My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Our protagonist, M, is an ancient sorcerer of unimaginable power. M is also a Brooklyn slacker/hipster, with no particular concrete goals. He’s in with The Management, and things tend to go his way and fall into his lap. Most of the time. Not all of the time. Because among the secret societies and hierarchies of magical New York City, not all is always peaches and cream, or craft beer and sex with models.
I ended up really enjoying this roughly-chronological set of linked short stories. I had a few reservations: I’m really not a Brooklyn hipster and don’t want to be, and there were more than a few moments where I felt like “M” was the wish-fulfillment version of the author, and all the supporting characters were probably based on his friends, and it got just a bit too precious. There were also a few bits where I had to say, “no, you got that bit wrong.” (If you walk through Brooklyn toward the Verrazano Bridge, you hit fancier neighborhoods, not more dilapidated ones.) But those moments were outweighed by the reminders of how it felt to be new to New York City and the sense of potential, of discovery, of not knowing what was ten blocks that way or outside the next subway stop. It’s also really very funny in many places – and more often than not, it gets NYC right.
I do have to say though, this city has been my home for about 25 years now, and I think a lot of my enjoyment rested on that sense of recognition. It’s hard for me to say how it would hold up for readers who weren’t familiar with the city. (On the other hand, if you ARE a Brooklyn hipster, this is one you really truly should not miss.) But, just for myself, I liked it, and much more than the previous piece I read by Polansky. Will definitely give him another try after this one!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Regan Arts for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.