» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Louis Auchincloss
Manhattan Monologues: Stories
Houghton Mifflin

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

October 10, 2002
Louis Auchincloss is an old-world fellow, you might say, and Manhattan Monologues is his finest hour as an author. Centering about the aristocracy of New York's social circles, celebrated penman Auchincloss (who is the president of the Academy of Arts and Letters) gives us a fictional account of the children of privilege from America's golden era, when the distinction between old and new money wasn't so dubious. A collection of 10 previously unpublished stories, Manhattan Monologues is Auchincloss' 57th book, divided into three sections that chronicle the Big Apple's bourgeoisie from the heyday of Theodore Roosevelt (who's biography Auchincloss penned earlier this year) to the not-so-distant past. The geographic theme of New York is not the only thread tying the 10 works together, however, as there are underlying themes of homosexuality that pop up (in the opening selection particularly) and the continual presence of Roosevelt through second-hand appearances and recurring themes of military service and a man's obligation to it.

Formal and debonair, Manhattan Monologues is a bit dull at times, but Auchincloss' addiction to obsolete vernacular never completely derails his stories. They all contain bits of the same revolving themes but in different amounts, many of them focusing intently on pedigree and dowries but never from the same perspective. Stodgy old men and bird-like old women sip gin from priceless crystal while marriages are arranged, fortunes are squandered, heirlooms bought, sold, lost and stolen. Family secrets are filtered through the coarse grains of Long Island beaches and soaked up by the worn mahogany of so many brownstone dens and libraries. Children are sent off to boarding schools, Nazi-era expatriates betray the French Resistance and retain their dignity all in a matter of pages, young men battle the inevitable disappointment of over-achieving fathers, and young women agonize silently in prim properness over the prenuptial conflict of true love versus family stability.

When J.D. Salinger sent Holden Caulfield coursing through the veins of New York City, dysfunctional and disenchanted, it was the characters of Auchincloss' Manhattan Monologues that made residence in the penthouse suites overlooking the park and the townhouses on the Upper East Side. Like Salinger, albeit with more of noble pen and scholarly air, Auchincloss draws out battle lines for the vagaries of human nature to but heads with the traditions of a musty upper class, daintily uncoiling even the stuffiest of characters, sipping a martini all the while.


Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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