Fiction — print. Harper Collins, 2004. 430 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.
Centered around a New York City condominium and the concierge who observes the residents from behind his gleaming desk, who is annoyingly referred to by his full name — Farro Fescu — throughout the entire novel, Rinaldi’s novel covers the lives of the people who call the city between two rivers from right before the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 until the terrorist attack in 2001.
The condominium, Echo Terrace, is a stone’s throwaway from the World Trade Center, and the novel details how integrated the lives of millions of people can be through an interweaving of characters, tracing how their day-to-day lives cross and collide.
This novel took an absorbent amount of patience for me; I could only read twenty or so pages at a time because Rinaldi’s narrative is incredibly dense. He’s heavy handed with the imagery and descriptions, which are at times beautifully poignant and at others bog down the narrative, rather than interactions between people. The characters are entwined through Echo Terrace rather than a single character except maybe for Farro Fescu, but often times he feels forced into the situation with a nod — a full name mention — of him sorting the mail. I found it hard to maintain an interest in each characters due to their occasional appearances, which was not in conjunction with the others, and the character that really pulled me into the narrative, Nora Abernooth, disappeared almost as soon as she appeared. Other characters I was interested in soon followed her lead.
Rinaldi does a fantastic job of describing the horror and confusion surrounding both attacks on the World Trade Center, but I had to force myself to get from 1993 to 2001, which was a real shame considering how much I was looking forward to reading this novel.