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Conference of Birds

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Hardcover published by Other Press (Other Press)

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About This Book
The resonant sequel to Meritocracy: A Love Story

It is the late '70s in Manhattan and God is dead. A group of people come together to explore the void left behind. Neither Buddhist nor Sufi nor Hindu nor New Age, but rather New York mongrels of the spiritual, as brash and defiant as their chaotic, bankrupt city, they embark on what seems like a journey described in a 12th century Persian poem.

Among them are the shy and sweet-natured Bobby, a gifted cartoonist and the group's mascot; Maisie the acid-tongued rich girl who is fighting a two-front war, against mental instability and Hodgkin's disease; the narrator Louie, a very nearly accidental pilgrim torn between his friends and the purpose that has engulfed him; and the group's austere leader Joe, a saint to some, a pervert to others.

Their impossible and youthful quest hurtles the group's members towards a destiny they cannot even imagine. Is it oblivion they seek, or remembrance? As the dramatic climax of their journey envelops them, distinctions between internal and external, heart and mind, word and silence, all collapse, rendering the world an ambiguous and mysterious place.
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The resonant sequel to Meritocracy: A Love Story

It is the late '70s in Manhattan and God is dead. A group of people come together to explore the void left behind. Neither Buddhist nor Sufi nor Hindu nor New Age, but rather New York mongrels of the spiritual, as brash and defiant as their chaotic, bankrupt city, they embark on what seems like a journey described in a 12th century Persian poem.

Among them are the shy and sweet-natured Bobby, a gifted cartoonist and the group's mascot; Maisie the acid-tongued rich girl who is fighting a two-front war, against mental instability and Hodgkin's disease; the narrator Louie, a very nearly accidental pilgrim torn between his friends and the purpose that has engulfed him; and the group's austere leader Joe, a saint to some, a pervert to others.

Their impossible and youthful quest hurtles the group's members towards a destiny they cannot even imagine. Is it oblivion they seek, or remembrance? As the dramatic climax of their journey envelops them, distinctions between internal and external, heart and mind, word and silence, all collapse, rendering the world an ambiguous and mysterious place.
Product Details
Hardcover (256 pages)
Published: September 17, 2005
Publisher: Other Press
Imprint: Other Press
ISBN: 9781590511244
Other books byJeffrey Lewis
  • Meritocracy

    Meritocracy
    Meritocracy is the story of a generation when it was young, caught at the moment when history arrived to exact a tragic and inevitable price. It is the end of the summer of 1966 and a small group of friends, recent Yale graduates, gather in a Maine summer cottage to say good-bye to one of their own. Harry Nolan is joining the Army and may be sent to Vietnam. Also present is Harry's beautiful young bride, Sascha. Harry and Sascha represent to their friends the apex of their generation. Sascha has men falling for her "up and down the eastern seaboard," and Harry, a rich and fearless Californian, son of a United States senator, has his friends convinced that he will one day be president. The story proceeds from the point-of-view of one of the friends, Louie, whose unspoken love for Sascha is like a worm that works its way through the narrative, cracking apart every innocent assumption. An aura of power, earned and unearned, assumed and desired, hangs over this Ivy League world. And it settles at last on Harry, who on this final weekend before his induction comes to understand a terrible paradox: if he's going into the Army simply to maintain his political viability, his action will dishonor his right to lead; but if he doesn't go, he will likely never have the chance. His wrestling with this paradox unleashes a spiral of events that becomes as fateful for all the characters as it is emblematic of the times they grew up in. In one sense, Meritocracy is a novel for the Al Gores and John Kerrys and George Bushes of today's America. But in a larger sense it is a book for all those of the postwar generation who have mourned the loss of their true "best and brightest," and who regret how the life of their nation, so brightly and hopefully imagined when they were young, and now entrusted to their care, has come to be diminished.

    Theme Song For An Old Show

    Theme Song For An Old Show
    A deeply felt homage to classic television from the author of Meritocracy and The Conference of the Birds. One of the most beloved programs in the history of television, the cop show Northie, has fallen into a ratings slump. Will it be cannibalized by unscrupulous studio executives for one last burst of high scores? Or will it be allowed to conclude its run in dignity? These are the questions faced by the protagonist Louie, now a television producer, in this third volume of Jeffrey Lewis's "Meritocracy Quartet." Zacky Kurtz, the "King of Television," who is obsessed by the possibility of being the first producer to get "bare ass" on network television, drives the plot toward a conclusion that is as passionate an indictment of our mass culture's coarsening as American literature has recently produced. Yet Theme Song for an Old Show is about more than dirty business on television. It is an elegiac tribute to the medium, and to the kind of show of which Louie was a proud part, and to Louie’s father, a television producer of an earlier, more naïve era. PRAISE FOR JEFFREY LEWIS'S MERITOCRACY: A LOVE STORY: "A hauntingly beautiful love story...loaded with powerful characters...written by a writer with consummate skill." – The Portland Press-Herald "A sheen of nostalgia glazes this tribute to privileged college kids in the 1960s...a paean to lost youth and hopes." – Publishers Weekly "Jeffrey Lewis's wonderful novel Meritocracy [has] historical perspective and reach...A tragic story about what could have been and what wasn't." – The Jerusalem Post

    Adam the King

    Adam the King
    The wedding of billionaire Adam Bloch and Maisie Maclaren is the event of the year in Clement's Cove, Maine–a town in which the mansion-like "cottages" of the summering elite sit side-by-side with the modest homes of working-class locals. Adam, a shy, tentative man with a terrible tragedy in his past, has, at fifty-four, reached the moment in his life when he feels he is finally ready to live–and yet he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. When Maisie asks for a lap pool so she can strengthen her body, debilitated by years of Hodgkin's disease, Adam approaches his neighbor with a generous offer to buy the plot of land on which her trailer sits to make room for the pool. She refuses, and a chain of events is set in motion that pits Adam against his neighbors, the new rich against those scraping by, outsider against old-timer, in an escalating struggle that can only end in catastrophe. Taut, swift, and startling, Adam the King depicts the inexorability of fate against the backdrop of the money-mad '90s, the emptiness of raging ambition and the fallout of the drift toward conservative politics and values.

    Gender and Sexuality For Beginners

    Gender and Sexuality For Beginners
    We should not need to prove our experiences, defend our realities, or negotiate basic human rights. But we do. What does sexual orientation mean if the very categories of gender are in question? How do we measure equality when our society's definitions of "male" and "female" leave out much of the population? There is no consensus on what a "real" man or woman is, where one's sex begins and ends, or what purpose the categories of masculine and feminine traits serve. While significant strides have been made in recent years on behalf of women's, gay and lesbian rights, there is still a large division between the law and day-to-day reality for LGBTQIA and female-identified individuals in American society. The practices, media outlets and institutions that privilege heterosexuality and traditional gender roles as "natural" need a closer examination. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners considers the uses and limitations of biology in defining gender. Questioning gender and sex as both categories and forms of compulsory identification, it critically examines the issues in the historical and contemporary construction, meaning and perpetuation of gender roles. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners interweaves neurobiology, psychology, feminist, queer and trans theory, as well as historical gay and lesbian activism to offer new perspectives on gender inequality, ultimately pointing to the clear inadequacy of gender categories and the ways in which the sex-gender system oppresses us all.  Gender and Sexuality For Beginners examines the evolution of gender roles and definitions of sexual orientation in American society, illuminating how neither is as objective or "natural" as we are often led to believe.

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