The Portable Veblen

By

The Portable Veblen Alex B.
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Product Description

"A young couple on the brink of marriage--the charming Veblen and her fiancâe Paul, a brilliant neurologist--find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other's dysfunctional families, to the attentions ofa seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tãete-áa-tãete with a very charismatic squirrel. Veblen (named after the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term "conspicuous consumption") is one of the most refreshing heroines in recent fiction. Not quite liberated from the burdens of her hypochondriac, narcissistic mother and her institutionalized father, Veblen is an amateur translator and "freelance self"; in other words, she's adrift. Meanwhile, Paul--the product of good hippies who were bad parents--finds his ambition soaring. His medical research has led to the development of a device to help minimize battlefield brain trauma--an invention that gets him swept up in a high-stakes deal with the Department of Defense, a BizarroWorld that McKenzie satirizes with granular specificity"--

Editorial Reviews

On the brink of her marriage, a charmingly quirky, unassumingly intelligent, and winningly warmhearted young woman forges an unusually strong bond with a squirrel. It's easy to understand why everyone in Veblen Amundsen-Hovda's life adores and depends on her. The heroine of McKenzie's (MacGregor Tells the World, 2007, etc.) disarmingly offbeat novel is the sort of person who not only sews her own clothes and fixes up her own tumbledown bungalow (in ultrapricey Palo Alto, California), but supports herself working temp jobs while performing the unappreciated yet worthy task of translating texts from Norwegian, especially those pertaining to maverick economist, anti-materialist, and leisure-class critic Thorstein Veblen, after whom she was named. Veblen—whom the author describes as an "independent behaviorist, experienced cheerer-upper, and freelance self"—has just gotten engaged to Paul Vreeland, an equally charming yet outwardly more conventional young neurologist, whose academic research has led to a device that's captured the attention of industry and the Department of Defense. Paul and Veblen are in love, betrothed, and planning their wedding and life together, but Paul is tempted by the kind of "conspicuous consumption" Veblen's economist namesake and hero railed against. Meanwhile, Veblen's heart has been stolen by a squirrel, who she suspects understands her in a way no one else may. Paul is struggling to calibrate his ethical compass—and to come to terms with his issues surrounding his hippy parents and his intellectually disabled brother, Justin. Veblen is laboring to free herself from the demands of her narcissistic, hypochondriacal mother (not to mention the mentally unstable father who was mostly absent from her childhood) and stake her claim to her own healthy identity and future. Will these kind, if somewhat confused, young people find their ways out of the past and to each other and a happy shared future? The reade r can't help rooting them on. McKenzie's idiosyncratic love story scampers along on a wonderfully zig-zaggy path, dashing and darting in delightfully unexpected directions as it progresses toward its satisfying end and scattering tasty literary passages like nuts along the way. Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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