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Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1733902526 173390252X
  • 474 pages
  • $28
Ebook Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1733902533 B07PP5QRNS
  • 350 pages
  • $7.50
Paperback Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1090893635 1090893639
  • 348 pages
  • $13.99
Cooperative Lives

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

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.

Reviews
Catherine Langrehr, IndieReader

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.

Joel R. Dennstedt, Independent Book Reviews

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.

Lesley Jones, Readers' Favorite

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.

Lou Hurrell, Reedsy Discovery

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.  

Michael Radon, The US Review of Books

"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

Wendy Hinman, Foreword Clarion Reviews

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.

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1733902526 173390252X
  • 474 pages
  • $28
Ebook Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1733902533 B07PP5QRNS
  • 350 pages
  • $7.50
Paperback Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1090893635 1090893639
  • 348 pages
  • $13.99

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