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Les altruistes av Andrew Ridker
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Les altruistes (utgåvan 2019)

av Andrew Ridker

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1248169,702 (3.31)10
A vibrant and perceptive novel about a father's plot to win back his children's inheritance Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can't afford his mortgage, he's exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won't speak to him. And then there's the money--the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children. Those children are Ethan, an anxious recluse living off his mother's money on a choice plot of Brooklyn real estate; and Maggie, a would-be do-gooder trying to fashion herself a noble life of self-imposed poverty. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation. But in doing so, he unwittingly unleashes a Pandora's box of age-old resentments and long-buried memories--memories that orbit Francine, the matriarch whose life may hold the key to keeping them together. Spanning New York, Paris, Boston, St. Louis, and a small desert outpost in Zimbabwe, The Altruists is a darkly funny (and ultimately tender) family saga in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, with shades of Philip Roth and Zadie Smith. It's a novel about money, privilege, politics, campus culture, dating, talk therapy, rural sanitation, infidelity, kink, the American beer industry, and what it means to be a good person.… (mer)
Medlem:pangee
Titel:Les altruistes
Författare:Andrew Ridker
Info:Rivages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:***1/2
Taggar:famille, rancœurs, parcours de vies

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The Altruists av Andrew Ridker

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» Se även 10 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 8 (nästa | visa alla)
This is the sort of novel destined to divide readers into camps. Ridker’s social satire is of the overt type, resulting in characters that are too ridiculous to like and situations that are too silly to generate sympathy or empathy. If you enjoy your satire spread thick, then you’ll enjoy this. If, however, you prefer your social commentary on the subtle side, or if you were hoping for a thoughtful exploration of dysfunctional familihood, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. Those blurbs promising a tale that is “big hearted” or “moving” are stretching it - fundamentally, this is a social parody in which egoism, obtuseness, privilege, passivity, neurosis, and profound hypocrisy play featured roles.

The altruists in the novel are, of course, nothing of the sort: they are, instead, absurdly self-absorbed. The pater familias, Arthur Alter, is a failed professor whose one shining accomplishment was traveling to Zimbabwe as an idealistic youth to install sanitation infrastructure – an endeavor that, predictably, goes horribly awry. Since then he’s become the opposite of an altruist: a whiny parasite of a man living off of the pity and passivity of others. The daughter, Maggie, having convinced herself that self-deprivation is the ultimate measure of character, imagines she is living a life of enlightened virtue even as she engages in increasingly outrageous acts of borishness, narcissism, and theft. The son, Ethan, is obsessed with the quioxitic fixation that his gay childhood crush is just waiting for him (Ethan) to help him accept his true sexuality. And the mater familias, Francine, is the enabler who makes it all possible – so much so that, when she dies, the whole family immediately implodes, the event that ostensibly sets the events of this novel in motion.

Don’t get me wrong: Ridkin can bring the funny. Understated passages like “The university had recently consolidated the College of Fine Arts, the Center for Media Studies, and their entrepreneurship MBA into the centralized Institute for Business Arts” made me laugh aloud. But the more exaggerated elements of the novel – Arthur’s selfishness and parsimony, Maggie’s hypocrisy, the author’s constant sniping at “political correctness” - were just a bit too crude for my tastes. Moreover, I couldn’t help wondering whether Ridkin’s purpose here was less about entertaining readers than trying to impress the hipster peers at the New Yorker or the Iowa Writer’s Workshop with his wit. ( )
  Dorritt | Feb 25, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this story of the Alter family. The writing was sharp and sarcastically funny. I didn’t think Ridker could land this puppy, but he did to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion. ( )
  Oregonpoet | Jul 12, 2019 |
Arthur Alter is in a tight spot. He took the visiting professor job at Danforth College, convinced he'd quickly be hired full-time and be given tenure. Despite moving his family across the country and derailing his wife's more successful career, he never moves into a permanent posting, instead being given fewer classes to teach over the years, so that now he's down to one. His children live far away and don't speak to him. And his wife may have had money when she died, but she left it all to the children. Maybe because Arthur coincidentally started an affair the same day Francine received her diagnosis? Arthur prefers not to think about that. He's got a bigger problem. When they first moved to St. Louis, they bought a house in keeping with Arthur's aspirations, and not his circumstances, which are that he's making a little less each year. And his girlfriend is thinking of taking a better paying job elsewhere. But Arthur can fix it all if he can get his son and daughter to come and visit. He'll convince them to give him the money they inherited from their mother. And once he has the money to pay off the mortgage, he's sure he can convince his girlfriend to turn down the new job and move in with him.

The only problem with this plan is that Arthur has once again over-estimated his powers of persuasion, his girlfriend's willingness to do what he wants and his job prospects, while under-estimating the sheer animosity his children hold for him.

Yes, this is another WMFuN*, that perennial staple of American literature. But this has some redeeming features. It's set in St. Louis and not New York City. Arthur may be the classic WMFuN protagonist, being both self-involved and oblivious to the harm he causes, but Andrew Ridker isn't asking the reader to side with Arthur, in fact he goes out of the way to clearly show the harm Arthur does. And it's well written, with a relaxed solidity to the writing that is surprising in a debut novel. No, I never warmed completely to Arthur and his equally self-involved off-spring, but no matter how I tried, I was never able to not care about what happened to them.

* White Male Fuck-up Novel ( )
1 rösta RidgewayGirl | Jun 3, 2019 |
This book reminded me of several novels I've read recently centering on the lives of professors and their disfunctional families. It put me in the mind of The Straight Man by Russo and some of Susan Choi's books. These characters were a bit more likable and some of the writing was TERRIFIC. When I realized that the author was born in 1991, I really was impressed!! He seems young to have written in such thoughtful manner. I have trouble with reading about so many academics messing up their lives SO terrifically...Nevertheless, this was a good read. I would have liked a bit more clarity at times about the narrator. ( )
  5041 | Apr 16, 2019 |
‘His kids were gone. His house was verging on foreclosure. His career was in a coffin, ignored by even the thirstiest of academic vampires.’

Meet the Alters; the father, Arthur, a failing non-tenured academic at a US college, teaching engineering rather than actually doing it; son Ethan, massively in debt and struggling to cope with life, and daughter Maggie, with no proper job, an eating disorder and a passive-aggressive personality; and Francine, their mother who died from cancer two years earlier but still remains a massive presence in everyone’s lives. This is not a happy family.

Still reeling from the fact that Francine had left all of her money, a small fortune having amassed in an investment portfolio, to his two children rather than to him (for reasons that soon become apparent) and facing the prospect of losing the family home, Arthur invites his two children to visit him so that he can ask them for help. The book moves back and forward through time, as we see Arthur and Francine’s relationship develop both before and after their marriage. This used to be a close-knit Jewish family, and there are moments of comedy throughout the book playing on stereotypes of Jewish relatives and the importance of family. Ethan and Maggie now live in New York, miles away from St Louis where Arthur had dragged the family for his job, St Louis coming to seem like a prison for everyone else. The trip back for the two becomes an opportunity for closure; Ethan tracks down Charlie, the boy with whom he had a brief fling at college but whose rejection of him has meant that he has been unable to trust anyone else since; and Maggie comes to visit the botanic garden where she had scattered her mother’s ashes after the funeral. As the book weaves its narratives, the characters become fleshed out and we learn that, actually, none of them are very likeable, but all of them are very damaged. The humour is sometimes farcical, often satirical, and the reality behind the image of the intellectual, middle-class family with two kids explodes the American dream.

There are several comic moments: Arthur’s failed attempt to help sanitary conditions in Zimbabwe ends in an outbreak of sleeping sickness; Arthur taking Ethan to a baseball game for his 10th birthday; the dating app which pairs you up by matching people with similar life traumas…. But the tone is not severe, and the satire is not biting enough to make you not care about the characters, however much you don’t actually really like them. I found myself pitying them, wanting them to find something, some closure, some peace from the family angst. Without any spoilers, whilst things don’t work out for Arthur as he would like there is, ultimately, some prospect of a light at the end of the tunnel for them all.

An enjoyable, sometimes laugh-out-loud satire of modern life in America which I did really enjoy. Andrew Ridker can write snappy prose and has a good eye for detail, and I look forward to his next book. An excellent debut from a promising writer. 4 stars.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of the book.) ( )
  Alan.M | Apr 16, 2019 |
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A vibrant and perceptive novel about a father's plot to win back his children's inheritance Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can't afford his mortgage, he's exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won't speak to him. And then there's the money--the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children. Those children are Ethan, an anxious recluse living off his mother's money on a choice plot of Brooklyn real estate; and Maggie, a would-be do-gooder trying to fashion herself a noble life of self-imposed poverty. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation. But in doing so, he unwittingly unleashes a Pandora's box of age-old resentments and long-buried memories--memories that orbit Francine, the matriarch whose life may hold the key to keeping them together. Spanning New York, Paris, Boston, St. Louis, and a small desert outpost in Zimbabwe, The Altruists is a darkly funny (and ultimately tender) family saga in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, with shades of Philip Roth and Zadie Smith. It's a novel about money, privilege, politics, campus culture, dating, talk therapy, rural sanitation, infidelity, kink, the American beer industry, and what it means to be a good person.

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