We have talked with many of you about The Altruists, and about how the Gary Shteyngart quote on the front (“Super brilliant, super funny.”) is super true. We might have also said that it is super ridiculous that Andrew Ridker gets to have such a super first book with super kudos when he is super young.
In all truth, this book deserves all the hype, and Ridker deserves to bask in it. There are a lot of reasons we think you should consider coming to the event (6:00 p.m. this Thursday!) and picking up a copy. I’m going to try to stick to the top ten.
1. It really is super brilliant. No, really. The writing is careful and patient. The plot is intoxicatingly layered. The characters make you want to hug them, fix them, and smack them upside the head.
2. The cover is gorgeous. Okay, so I love dandelions. I painted a mural of one on my daughter’s wall. I have been known to make bread with the flowers and every spring the kids harvest from our lawn with delight for fried dandelions (oh my yum). The cover also holds a lot of meaning. You will know the scene when you read it, and you will adore it.
3. The book is set in St. Louis. Chances are you know these people. You have been to these places. Ridker has expertly made the setting of this novel another character. You will want to hug it, fix it, and smack it upside the head.
4. Family is complicated. This family more than many, but still. Their feelings and circles of foolish behavior will gut you and leave you thinking about someone you love . . . or want to love . . . or hope loves you.
5. It says the things that are not said. Novels have this sneaky way of saying all the things the characters are afraid to say. It is all in these pages. I have rarely read a book so good at holding everything back and putting it all out there at the same time.
6. We could all use a little introspection. There is so much subtle character analysis going on, that I guarantee you will have a moment of personal reflection at one point or another . . . and another.
7. Did I mention St. Louis? You sat on that bench once. You definitely know that frozen custard. There is a strong likelihood that some of these people are your relatives (without any of those silly flaws, of course).
8. The story centers on “Danforth” . . . which is unabashedly Wash U . . . really any University in an education obsessed town . . . okay, here.
9. Ridker knows that home is everything you love and everything you want to forget. And he doesn’t just remind you of that, he smashes that pie into your face and rubs it into your hair. You both laugh.
10. Needing is the hardest and most wonderful part of being alive. Ridker takes you through the rollercoaster of need. The want, the rejection, the failure, the success, the impossible everything of it. Then somehow, he says a few words and makes you know that your own particularly nagging need makes you who you are in such a beautiful way.
11. Okay, one more . . .
Respect people. Respect yourself. Eliminate Hate. Ridker address the toxic world we live in with the subtleness of someone who knows that the peculiar politics of today infuse every single story we now tell.