Trenton Makes Epub Ò Hardcover

Trenton Makes A vivid brutal razor sharp debut about a woman who carves out her share of the American Dream by living as a man1946 At the apogee of the American Century the confidence inspired by victory in World War II has spawned a culture of suffocating conformity in thrall to the cult of masculine privilegeIn the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton New Jersey a woman made strong by wartime factory work kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl disposes of his body and assumes his identity As Abe Kunstler he secures a job in a wire rope factory buys a car and successfully woos Inez an alcoholic dime dancer He makes a home with her but for Abe this is not enough to complete his transformation he needs a son1971 A very different war is under way The certainties of mid century triumphalism are a distant bitter memory and Trenton's heyday as a factory town is long past As the sign on the famous bridge says Trenton Makes the World TakesThe family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse Desperate to hold on to what he has left Abe searches for solutions in the dying cityWritten in brilliantly stylized prose this gripping narrative is a provocative and incisive exploration of the nature of identity and a disturbing portrait of desperation Tadzio Koelb has crafted a slim gut shot of a novel that heralds the arrival of a writer of startling talent and imagination


10 thoughts on “Trenton Makes

  1. Janelle Janson Janelle Janson says:

    Thank you so much to Doubleday Books for providing my copy of TRENTON MAKES by Tadzio Koelb all opinions are my ownDuring post World War II a woman factory worker accidentally kills her abusive husband during a domestic fight and then assumes his identity Abe Kunstler Abe moves out of town finds a new job at a factory and settles down with a woman named Inez After so much time Abe believes he needs a family to blend in Jump to the second part of the book in 1971 where Abe has a son Art who might have figured out his secret Abe is desperate to keep his secret and his life intactTRENTON MAKES is a very well written and complex novel This book may not be for everyone as there are triggers such as abuse and sexual assault so proceed with caution The writing style is sophisticated uniue and might be difficult to follow as there as some parts written in a stream of consciousness style The prose is beautiful and the flashback scenes read like poetry I am blown away by how well Koelb writes Abe’s character and the constant inner conflict between who he once was and who he has become The novel’s central themes are identity gender and social class It is difficult to get completely invested in the protagonist as the novel is very short but overall this is an impressive piece of literature


  2. Bandit Bandit says:

    This sounded very interesting A woman living her life as a man in a post war uber masculine American culture of the 1940s and then a 25 year jump in time to revisit the same person in different circumstances and era The book itself though didn't uite work for me The narrative while visceral and vivid managed to maintain a sort of aloofness Mainly though I just didn't care for any of the characters including the protagonist and with this sort of book you kind of really have to because it's a personal journey sort of a story Maybe this was meant to reflect on the gender and cultural limitations of the blue collar workers in a small town but usually such stories of personal reinvention are daring audacious exciting And here the main character recreates herself as a factory worker named Abe who proceeds to pour copious amounts of alcohol on his muted rage and frustrations So essentially the reader follows a story of a charmless unpleasant drunk who isn't comfortable in his life and makes sure no one in his ersatz family is either The character seems to not lack merely redeeming ualities but also almost any dimensionality It's just a one note self loathing descent into a drunken stupor of an existence uick enough of a reading some good descriptive writing but the story doesn't do the premise justice Thanks Netgalley


  3. Magen Magen says:

    Trigger warnings view spoilerracist and offensive language violence alcoholism domestic abuse non consenual sex rape mentions of sexual abuse and murder hide spoiler


  4. Kristen Kristen says:

    Spoilers belowA woman in post WWII Trenton NJ accidentally kills her abusive husband disposes of his body and takes his identity She can do this because he was apparently pretty small and she had worked in a factory during the war making wire rope and was strapping like Rosie the Riveter She took on his identity as Abe Kunstler moved to another part of town went through a string of various odd jobs and eventually is able to get work at another factory making wire rope as he had done during the war Abe has it pretty good until he decides that in order for his ruse to be complete he needs a wife and child He meets Inez an alcoholic taxi dancer and woos her away from her job at her dance hall They marry and start to build a life together  In time Abe takes steps to start a family After one on the page attempt to get Inez pregnant the narrative then jumps ahead about 25 years to 1971 Trying for a family apparently worked because Abe has a son Art who has possibly figured out Abe’s secret Now Abe is determined to hold together everything he has struggled so hard to create OK I want to start by saying this really was a well written book and there are a lot of good things about it But it has a really odd writing style It’s something between 3rd person and 1st person The book was barely 200 pp but it was like 400 by the time I read and reread everything I didn’t get or misunderstood because of the weird writing style You do get used to it after a while but it’s kind of exhausting until then I like books that challenge me and make me think but this goes beyond that There were obvious issues of gender roles and identity that came into play as well Honestly I really don’t know much about women who took on male identities in post war society I tried to do some basic research but all I could turn up was stuff I already knew about how women who had filled men’s roles during the war felt disenfranchised after it ended and they all came back and made them go back to being wives and mothers Like duh One part of this is that throughout the novel the woman Abe was before had no identity of her own She was never referred to by her given name Whatever identity she had was totally overwritten by Abe’s right from the start Of course she would want to have Abe’ identity take over hers eventually after her intentional transformation but even prior to that she had no identity Additionally I thought it was weird that NO ONE seems to have missed Inez once she married Abe and moved to another part of town leaving behind everything from her former life The book indicated she didn’t have any family but she still had friends If one of my friends just disappeared and I never heard from her again I would call the cops I don’t understand why no one did this for Inez It begs the uestion of whether anyone would have noticed if it had been Abe who had gone missing Would someone have noticed if it had been a man who went missing instead of a woman? Was this a common ish thing that happened women just disappearing because they took a man’s ID and no one went looking to see what happened to them? In Civil War days I could see that but I have a hard time with it in the 1940s1950s Maybe I misunderstand how it happened but since there wasn’t an author’s note in the ARC I had to expand upon this I’m assuming it probably wasn’t as likely to happen as described hereAlso there’s a BIG uestion of consent It isn’t a thing that’s repeated than once in the book but the way Abe and Inez conceive their child is just gross Spoiler alert but a shitfaced Inez basically gets raped and a shitfaced random dude from a bar rapes her at Abe’s urging No one in that relationship has any ability to give lucid consent not Inez nor the man Abe  tricked Why? Why was that necessary to include? They could have been one of many childless couples It would have prevented a lot of problems and the novel could still have focused on Abe’s struggle to live without being discovered I don't know just that one brief scene really turned me off on the whole rest of the book For all the issues I had with this I do think it would be an interesting book club selection because there are a ton of things to discuss I didn't touch on the issues of alcoholism mental illness how society treats disfigured people how society treats veterans or LGBT issues


  5. Brooke Brooke says:

    At the center of Trenton Makes is a woman made strong by factory work during World War II who kills her abusive army veteran husband and assumes his identity As Abe Kunstler he secures a job in a wire rope factory makes a home with a woman named Inez and completes his transformation by creating a son Tadzio Koelb's novel brilliantly evades traditional ways of drawing readers into a story and forces us to engage with the ideas that propel it ideas about power desperation identity creation and destruction Through its main character it renders societal shifts after World War II and in the early 70s bodily sensual sexual It explores the death of traditional masculinity and the possibilities and limitations of what can be built for oneself in nature's clearings against the grain of an oppressive society Readers are closest to Abe whose internal conflicts are brilliantly rendered in italicized passages that echo the stream of consciousness flashbacks narrating Joe Christmas' early life in Light in August Here it is possible to be both repulsed by the violence that Abe enacts to preserve his identity and to understand the desperation that drives him Trapped in the straight jacket of masculine conformity Abe denies himself any peace or genuine connection These passages convey the liminal aspects of identity between the woman and the man she's constructed and it's here that the characterization and the ideas that fuel the novel are seamlessly melded Other characters—Inez their son Art Abe's friend Jacks etc—are rendered somewhat impressionistically and we are reminded that from Abe's perspective they are all his creation It's no coincidence that his son is named Art You can see Koelb's background as a painter not only in the way he describes characters but in the impressionistic strokes with which he paints a scene After she murders her husband the woman dreams she finds the dismantled parts of her husband in a clearing of trees near the war front She set about to reassemble him but before the parts could be united the dream was broken its beauty gone and she was awake again with across the room from her the empty broken flatness of his inanimate shell the dark incisions of his eyes floating across his face Koelb's prose is stylized and many of his sentences beautifully contain the novel's motifs The transference of power of kind to overthrow him even in his failure had not been her place until the man her husband presented it to her and she accepted found it not just open but demanding an emptiness wishing and whimpering to be filled Koelb writes This idea is threaded throughout the novel and beautifully embodied in the transfer of power at its culmination The ending is stunning an echo and extension of the paradox of violence being the only intimacy that Abe can offer of realizing one's most powerful self in the moment of relinuishing that self Trenton Makes is utterly original and utterly itself and absolutely deserving of readers' attention


  6. Ben Ben says:

    To call the writing in this book beautiful would somehow not fit but it is Also as for a review or recommendation to tell you anything is to ruin the thing Come for the post WWII gender fuckery stay for the sweet sweaty tension


  7. Robin Robin says:

    I'm sorry but that was terrible


  8. Marshal (thebookishhowler) Marshal (thebookishhowler) says:

    RTCActual rating 375 ✨


  9. Kassandra Kassandra says:

    I received this eARC from Doubleday books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewTadzio Koelb’s writing style is uniue I actually had to re read the first few pages and it took me about 20% of the way through to fully adjust to his style I’m going to tell you all now that this book won’t be for everyone Initially I was struggling to get into this story I didn’t get fully immersed until the second half of this book This is not a light read It’s a uick read but this book contains many triggers ie domestic abuse rape alcoholism Despite the heavy content Koelb’s words are beautiful you’ll understand what I mean if you read it The ending was vague and it left me with uestions than answers Overall I enjoyed this book because of its complexity and uniueness


  10. Deanne Deanne says:

    This is definitely literary fiction It is not something for readers who are looking for entertainment or escape The story presents a brutal look at all sorts of difficult themes Every character is messed up in various degrees This book would be excellent to dissect in a graduate school lit class or a serious book club It reminds me of Hemingway in topics and loathsome characters However the writing is much flowy and almost pretty in spots People have complained that the story is vague and choppy and hard to follow but I think that is part of the artistic endeavor The way the story is told gives the reader the same sense of unease and dissatisfaction that the characters seem to be feeling in their lives I did not like this story But I respect the skill and effort that clearly went into its creation


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