If by 1970 I had started to slip, it wasn’t by much. To make more of the decline would be easy: exaggeration resonates in candor. My income had fallen, though not to any depth. That would have required a spectacular reversal, and, contrary impulses notwithstanding, I seem to avoid spectacular actions of any kind. . . .
So begins The Arriviste, a work of “slow-burn noir” (Washington Post) in which Neil Fox laments the suburbanization of his Long Island Arcadia though he himself plays a hand in the process. As a young man, Neil made a healthy living on heads-I-win-tails-you-lose venture capital deals. Now, years later, that cunning has calcified into a principled isolation, which Neil hopes to preserve even as a new neighbor, Bud Younger, builds his home on a lot that Neil himself once owned. But when Neil’s wife moves out, Bud draws Neil in with his solicitude. A bottle and a ride in an Alfa Romeo later, they have an offshore business partnership and a woman between them—to Neil’s dismay and also, possibly, to his advantage.
Tracing one man’s longing for his own estate against a nation’s obsession with wealth’s ephemeral security, The Arriviste is a gripping and timeless tale of influence, power, and isolation.
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Praise and Prizes
“James Wallenstein is amazingly good at conveying all that matters in a look, a remark, an exchange. He is inspired at conjuring states, from jet lag to passion; at capturing characters in an instant. . . . Wallenstein’s prodigious talent, like his narrator, belongs to another time.”
“James Wallenstein’s gripping first novel has the muscular grace of an expert tennis player or strong swimmer—figures with deep resonance in this nuanced tale of miserliness and ambition, emotional bankruptcy and betrayal. . . . The velocity, artistry, insights, and pleasures of Wallenstein’s riptide portrait . . . are prodigious.”
“James Wallenstein—The Arriviste is his first novel—captivated a reader who would have expected to find little joy in watching two suits play tug-of-war.”
“A beautifully written story about all of the many different reasons we need love and are terrified to lose it. A terrific debut novel.”
“The protagonist and narrator is that guy, the one you’ve probably thought of a thousand times lately while muttering the words ‘the economy’ with a woeful, bewildered look on your face. He’s the bastard whose fault it probably is, and the amazing thing about this book is the profound sympathy you feel for him on almost every page. He observes the world acutely, he has vigorous and striking thoughts, he yearns: this guy has a soul, to which this antic and elegiac, beautifully written novel bears unforgettable witness.”