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"While other writers show us the sordid results of suburbia's humid containment (i.e. adulterers, pedophiles, witches, robot wives), Amidon generates heart-thumping suspense from the crises of ordinary people trying to earn a living and take care of their children. Indeed, it's the awful plausibility of the plot that make this story so tense and involving." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
It's the spring of 2001, and Drew Hagel has spent the last decade watching things slip away — his first marriage, his real estate brokerage, his beloved daughter, Shannon, now a distant and mysterious high school senior. He is in danger of losing his place in the affluent suburb that his father once ruled. And then an unexpected friendship with Quint Manning, the manager of a secretive hedge fund, opens to Drew the prospect of vast, frictionless wealth. What Drew doesn't know is that Manning has problems of his own — his Midas touch is abandoning him; his restless wife, Carrie, is growing disillusioned with all that new money; and his hard-drinking son, Jamie, Shannon's classmate, is careering out of control.
As the fortunes of the two families become perilously interwoven, a terrible accident involving Shannon and Jamie gives Drew the leverage he needs to stay in the game. But his decision to speculate with human lives instead of money has unforeseen consequences and brings the novel to a devastating climax.
Human Capital is the highest achievement to date of a "powerful and perceptive" novelist (The Washington Post) and a realist for our times.
"Tensions, lies and hypocrisy lurk beneath the cool exteriors of Totten Crossing, Conn., in this fine new novel of suburbia from Amidon (The New City; Subdivision). In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, fading real estate broker Drew Hagel sinks all his money into a hedge fund that goes bust. Meanwhile, his second wife, psychologist Ronnie, is pregnant with twins, and his teenage daughter, Shannon, is experiencing first love with Ian, one of Ronnie's young patients, whose mother died of cancer when he was 14, leaving him a large sum of insurance money that he will inherit when he turns 18. Ian's uncle, David, a decent man with few prospects, plans on using the inheritance to fulfill his dream of owning a bar in North Carolina. Finally, Carrie Manning has grown restless and uncomfortable with her broker husband's wealth and embarks on a brief affair. All these lives collide on one fateful night when Ian accidentally strikes and kills a bicyclist while driving home from an end-of-year high school party; the vehicle belongs to Jamie, Carrie's hard-drinking teenage son. It all sounds a bit like Peyton Place, but Amidon's intentions are far more serious. Writing with a sociologist's insight, he crafts a sharp page-turner mined with moments of dark satire. Amidon's previous novels had moments of profundity, but this exceptional novel delves deeper and more passionately into the fractured lives of people whose lives revolve around money. Its impact lingers long after the final credits roll. Agent, Henry Dunow. (Oct.) Forecast: A blurb from Tom Perrotta (Little Children) should attract the right readers and help raise Amidon's profile. Booksellers can recommend the novel to fans of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, too." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. Amidon proves himself a nimble storyteller, providing the reader with a solid, literate and consistently compelling tale." Michiko Katutani, The New York Times
"In this smart, fast-moving novel, Stephen Amidon serves up suburbia on a platter, sliced and diced into bits and pieces...[T]errific." The Washington Post
"Richly complex and genuinely tragic, painfully cognizant of the lethal interaction among human weakness, skewed societal values, and the random blows of fate." Kirkus Reviews
"A gripping, troubling, and incisive portrait of the way we live now, Human Capital has the ambitious sweep and narrative power of a 19th century novel. Stephen Amidon is the rare writer who can illuminate the secrets of money and love with equal authority." Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and Joe College
As the fortunes of two crumbling families become perilously interwoven, a terrible accident leads one of the patriarchs to begin speculating with human lives instead of money. The unforeseen consequences bring the novel to a devastating climax.
Its the spring of 2001. Drew Hagel has spent the last decade watching things slip away—his marriage, his real estate brokerage, and his beloved daughter, Shannon, now a distant and mysterious high school senior. But as summer approaches, Drew forms an unexpected friendship with Quint Manning, the manager of a secretive hedge fund. Drew sees the friendship leading to vast, frictionless wealth, but Drew doesnt know that Manning has problems of his own: his Midas touch is abandoning him, his restless wife has grown disillusioned, and his hard-drinking son is careening out of control.
As the fortunes of the Hagels and the Mannings collide, a terrible accident gives Drew the leverage he needs to stay in the game. At once brilliantly observed and masterfully paced, Human Capital “deftly slices open the rich, corrupt heart of suburban America and lets its dark secrets bleed out” (Elle).
About the Author
Stephen Amidon's previous books include The New City and Subdivision. He lived and worked in London for fifteen years before returning to the United States, where he lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts, with his wife and children
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