he would hide
were he planning a mugging, corkscrews down five flights of stairs, and plunges
into the honking inferno of midafternoon Times Square.
He's never seen it this bad. A giant mosh pit with cars. Just walking demands concentration, like driving in heavy traffic. He remembers the ...
If you think you'd enjoy a 'comedy of manners' which fairly gently skewers the middle-classes then this might be one for you; but if you're anticipating a book that digs deep you might be disappointed.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (506 words).
Francine Prose is the author of about 20 books, including Blue Angel
(2000) which was a finalist for the National Book Award; she is considered one of
America's sharpest cultural satirists. She says "I really do love my
find them guilty of anything that I'm not guilty of myself."
She says she was inspired to write A Changed Man after seeing two skinheads on the New York subway, all dressed up with jackboots and shaved heads, but looking terrified - it was clear to her that they were out of their element, which made her curious about what kind of people they were. Later she saw a middle-aged man with hair growing over his tattoos, one of which looked like a swastika and she thought 'this is...
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