Sunday, May 26, 2013

G89 Book Review of Zinsky the Obscure by Ilan Mochari

Name of Book: Zinsky the Obscure

Author: Ilan Mochari

ISBN: 978-1-937677-11-4

Publisher: Fomite

Type of book: Growing up, New York, Peter Pan adult, relationships, family, abuse, trauma, football, literature, F Scott Fitzgerald, West Egg, life

Year it was published: 2012


Thirty-year-old Manhattan bachelor Ariel Zinsky is still recovering from his abusive childhood when he realizes no one -- including his few living relatives -- is truly interested in his narrative. While they numb themselves with the latest celebrity rehab story or the third-world atrocities replayed without ceasing on cable news, he sets out to write his autobiography as an exercise in his own self-medication, recasting himself as the hero in a coming-of-age story. Fans of A Confederacy of Dunces and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will relate to this tale of overcoming your childhood's traumas, and the world's indifference to them.


Zinsky deprecates himself too much, thus its hard for me to see anything positive about him. He is driven and ambitious as well as as football savant, but other than that, I can't think of anything positive about him at all. Either you hate Zinsky or you love him, but I doubt many would find a middle ground. There are many things I couldn't stand about him; first is his feel-sorry for me attitude, then his attitude towards growing up and procreation and the fact he seemed to be happy just being stuck in the past instead of working to move on. I would like to call him a grown up Peter Pan because he has grownup tastes rather than childish tastes. Ariel's family plays a strong role instead of a weak on, in particular his mother and her obsessive reading habits, but other than that the female characters didn't really stand out for me, and weren't explored enough.


Don't let past dictate your future


This is written in first person narrative completely from Zinsky's point of view, thus we see and experience life from Zinsky's perspective. I am surprised that Zinsky refused to go to counseling sessions and whatnot. Is there a particular he stayed away from them? Especially past Diana years? I think the book should appeal to intellectuals who care about football and some literature. While the men characters did stand out from the book, the women, not so much. I also didn't really buy the chemistry or love between Ariel Zinsky and Diana Kennedy. To me their relationship seemed rushed, and what did Diana get out of staying with Zinsky? I also thought that towards the ending the story seemed very rush and wasn't conclusive. Did Ariel finally grow up or did he remain the same even at the age of 40?

Author Information:

in Nueva York, insular city of the Manhattoes, The United States



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Literature & Fiction, Short Stories, Humor

Too many to list. I'd love to hear what YOU think.

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June 2008
Ilan Mochari's debut novel, Zinsky the Obscure, is now available on Learn more about the novel on Ilan's Zinsky blog.

Ilan’s short stories have appeared in Keyhole, Stymie, Oysters & Chocolate, and Ruthie’s Club. Another short story, “The Father I Knew,” was a finalist in a Glimmer Train competition. He has a B.A. in English from Yale. He used it to wait tables for nine years at various restaurants in the Boston area.


Perhaps its my gender, or perhaps its something more, but I am being honest in admitting that I didn't find the story hilarious. I did want to, and its obvious that the author is talented and well read and the book is very well written. But for one reason or another, I couldn't find the book hilarious. At a first glance for me, I thought the book would be well, about nothing. At a second glance, now that I have thought about it, its atypical, extremely atypical of coming of age stories. While other stories portray characters as growing up, getting married, having families and so forth, Zinsky doesn't do that. He doesn't want to grow up, doesn't want to be married or to have a family. His ideal life includes endless football entertainment, a girlfriend who wants a no strings relationship and perhaps reading. There also seemed to be some sort of war between Zinsky and the author: the author tries to get Zinsky to grow up, but Zinsky refuses to do so. Yet its ironic that despite Zinsky's reluctance into stepping up and being a grownup, grownup things do happen to him, which I won't spoil. I think one other way of looking at the story, is what happens when we let the history dictate our lives and when we can't release the past to move on to the future.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to review my book! I really appreciate it. All the best, Ilan


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