Meet contemporary fiction’s latest anti-hero, an out of shape 20-something suburban druggie, mooching off his divorced parents who has never worked a day in his life and really has no plans to as long as he can live in his mom’s basement and count on dad’s money to buy more pot.
Flatscreen’s Eli Schwartz is the a latest character to take that well-trodden path in coming-of-age fiction, but thanks to Adam Wilson’s knack for writing compelling characters it’s a path worth taking again.
Wilson’s story involves Schwartz, who lives in an upper middle class Boston suburbs with his divorcee mom. His well established routine of wake and bake with ample TV and video game time is thrown into disarray when his mom put their house up for sell. It’s bought by the equally unmotivated (and future drug buddy) Seymour Kahn, a paraplegic nympho who used to be a somewhat successful TV actor. Toss in Schwartz’s overachieving brother (at least overachieving by Eli’s standards), unrequited love and the threat of being cut off from his allowance and Flatsceen is one of the most entertaining suburban-set novels to come out so far this year. It’s clearly the most funny.
As founding editor of The Faster Times, Flatscreen is Wilsons’s first novel. Here’s hoping he has plenty more with this one came from.
Flatscreen by Adam Wilson/336 pages/Harper Perennial/2012