A landmarked midtown Manhattan address. Carnegie Hall and Central Park at your feet. Three hundred units. Thirty-two full-time employees. Five hundred neighbors. You’ve hit the big time. Joined the elite. But what do you know about them, the neighbors? Have you ever met them? Really engaged with them? Or do you gaze down in the elevator, the same way you do on the subway and the street?
Oh sure, you’ve heard a famous writer lives on the fourteenth floor, a retired US senator on the eighteenth. You’ve witnessed so many Broadway impresarios glide through the lobby you’ve lost count. But what about your real neighbors – the couple in 7H, for instance, or the family in 8B? Did you know they once harbored the most wanted fugitive in America?
No? It was in the papers for weeks; nearly tore the co-op apart. Even that famous writer on fourteen got involved. And all because an M7 bus side-swiped a resident-shareholder while turning down Seventh Avenue.
You’re busy? Oh, I’m sorry. Just thought you should know something about the co-op’s history. And buy more insurance, lots more; I’ve got a friend named Stanley.
The primary conflict for many of these characters is between being ethical and being rich. Other pressures also intrude, including immigrants’ fear of deportation and residents chafing under stringent co-op rules. Through these portraits, Finegan provides scathing commentary on biased conservative news, the financial crisis, performance-enhancing drugs, white privilege and racism, government subterfuge, and the brutality of cancer treatments.
Finegan explores how city dwellers are connected to and influenced by those in their orbit. A people watcher, he demonstrates a careful eye for the details of urban life and human relationships. He is also a master of the slow reveal. At first, the profusion of minute details about his characters’ lives feels gratuitous, yet the voluminous threads eventually weave together to show how these wretched and paranoid characters became the lost and broken people they are today. Patient readers will be rewarded with a satisfying ending.
Takeaway: Contemporary fiction fans will be enthralled by in the tragic lives of upscale Manhattanites in this tale of espionage, corruption, and infidelity.
Great for fans of: Lara Prescott’s The Secrets We Kept, Jay Kerk’s A Predator and a Psychopath, Catherine Coulter’s Labyrinth.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
Poignant and Powerful Must-Read FictionHappenstance, serendipity and luck dominate as the lives of characters crash against one another like pinballs in Patrick Finegan’s Cooperative Lives. A novel that perfectly captures the unscripted events and coincidence of real life, where you can do your utmost best, and it’s never quite good enough. An enthralling read and perplexing mystery we quickly come to grips with who the characters are and what their lives are like as Finegan writes with such directness and a fine ear for everyday dialogue that his characters seem real and plausible in just a few brief words. Avoiding the curse of cliché his characters are uniformly strong with their identities pivoting on their successes and failures which in turn justifies an intriguing array of coincidences and surprises. And on this level, he has an uncanny ability to draw us in and to make us care about them, or at least what it is they have done.Novels like these that evolve through interlocking stories and disparate timeline often lose their way or lead to saccharin endings, where the characters are better because of what has happened to them. But Finegan explores the accidental nature of life and the way in which whole decades of our lives can be shaped by events we may not understand or even know about. Not all of them are better off at the end but perhaps some are better people because what has happened to them and this makes for a cracking denouement.A powerful, chic and evocative read, Cooperative Lives proves a superb debut for Finegan and a must-read for discerning readers of top-notch literary fiction. It is recommended without reservation.
COOPERATIVE LIVES is a complicated but beautifully engineered book, with its intertwined secrets, interacting lives, and the carefully-woven story that emerges from them.
Residents of a cooperative New York apartment building find their lives bizarrely entangled when a financial manager’s attempt to set a simple mistake right is made fodder for a huge public scandal.
The residents of a certain cooperative apartment building on Central Park South have their share of heartbreaks, secrets, and shared history. Wally is still grieving after his divorce from Hannah and the death of their daughter Alya. Hannah is being blackmailed by Wally’s boss into both an unwanted affair and cooperation on far more nefarious activity. John, a lawyer, has an unfortunate history of working for financial companies that collapse in scandalous fashion. His wife Susan wrestles with her frustrations over their marriage and with life in a wheelchair after a terrible skiing accident. Sheldon Vogel, an accountant, makes a fateful error managing a client’s investments, but falls into a coma from his injuries before he can mend matters- and what he says in a delirious state sparks a scandal that threatens to overturn multiple lives and reveal the co-op residents’ darkest secrets. Can this knot be untangled before it’s too late?
COOPERATIVE LIVES is an intricate and intriguing tale with a lot of plot twists and details hidden in plain sight, their importance to the story revealed one by one as the book progresses. Focus shifts from one point of view character to another, and back and forth in time as more secrets and backstory are exposed. Thankfully, the author kindly lets us know at the beginning of each chapter what time period that particular chapter is set in, which is helpful for keeping the story straight. The shift in character perspective lets us get to know each character from the inside, and also to see other characters through their eyes, which gives the story a multidimensional texture. The people in this story are well-drawn, each with their own fully-developed personality – and their individual personality quirks together drive the plot, demonstrating the author’s gift for truly elegant plot design. This is the sort of book that rewards, indeed perhaps requires, reading more than once in order to catch all the little details and plot points one may miss on a casual reading. It’s perhaps a bit slow to get started, but it’s all necessary setup, and once the dominos start falling, the pattern begins to reveal itself smoothly and inevitably.
COOPERATIVE LIVES is a complicated but beautifully engineered book, with its intertwined secrets, interacting lives, and the carefully-woven story that emerges from them.
How well do people really know their neighbors? More importantly, or perhaps more sinisterly, how well do those neighbors know each other – and each other’s secrets?Cooperative apartment buildings may exist everywhere, but in the U.S., they are frequently imagined as a distinct creation of the densely populated New York City landscape – the location of Cooperative Lives.This is the story of one particular co-op on Central Park South, a desirable address that is home to a number of seemingly affluent, mostly middle-aged and older residents who look as if they lead rather comfortable and downright dull lives.Of course, there wouldn’t be a story if that were the case.As the novel shifts from apartment to apartment, from resident to resident, readers glimpse the secret hurts, the poorly hidden grievances, and the deeply held griefs that inhabit each resident – and the ways that these seemingly casual acquaintances are linked by suddenly exposed lies.We are drawn into the maze of interconnectedness, slowly but inexorably, beginning with one lonely tenant sleeping on a park bench during one of New York City’s infamous blackouts. From this one life derailed by divorce, the story spirals outwards to the couple whose seemingly perfect life slalomed out of control after a skiing accident that links the first resident’s ex-wife to the one who may spend the rest of hers in a wheelchair.Who is, in turn, saved from a fatal bus collision by yet another tenant who lapses into a coma and, in his delirium, imagines events that he and his caregivers come to believe must really have happened. This winds up embroiling the cooperative in a shocking televised scandal.Cooperative Lives is a story told in multiple shifting perspectives, as each resident links to another, to another, and to another. The changes in point of view are often abrupt, but the reader who follows from person to person, lie to lie, and secret to secret will find themselves at the heart of a dark web that stretches well beyond the building to a case that almost seems ripped from the headlines of the late 2000s and early 2010s when this story takes place.While the author describes this work as extremely recent historical fiction, this character-driven story is most definitely a work of exquisite literary fiction that uses the exploration of its characters to drive the narrative. As the story opens, readers are introduced to the status quo of the residents, mundane lives that, on the surface, are not terribly interesting. But this is far from the case.Finegan does an excellent job of drawing us inside these seemingly tiny lives, and the deeper we go, the more significant these lives seem, and the greater the impact they have on each other as well as those who have been drawn into their well-written and extremely sticky web.
Who fully knows who their neighbors are and what they do day to day? Just how intertwined is your life with your neighbors? Probably a lot deeper than you could ever imagine. This is just what Patrick Finegan's Cooperative Lives takes a comprehensive investigative look into, pulling the reader into an apartment building in New York City and the lives of its residents.
Cooperative Lives is a true slice of life novel and is so exquisitely detailed that the reader cannot help but feel as if they are living right amongst them. Finegan takes you on tour through the lives of several people who appear on the surface to only be connected through their residential location. The careful web that is created from chapter to chapter delves deeper into their relationships showing just how interwoven their lives really are; everything from financial advisors to saving a neighbor's life, no stone is left unturned by Patrick Finegan.
The author keeps the freshness of the narrative flowing throughout from chapter to chapter by changing the point of view, giving fresh eyes to the situations that bind the characters together. However, rather than it being a quick flit from person to person, the reader is granted an in-depth look into each character's life, drives, passions, motivations and the hurdles they have had to overcome to get where they are. From this it is hard to not connect to each character and be completely consumed by their lives.
Cooperative Lives is a true testament of Finegan's pure literary creative skill that casts a huge shadow over all things that have come before in the genre. This is not a book that a reader can blitz through in a matter of hours and that is good as the immense quality of writing needs to be savored from word to word. With heart-stopping revelations that the reader simply will not see coming and the most detailed character development that could ever find its way into literature, this is a novel to be savored and revisited again and again in the future.
For those who haven't been a part of the New York City world and society, Cooperative Lives will have them feeling as if they had been right there all this time. Finegan skillfully intertwines the full experience of a New York life including religion, medicine, investments, and information technology for the reader to enjoy and experience at their leisure. New York City is literally brought to life on the page; the reader can walk the streets without even leaving the comfort of their home. Every aspect of this novel is so carefully thought out, explained and described that it is a truly immersive narrative that will leave the reader fully satisfied at the end. Finegan couldn't have asked for a better outcome and a more interesting read for his readers than Cooperative Lives and no doubt he has them begging for the next installment of literary work.
For true readers, the most satisfying aspect of the somewhat elite classification Literary Fiction, especially as applied to such a finely wrought example as Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan, is found within its singularly gorgeous and evocative term: Literary. A reader expects so much more from literary fiction than from its less culturally evolved siblings. And not just in the quality of writing. One expects more depth, more complexity, more resonance, more beauty. One expects, and deserves, a novel like Cooperative Lives. That is to say: if you are looking for a book to savor, to appreciate the writing as much as the story line and plot, to satisfy your love for words as much as existential observations or distractions, look no further.
Cooperative Lives is the somewhat dual title (literal and metaphorical, or at least, suggestible) of Patrick Finegan’s complex tapestry detailing the interconnected life threads of occupants in a New York City housing cooperative. Mostly long term residents, mostly old, mostly normal but eccentric (or worse), living in the second decade of 2000. If that sounds complicated, it is. If it sounds chaotic, it is not. At least, not as handled expertly and deftly by Mr. Finegan with his precision plotting and development. (Not to mention the ingenious time-arrows heading up each chapter. And certainly not to mention the plot twist to end all plot twists, even though subtly alluded to throughout.) Although tangentially colliding like billiard balls on the break, one never loses a quick perception of whose life touches whose, nor how, nor when. Seriously, this gives inordinate clarity to what should be a chaotic book. That each of these lives comes to matter so much in such a rich denouement also marks the true mastery of its author.
In an upmarket apartment block opposite Central Park in 2012, the residents are neighbors but know very little about one another. Although they are aware that there are some famous people and residents with murky pasts around them, they know little else, even though they share a postcode. The residents have their own priorities dealing with their complicated lives. However, one fateful day is going to change that. An accident involving an M7 bus is about to bring these distant neighbors into each other's lives, from the well-known writer who resides on the fourteenth floor to the lawyer in 8B. Who are the people that you innocently pass by each day as you go about your daily routine? What goes on behind closed doors may surprise you, if only you take the time to strike up a conversation with the strangers you call neighbors.
Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan offers a deliciously rich, intricate plot with so many twists and turns that will take you completely by surprise. Each of the six main characters was extremely well-developed with such a detailed backstory and little personality quirks which made them so realistic and relatable. The storyline moves along at a good pace and is a great example of how an action by one character causes a ripple effect that affects the other characters. The story has everything I look for in a fiction novel; espionage, intrigue, tension, corruption and a fantastic display of real human behavior. Although this is a work of fiction, I couldn't help but draw some similarities to recent US political history. Overall, this is a perfect example of character interaction and development. I think you have to be a writer yourself to really appreciate how the author has entwined such strong sub-plots together so effortlessly.
A character-driven novel that will excite and intrigue readers with its gripping storyline
Finegan’s writing is incredibly evocative. He captures Manhattan, and especially Central Park, really well; I felt like I was back there amongst the crowds. He captured the sights and sounds, as well as the overall feel, of the city. However, it is in his characterisations where Finegan really excels. With such a large cast of characters whose lives overlap throughout the novel, it would be easy for Cooperative Lives to become confusing and cluttered. But each person is given a distinct voice and identity, making it not only easy to work out who is speaking, but also makes the reader genuinely care about these characters. The reader is able to see both sides of a situation and can empathise with the people in it, becoming impartial observers in a way.
Cooperative Lives begins quite slowly but gradually builds momentum to a shocking climax. It is hard to talk about this aspect of the novel, mainly because of spoilers but also, I think the reader should know little going into the story. It makes the twists and turns all the more shocking, heart-breaking, and thrilling to read. It starts off at quite a slow pace which might deter some people from continuing but I really enjoyed that, as it meant I got to really know the characters. Maybe not one for those who like their novels fast-paced, but Cooperative Lives is a well-written, character-driven thriller which will keep readers hooked.
"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"
Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision.
George Wallace lives in 7H, waiting for the unit to sell after a divorce and the unfortunate death of his daughter to cancer. John and Susan Roberts are up in 8B, with John forced into early retirement after his third consecutive lost job. There he raises his daughter and tends to his wheelchair-bound wife while trying to figure out how to make ends meet. A near-accident leads John to meet Sheldon Vogel in 14N after the latter saves his wife from a bus jockeying its way through traffic. One floor below resides Mildred Whiting, prolific teen romance author and mother to a CIA agent. These are just a handful of the residents of the co-op whose stories create the narrative tapestry of spies, lawyers, and doctors that goes unnoticed by the millions of other people trying to survive in New York.
The narrative feels almost like a wind-up toy or a dog leashed up and ready to go for a walk. Whereas most books begin in a status quo and introduce their conflict to the initial detriment of their characters, this book holds all of its cards from the very first page and forces the reader to pay rapt attention as it lays each one of them down in turn. What seem like challenging but mundane moments in life soon become so much more, whether in linear progression or as the story makes time hops months or years into the past. The story itself unfolds in a similar fashion, beginning with a pair of couples who used to socialize before death, divorce, and unemployment separated them. It then grows to include suspense, intrigue, danger, and espionage without deviating from its core cast of characters.
There’s an almost tertiary moral to this story about being present and involved in each other’s lives, whether you live in a city with millions of other people or just drift through the day with your nose glued to a smartphone. Appropriately, Finegan opens the story in a city-wide blackout to set the stage for this thought. Once Wally does his doomsday preparation after recalling the nightmarish blackout of 35 years prior, he leaves his isolation and enters into a half-hearted but still refreshing socialization with tourist strangers because nothing else exists to pull his attention inward. The story doesn’t hammer this idea into the reader’s mind beyond telling what its characters don’t know because they haven’t thought to ask or notice or pay attention. Written with all the passion and flourish of a love letter yet with all the calculation and clockwork of a crime novel, Finegan’s novel is a fascinating slice-of-life that rings true even as it attempts the fantastic.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
A gripping character-driven novel
This novel is a rich tapestry, strong on character - and range of characters – and almost as strong on plot. Set in New York only a few years ago, it is a story written with a gold-tipped pen; a story full of complex characters, many, if not all of them, inherently imperfect and distrustful of others. And, I must say, I enjoyed it very much. The reader is introduced to a large number of characters – you will have to work a little to keep on top of who is who – and a cleverly written, complex plot. All of the characters, even the secondary, jump off the page. So much so, I was sympathising with many and rooting for the rest. The plot looks at many different topics, from family secrets to love, from loss to the agony of divorce. It is a story of sentiments and feelings; a story of how what we do can effect so many others. Is there a plot? Yes, there is. It’s in there. But if you are looking for a plotdriven story, this is probably not for you. But what you will find is a host of splendidly-developed characters that will not only fascinate you but will also force you to think. There’s a lot of commentary hidden in here, on how the world works or, indeed, how it’s not working. But the author’s sly and has such competent writing skills, he can put over his message without the reader ever feeling overwhelmed. The author, Patrick Finegan, works particularly well with setting. He understands how important it is not to just simply describe the setting but, rather, have the characters interact with it in a natural and unobtrusive way. There’s a lot of imagery here as the author, very successfully, helps the reader to get to know the New York setting. So, to sum up, do I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely! If you enjoy a ‘thoughtful’ tale, the sort of story that keeps you guessing, a story populated with well-constructed characters, then this is for you. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’m now going to recommend it to my husband. I so love it when I discover a new author to enjoy!
Ambitious and sophisticated, Cooperative Lives is a diverse and gorgeous tapestry of character studies.
Patrick Finegan’s luscious novel Cooperative Lives follows characters whose lives change when they are brought into close proximity with each other through a series of coincidences, accidents, and international espionage.
The book’s cast at first appears to have little in common with one another, other than the building they share in New York City. Their wounds and disappointments are revealed as they navigate the frustrations of modern life. They make efforts to hide their weaknesses, private embarrassments, and regrets—until an accident, a mistake, and an attempted cover-up inflame their steamy conflicts and secrets.
An investigation, confounded by misplaced assumptions, ineptitude, injured pride, opportunism, and bad luck, results in intrigue with surprising consequences. The story moves forward and backward in time with ease, teasing forth details and offering clues about a deeper underlying story and tangled interconnections.
The addition of an international conspiracy makes it tempting to turn pages at a rapid speed, but masterful prose, marked by evocative phrasing and apt metaphors, encourages savoring each exquisite sentence and its imagery, from “heeled and wheeled travelers scuffled for possession of the asphalt” to “Steam rose from her coffee. It traced curls between the cup and the visor. Invisible currents spun the curls about, feathered them into wisps then swallowed them as they dispersed.”
Descriptions capture settings in striking ways, including inlaid marble flooring, antique vases, and carved furniture, or a derelict apartment with a broken heater and a bathroom ripened with mold. Specificity regarding road routes, ski runs, and obscure hiking trails brings places from Squaw Valley to Oahu to life, and the book’s knowledgeability extends to the inclusion of facts about historical events and medical conditions and treatments. Characters are credible in their roles as doctors, stock traders, and IT professionals, captured as distinct and complex.
Subtle clues about characters’ backstories are inserted with care, revealing the uncertainties and compromises that drive them to make their choices and assumptions. Current events help to anchor the story in time, while tidbits of humor highlight the ironies of the modern world, and a recurring connection in chapter openings ties the pieces together in a creative way.
There’s much to relish and ponder in this tragicomedy. Ambitious and sophisticated, Cooperative Lives is a diverse and gorgeous tapestry of character studies and is a pure delight to read.
LOS ANGELES – American Book Fest has announced the winners and finalists of The 2019 American Fiction Awards on August 5, 2019. Cooperative Lives was named a finalist in the General Fiction category. The American Fiction Awards are hosted by American BookFest.
What the judges are saying about Patrick Finegan's debut novel, Cooperative Lives:
"Cooperative Lives is the most thrilling work of literature I've read all year. perhaps for many years. Through a collection of extraordinarily perceptive character depictions, Patrick Finegan evokes a complex plot of espionage, fiscal and medical malfeasance, lust and hapless coincidence that captures the essence of our times. This is not an easy book to read; it is best grasped through several readings-- as are the best of books. Not only are the characters drawn with sharp perception, each of the diverse settings and situations is presented with a deep knowledge of place and detail. This is a staggering work of research enlivened with great style and increasingly black humor. This is the US in the 21st century as formed by Caliban's god -- harrowing in its accurate vision. I hope Mr. Finegan is busy writing a sequel, I can hardly wait to see what he would do with the Trump era. I've given a low rating to the cover..."
Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book Cooperative Lives, by Patrick Finegan, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design.
Residents in a Manhattan co-op near Central Park, come and go, rarely acknowledging one another. But each of their stories are intertwined; some more so than others. At the core of the story is Sheldon, an investment manager, and Wallace who is in IT. The two have known each other for some time through their daughters. But tragedy and misfortune throw them together in ways they never could have foreseen. With a generous helping of plot twists and well fleshed-out characters, this book is an intricate study in the forces of human nature. The story is skillfully woven together to create intricate layers of intrigue that will keep readers enthralled clear through to the unexpected conclusion. Author Patrick Finegan's Cooperative Lives is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while encouraging positive values in the impressionable minds of future generations. To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at www.clcawards.org or www.childrensliteraryclassics.com
Real prize money, just one category ("best book"). 34 books made the first cut, among them Patrick Finegan's Cooperative Lives. Short List and Winner announced in December.
Patrick Finegan's debut novel, Cooperative Lives, made the 2019 Millennium Book Award short list and is the category winner in literary fiction. Jennifer Chase won the grand prize for her crime thriller, Little Girls Sleeping.
Readers' Favorite announced the results of its 2019 International Book Awards. Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan won the bronze medal for best work of drama fiction.