Every graduate of Harvard knows the drill: once every five years, they are asked to submit a short essay highlighting their latest career and personal accomplishments. These essays are then collected and published in a red-covered book, known as the Red Book, the mere sight of which causes most alumni to drop whatever it is they are doing to pore through the stories of personal triumphs and failures, tragedies marring otherwise successful lives, and humor and hope even in the midst of despair. How these graduates reply when the alumni office comes calling (including whether or not they reply or write their essays) reveals a great deal, but the actual human beings behind those 3-5 paragraphs come to light only during reunion weekend.
In The Red Book, her touching, provocative, whip-smart romp of a novel where The Big Chill meets Mary McCarthy's The Group, Kogan begins with the Red Book entries for a group of roommates from the class of 1989 who are all headed for their 20th reunion weekend just as the financial and professional walls are crumbling around them: a self-made, childless securities broker, recently pink-slipped, eager to conceive a baby before her fertility window closes; a blue-blood "artist" and former lesbian, married to a writer's-blocked male novelist, living disingenuously and beyond their means off a no-longer-viable trust fund; a former actress, the star of every school production, who has become the stay-at-home wife to a famous Hollywood director; the adopted war orphan, now a foreign correspondent clinging to her dying industry, whose war journalist husband has recently been killed.
These characters load up on the Red Book entries, each of which precedes the chapters in which old friends and acquaintances first appear, then bring their families, their histories, their successes, their failures, their questions, and their desires to a relationship-altering, score-settling, and completely unforgettable reunion weekend.
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"Starred Review. What starts out feeling like a marketing-driven 'women's' book - the perfect read for a mani-pedi - turns out to be a smart, funny, engrossing, and action-packed meditation on women's lives, growing up, having and not having it all, class and the expectations that come with having gone to Harvard, love lost and found, infidelity and sexuality, and finally, loss and lying, especially to yourself." - Publishers Weekly
"Kogan has crafted a cast of characters who are relevant, authentic, and very human. A worthy, witty, and engrossing addition to the canon of reunion fiction occupied by Mary McCarthy's The Group, Elizabeth Berg's The Last Time I Saw You, and Tim O'Brien's July, July." - Library Journal
"An unforgettable class reunion Fans of Mary McCarthy's The Group will be drawn to these women (and the men who come in and out of their lives) as they struggle with their identities in their respective professional and personal fields." - BookPage
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Deborah Copaken Kogan is the author of Between Here and April, a novel, and Shutterbabe, the bestselling memoir and soon-to-be TV series on the Sundance Channel about her years as a war photographer. Her photographs have been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L'Express, Libération and Géo, among many other international newspapers and magazines. Her six years as a TV producer, first for ABC News, then Dateline NBC, garnered her an Emmy, and she shot a documentary on post-9/11 Pakistan for CNN. A monthly columnist for the Financial Times, she has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Elle, O: The Oprah Magazine, More, Slate, and Paris Match, among others. She has performed live on stage with The Moth, Afterbirth, and Smith Magazine's Six Word Memoir series. She lives in Harlem, NY, with her husband and three children. Visit her online at www.deborahcopakenkogan.com.
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