Synopses & Reviews
Having introduced an unprecedented realism to American television through his work as a writer and producer on Hill Street Blueswork which earned him two Emmys and a Writers' Guild AwardJeffrey Lewis's rich and complex relationship with American culture, upon which his writing has drawn deeply, required a new kind of telling. In an ambitious departure, Lewis conceived a series of four novels, each of which would follow the leaders of American culture through a decade of their lives. In so doing it would trace the very substance of America's contemporary history through its unfolding. The series is a sweeping meditation on his generation and where it has led America, from the sixties to the turn of the century.
For the first time the four interlinking novelsMeritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the Kingare published in a single volume. Set over four decades against the backdrop of changing American landscape, Lewis's characters sweep in and out of the narrative, reflecting the passage of time and the rise of different social-cultural ideals and influences. The four novels are a testament to America's changing personality, each seeking to define it for itself. For America is the central character and the quartet is the song of one generation passing through it, from the tragedy of wealth and potential to the search for meaning in a chaotic world and the highs and lows of celebrity. Each book is a life and a death, each a new start and a finality. The Meritocracy Quartet is a breathtaking panorama and an expression of how and why, but more than this, it is a story beautifully told.
"Looks at the generation that came of age in the Sixties; the first two titles covered the 1960s and 1970s. . . . His opening chapter, in which his marvelous ear for idiomatic speech is revealed as much through narration as in dialog, hints at the concepts he will explore: the vagaries of love, the odd consorting of dignity and temptation, and, yes, the fragility of creation and existence...That fine ear of Lewis's . . . makes his prose style the book's strength."
“Lewis catches the thrill of proximity to America's Eastern WASP aristocracy to an uncomfortable degree: their studied vagueness, their heartiness, the aloofness that cannot be copied.”
“Shot through with high intelligence and deep feeling, the novel perfectly balances its several tones—lyrical, ironic, and sweet, against the foreboding gravity of the Viet-Nam War. A book that delivers both intellectually and emotionally, Meritocracy is a wise and moving debut.”
"Meritocracy is a dramatic, riveting novel of our times."
“Lives are not seamlessly sewn together, but rather forged by coincidence, necessity, and expectation, a fact that Lewis brilliantly conveys. . . . Lewis’ memories portray a modern, American life.”
“You start with these characters, and through them you tell a social history of the country. . . . I really can't recommend [The Meritocracy Quartet
] highly enough.”
“Pitch-perfect. . . . Quirky, rueful, and wise.”
“Lewis is a master of the subtle interplay of coincidence and character, the light tripping of events that lead to a disaster that seems at once inevitable and yet shocking.”
“A powerful and really striking portrait of the inner and outer lives of the cultural elite of this generation. Lewis is a wonderful writer. . . . As a true novelist, transforming the lived experience to find its meanings, both for himself and for his readers, Lewis becomes an alchemist of the soul, his words then, taking us to places far beyond. . . . A deeply rewarding experience.”
Meritocracy Quartet comprises Jeffrey Lewis's four interlinking novels written between 2005-08, published in a single volume for the first time.
Set against the backdrop of four decades of changing American landscape, the characters in The Meritocracy Quartet sweep in and out of this grand narrative, reflecting the passage of time and the rise of different social and cultural ideals. The four novels are a testament to Americas changing personality - each seeking to define it for themselves. For America is the central character, the panorama against which the characters play out their lives.
Acclaimed writer Jeffrey Lewis is known for his deft portrayals of relatable figures from all walks of life. In The Meritocracy Quartet
, his four interlinking novelsMeritocracy: A Love Story
, The Conference of the Birds
, Theme Song for an Old Show
, and Adam the King
have been brought together for the first time into a single volume. Set against the backdrop of the changing American landscape over four decades, The Meritocracy Quartet
is a testament to the countrys evolving personality.
The quartet follows Louie, a Yale graduate from a modest background with a gift for forging connections in high and low places. Beginning in the 1960s, as he documents a going-away party for a fellow Yalie on his way to Vietnam, and continuing through his spiritual encounters with a 1970s group of city misfits, his turn to television writing in the 1980s, and a tragic love story between two of his close friends in the 1990s, Louie chronicles not only his own personal struggleshis silent love for his best friends girl, his delicate relationship with an at-times absent fatherbut also the attitudes, events, and people that marked his generation. From the Vietnam War to George W. Bush, from television trends to the divide between the haves and have-nots, The Meritocracy Quartet is a moving witness to everything America had to offer in the latter portion of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Jeffrey Lewis has won numerous awards for his novels, including the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. Besides The Meritocracy Quartet, he is the author of the novels Berlin Cantata and The Inquisitor's Diary. He has also received two Emmys and the Writers Guild Award for his work as a writer and producer on Hill Street Blues. Lewis lives in Los Angeles and Castine, Maine.