Fiction Interlude: Tepper Isn't Going Out
21 November 2012
Well, I said I was probably going to re-read Tepper Isn't Going Out, when Calvin Trillin won the 2012 Thurber Prize for Humor, and I did. This marks the third or fourth time I've read this novel, and it never fails to make me smile.*
Murray Tepper is a simple man**, who asks simply to be left alone as he sits in his parked car and reads the paper. After all, he's in a legal spot and he's put money in the meter. So how does he become a magnet for the city's citizens, who start to show up wanting to discuss their problems and life in general with him? How does he become the target of the city's megalomaniac mayor? It'll only take you 213 pages to find out, and I think you'll enjoy the ride. Do give it a try; here's a quote from the first page to give you the flavor of the thing:
"Murray Tepper looked up from his newspaper to see what was happening. Tepper was sitting behind the wheel of a dark blue Chevrolet Malibu that was parked on the uptown side of Forty-third street, between Fifth and Sixth. Across the street, an argument was going on between an intense young man in a suit and the peddler who set up a stand on Forty-third Street every day to sell apples and bananas and peaches to office workers. Tepper had seen them go at it before. The young man was complaining about the price that the peddler charged for a single banana. The peddler was defending himself in an accent that Tepper couldn't place even by continent." (p. 3.)
This year I'm thankful for great paragraphs like that. And a great many other things besides, including my many friends to converse with here. Happy Thanksgiving, all.
*And also to make me hungry for New York deli food, not to mention hungry to visit New York City again in general. Although I am aware (and sad that) they are having a rough autumn in New York.
**Or is he? Read the book to find out.