City on Fire

 

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Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel weighs in at a doorstopping 902 pages. But it’s one of the quickest 900 pages you’ll ever read.

Set mainly in 70’s New York during the advent of punk and flashing forward and backward in time it is an evocative piece of work which manages to make the seedy rundown Manhattan of that era seem positively desirable in comparison with rather anodyne NYC we now live in

The plot hinges around a murder of a beautiful young fanzine writer in Central Park and brings in crazed punk anarchists, super rich property tycoons, firework manufacturers, cops and investigative journalists. Somehow it manages to mix them into a compelling page turner.

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Apparently he was paid a 2 million dollar advance for this book, which has made him the target of a few snide comments and a twitter campaign which highlighted some of the less beautiful lines of the book (as if any writer is incapable of writing a bad sentence) but don’t listen to that crap. This is highly ambitious if flawed debut that is harbinger of greater things to come.

 

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