Book - 2012
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Lewis Chopik has at last graduated from Columbia University. Fleeing the pressures exerted by his ambitious professor father, and having just been dumped by his girlfriend, Lewis returns to Wichita in search of respite at the home of his New-Ager mother, Abby. But when Abby picks Lewis up from the airport, she reveals that she's starting a storm-chasing business and then passes Lewis a graduation gift of $5000 in cash, which turns out to be the proceeds of a feminist Ponzi scheme called The Birthday Party. Lewis soon learns that his mother is also indulging a polyamorous lifestyle. One of her boyfriends, a chemist and professor of 'futures studies,' lives in a tent in the yard and has a drug lab in the basement. Another unexpected obstacle to Lewis finding the respite he longs for is Seth, his charismatic yet troubling bi-polar younger brother. Seth is back home to unveil the new tattoo emblazoned on his chest that reads, 'In Loving Memory of Seth Chopik'. A story by turns comic and portentous, written in prose that is supple and precise, Wichita Explores the bonds of brotherhood and the fortunes of a family whose members hold vastly different notions about how - and why - to live. 'Flat out intelligence, lucid prose, and a stunning sense of American tragedy, make Thad Ziolkowski's Wichita a wild ride of a read and the perfect storm of a book.' Alice Sebold 'This book beautifully and often hilariously and sometimes movingly reminded me what a powerfully strange place American is . . . If Ken Kesey and Wallace Stegner and Nick Hornby had collaborated on a novel, it would be something like Wichita .' Kurt Andersen, author Heyday and Turn of the Century ' Wichita is a wise, funny, and haunting story of out time. Illuminated by Ziolkowski's particular wit and brilliance, the book gives us a sense of family as a conspiracy of improvised myths. Fasten your seatbelts- Abby, Lewis and Seth are going to take you into the eye of the storm.' Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and The Big Girls
Publisher: New York : Europa Editions, 2012.
ISBN: 9781609450700
Branch Call Number: FICTION Ziolkows 04/2012
Characteristics: 253 p. ;,21 cm.


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Jul 01, 2014

I agree that Wichita as a setting was not as strong as it could have been. However, the emotional tone of living in one of those Midwest towns, I believe, is captured.

This is more of a story of a family, focused on the narrator's relationship with each of his family members, but most importantly his brother who has bipolar disorder. I liked the narrative POV and the story he was telling well enough to read the whole book, so that's a good sign.

Small annoyances:
*overuse of the -ingly suffix to make interesting adverbs overdone. Just use stronger verbs (my bias).
*the number of typos in this book is inexcusable (and increasingly expected, these days).

Jun 04, 2013

I enjoyed the narrator, empathizing with the impotence of his actions in this situation. I'm from Wichita, and so I was interested in how he used the setting in the novel. Aside from the tornadoes, the setting wasn't a key element. His mother's house and the characters there were important, but not Wichita. And then he referred to Greensburg, my father's hometown which was utterly leveled a few years ago by a tornado, as "Greenburg" (twice), I knew that the setting was just a prop and not a meaningful element, which was disappointing. Still, I enjoyed the characters, even if they didn't get deeper under my skin.


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Jun 05, 2013

"He remembers a line from Rilke he came across online: "You are not surprised at the force of the storm - you have seen it growing"" (pg. 227).


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