Excerpt from The Grand Complication by Allen Kurzweil, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Grand Complication

by Allen Kurzweil

The Grand Complication by Allen Kurzweil
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2001, 360 pages
    Aug 2002, 512 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The punctuation bothered me more than the jibe. After I dashed off a reply on the back of a catalog card from my collection, for a novel called Death in Suburbia – "Wow is right!!!" I wrote – I added his offensive letter to the scraps of paper already heaped on the hallway carpeting. I kicked a path to Nic's studio and found her perched over her drafting table, bare feet hooked on the rungs of a stool.

"Pardon," she said preemptively.


Without looking up, she waved an ink-stained hand at a riot of paper, paint pots, glue brushes, and cardboard.

I lowered the sound on an Edith Piaf CD. "Who's the project for?"

"Club Med," she said unenthusiastically.

"How'll you use those?" I pointed at some photos pinned above the table: palm trees and sunsets, sandy beaches, a couple in rapturous embrace.

Nic reached for a cleverly hinged pop-up that made the palm trees sway when the brochure was opened.

"And the couple?" I asked.

She swiveled around to face me. "They will do what lovers are supposed to do, Zander – if I can get them to stay together."

My stomach rumbled. The walk home had made me hungry. "Want to hit that new Malaysian place on Broadway?"

"Pas ce soir," Nic said, turning back to her work. "Deadline."

"Then let's order in."

"But we are broken."

"The expression is ‘broke,' Nic . . . I still have some coupons for those satay skewers you like."

"No, I must work."

"Okay. Can you at least take a look at this?" I fished out Jesson's call slip. "Have you ever seen such lettering?" Before I could show her, Nic stretched out an arm and raised the volume on the CD player, effectively ending the exchange.

I retreated to the kitchen and made do with a bowl of Shredded Wheat. Irritation kicked in again when I saw the sink; it was so filled with dishes it resembled a library book drop at the end of a long weekend. And the recyclables! Their consolidation showed a total disregard for the nuances of plastic. Yet what really got me was the fridge.

Nic and I had talked through our organizational differences more than once and had, I thought, reached an understanding. The upper rack was to be reserved for tall objects, with smaller items claiming the narrow spaces below. So why did an aggressively horizontal platter of apples and nectarines now dominate the topmost shelf? True, Nic had put together a composition worthy of Cézanne, but that hardly negated the fact that we'd agreed fruit belonged in the compartment designated to hold it, namely the one marked fruit.

I told myself to let it go, which only accelerated the swirl of petty thoughts. How could a woman skilled enough to create exquisite pop-up cards and books leave a mountain of greasy dishes in the sink? How could her sense of style coexist so peaceably with a capacity for clutter? I tried to repatriate the apples and nectarines, only to find that the fruit bin had been packed with high-speed film, tarot cards, and various herbal remedies Nic's mother had sent from Toulouse. A catalog started running through my head: messiness, homeopathic medicine, sexual voracity . . .

I shifted the Cézanne one level down. As I was attempting to relocate a stick of butter – whose color, I took pleasure noting, resembled that of Jesson's yellow vest – to the dairy compartment, a clip of imported French suppositories bearing the all too evocative name Ammorectol clattered to the floor. Unable to cram the foil-wrapped bullets back behind the plastic door, I yanked open the vegetable bin. There I discovered further proof of Nic's relentless subversion of order.

From under a rotting cabbage I pulled a small package of "Big Boy Brew," the humiliating residue of her most recent effort to restore my virility. After tossing the cabbage and twigs and shoving the butter back where I'd found it, I halted the reconnaissance, determined to calm down by researching the source of Jesson's distinctive lettering.

Copyright © 2001 by Allen Kurzweil. Reprinted by permission of Hyperion.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A book may be compared to your neighbor...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

Modal popup -