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In 1996, the unnamed narrator of Teddy Wayne’s Apartment is attending the MFA writing program at Columbia on his father’s dime and living in an illegal sublet of a rent-stabilized apartment. Feeling guilty about his good fortune, he offers his spare bedroom--rent-free--to Billy, a talented, charismatic classmate from the Midwest eking out a hand-to-mouth existence in Manhattan.
The narrator’s rapport with Billy develops into the friendship he’s never had due to a lifetime of holding people at arm’s length, hovering at the periphery, feeling “fundamentally defective.” But their living arrangement, not to mention their radically different upbringings, breeds tensions neither man could predict. Interrogating the origins of our contemporary political divide and its ties to masculinity and class, Apartment is a gutting portrait of one of New York’s many lost, disconnected souls by a writer with an uncommon aptitude for embodying them.
Author: Teddy Wayne
Paperback Published late August 2021 208 pages
Originally published in hardcover March 2020
"Wayne's latest foray into the dark minds of lonely young men follows the rise and fall of a friendship between two aspiring fiction writers on opposite sides of a vast cultural divide. . . . [He] captures the nuances of this dynamic―a musky cocktail of intimacy and rage and unspoken mutual resentment―with draftsmanlike precision, and when the breaking point comes, as, of course, it does, it leaves one feeling vaguely ill, in the best way possible. A near-anthropological study of male insecurity." - Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Teddy Wayne sets his fourth novel, the darkly comic and emotionally intelligent Apartment, in 1996. Part of the historical novel’s task is to look at the past not with nostalgia but with precision, and Apartment does this exactly. Beyond period details, though, the historical novel needs to give a sense for the talk and feel of the time ― what could and couldn’t be spoken of, what could and couldn’t be imagined. And it’s in this deeper re-creation that Wayne elevates Apartment from a convincing historical facsimile to a work of art…. [he] looks at it all ― masculinity, literary ambition, our decade of free trade and liberalism triumphant ― and finds the rot underneath." - The Boston Globe