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Trenton Makes: A Novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2018
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Description
In 1946, in the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey, a woman kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl—and then assumes his identity. As Abe Kunstler, he secures a factory job, buys a car, and successfully woos a young woman with whom he makes a home. But for Abe, this is not enough: to complete his transformation, he needs a son. Fast-forward to 1971, and the certainties of midcentury triumphalism are a distant, bitter memory, Trenton’s heyday as a factory town is long past, and the family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse. Written in brilliantly stylized prose, Trenton Makes is the indelibly told story of a woman determined to carve out her share of the American Dream.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/20/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385543392
ASIN:
B0738KQWLS
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Tadzio Koelb. (2018). Trenton Makes: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tadzio Koelb. 2018. Trenton Makes: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tadzio Koelb, Trenton Makes: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tadzio Koelb. Trenton Makes: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Grouped Work ID:
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Needs Update?:
Yes
Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:26:48
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:47:05
Last Metadata Check:
May 12, 2024 10:08:12
Last Metadata Change:
Nov 19, 2023 11:21:49
Last Availability Check:
May 12, 2024 10:08:15
Last Availability Change:
May 07, 2024 12:31:42
Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
May 19, 2024 03:32:13

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      • value: Vietnam
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      • role: Author
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      • bioText: Tadzio Koelb is a graduate of the prestigious writing program at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. He has translated André Gide’s work and is an active reviewer and essayist for a variety of publications that include The New York Times and The Times Literary Supplement. He teaches writing at Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. www.tadziokoelb.com
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title
Trenton Makes
fullDescription
In 1946, in the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey, a woman kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl—and then assumes his identity. As Abe Kunstler, he secures a factory job, buys a car, and successfully woos a young woman with whom he makes a home. But for Abe, this is not enough: to complete his transformation, he needs a son. Fast-forward to 1971, and the certainties of midcentury triumphalism are a distant, bitter memory, Trenton’s heyday as a factory town is long past, and the family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse. Written in brilliantly stylized prose, Trenton Makes is the indelibly told story of a woman determined to carve out her share of the American Dream.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "A novel of bewitching ingenuity. . . . Trenton Makes boasts the force of real freshness."
      • premium: False
      • source: O, The Oprah Magazine
      • content: "[A] transgressive, barbed-wire-sharp debut novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Times Literary Supplement
      • content: "In Trenton Makes, his fever dream of a debut novel, Tadzio Koelb puts a gothic, shocking spin on the effects of mid-century American masculinity and the fragile scaffolding that has kept it upright."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Dallas Morning News
      • content: "[A] taut and startling debut, in which Rust Belt Trenton becomes a character as vivid as the people."
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: "Trenton Makes is a fascinating interrogation of the industrial American dream."
      • premium: False
      • source: Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire
      • content: "The honed-steel sentences on display here--vivid and sharp and scarily persuasive--are all the more harrowing for the vulnerability they manage to convey. Abe Kunstler is a singular protagonist, and Trenton Makes is a passionate and original first novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
      • content: "A stunning debut. Utterly brilliant."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Missourian
      • content: "Koelb's novel is an evocative and innovative story. He conveys the single protagonist's character with sharp, gritty descriptions that stay in the reader's head for a long while. This sharply honed, disturbing portrait . . . draws attention to a past era of triumphant white, American manhood, but also to the remnants of it that exists today to the detriment of men and those they love."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 20, 2017
        In this taut debut, Koelb takes on manhood and the rise and fall of the American Century as Trenton, N.J., evolves from a booming postwar factory town to a place full of closed factories and dope-smoking, draft-dodging hippies. The protagonist, Abe Kunstler, is a watchful, angry man whose life is predicated on keeping his secret: he is no man at all, but a woman who killed her traumatized veteran husband in a marital fight, cut her hair, and, physically built up from wartime factory work, went out into the world. For Abe, power lies in manliness, not the weak body of a disrespected female. For a while he achieves that power: he acquires the suit that makes him feel like a “real man”; a marriage of sorts with Inez, a dancehall girl with a taste for alcohol; and even a son. But the son intended as the final proof and future of Abe’s masculinity comes of age when America is riven by generational divides and mired in a senseless war. Koelb is insightful, if not always subtle, about how short the era of triumphant white American manhood was and its tendency to fight a rear-guard action that hurts men and those they love. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2018

        This ambitious first novel addresses very important subject matter: gender and identity. Set in Trenton, NJ, the story begins just after World War II. Protagonist Abe Kunstler is a hard-drinking laborer who works with a large group of men at a wire factory. The only difference between Abe and everybody else there is that Abe is actually a woman who has been living as a man since accidentally killing her abusive husband in a violent domestic quarrel. As unlikely as it may sound, Abe is somehow, we are given to believe, able to maintain this life for decades, even finding a way to marry a woman and have a son. Koelb is obviously exploring complex emotional and psychological territory here. Unfortunately, he leaves a great deal undeveloped and unexamined--especially in terms of Abe's motivation, psychology, and interior life. Readers may therefore be unable to accept the main premise of the novel. Nonetheless, the author's overall message is powerful. Koelb shows how profoundly gender roles influence individual lives and how devastating it is for those who become strangers or impostors in their own lives. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in gender and identity. [See Prepub Alert, 9/15/17.]--Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 15, 2018
        WWII is over, and men return home, many to left-behind wives who became wholly self-supporting citizens out of necessity. For one such couple in Trenton, New Jersey, the postwar clash proves fatal, and the sole survivor completely reinvents herself. My name is Abe Kunstler. I was a soldier and a POW . . . and I was wounded in the war. The name is especially telling. In German, Kunstler is both artist and performer, and Abe is a thorough creation. His haircut, fitted suit, and the necessary, body-altering bindings, attributed to war woundsall affirm manhood. Deliberately, he acquires the symbols of masculine successfactory job, wife, home, even an heir. Nineteen years later, that son, compellingly named Art, becomes the greatest threat to Abe's existence. First-time novelist Koelb, an Andre Gide translator and Rutgers writing instructor, spent two years learning Trenton's historical vernacular via radio serials and period tabloids. With that scrupulously acquired voice, he deftly confronts gender, identity, and socioeconomic limits to create a piercing tragedy of a life caught between free will and utter desperation.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
In 1946, in the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey, a woman kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl—and then assumes his identity. As Abe Kunstler, he secures a factory job, buys a car, and successfully woos a young woman with whom he makes a home. But for Abe, this is not enough: to complete his transformation, he needs a son. Fast-forward to 1971, and the certainties of midcentury triumphalism are a distant, bitter memory, Trenton’s heyday as a factory town is long past, and the family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse. Written in brilliantly stylized prose, Trenton Makes is the indelibly told story of a woman determined to carve out her share of the American Dream.
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      • description: Fiction / LGBTQ+ / General