A GQ Best Book of the Month · A New York Post Must-Read Book ·
A Flavorwire Book of the Week · A New York Daily News Can't-Put-Down Novel
“[Parish] has got chops, and a feel for dialogue, and is a talent in the making.”
—Bill Buford, The Wall Street Journal
“Read this book in a beach chair. . . . [A] worldy and propulsive debut.”
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Stan Parish was born in Texas and grew up in California and New Jersey. His writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Departures, New Jersey Monthly, New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in New Jersey and New York.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The birthday girl kicked off her heels and boosted herself onto a barstool to propose a toast. Courtney swayed as she stood up, digging her toes into the cracked vinyl of the cushion, bare arms outstretched. There was no fear in her expression once she’d found her balance—four years of extracurricular opera had taught her how to hold a crowd. Her dress, a loose white sheath, was opalescent in the thin light from the neon signs. It was just after 2:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, the Monday of a three-day weekend. The bar’s AC was either dead or overpowered by a cloud of body heat, and the air inside the long room felt like something you could swim through. I peeled off the top half of my tux as Courtney raised her glass and called for silence. She reminded us that we had nothing to do today, tomorrow, whatever this was. A cheer went up from the crowd, and I whistled through my teeth even though I had the sense, with exams looming, that we were all on borrowed time.
The bar was packed with high school kids in formal wear, most of us from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, sixty miles southwest of Manhattan. Courtney’s official eighteenth birthday party, dry and closely chaperoned, had been thrown by her parents at the Plaza Hotel. This was the after party: Kildare’s Irish Pub, six blocks south of the Plaza, and not particular about the age of its patrons. We looked less young all dressed up, but we did not look old enough. A knot of regulars had holed up by the bar’s blacked-out front window, nursing Harp and Cutty Sark, keeping to themselves.
I was waiting on an ice water, thinking through the drive back to New Jersey, when I saw a girl sitting alone at a table by a blinking arcade game. She was sketching in a notebook with a pencil, her eyes flitting from the page to the crowd. She discovered something unpleasant in her mouth just then—a strand of hair, a fleck of loose tobacco—and spent the next few seconds trying to extract it, pinching the tip of her tongue, going slightly cross-eyed as she stared down at her fingertips, spitting as gently and politely as she could. She looked like a courtesy invite who had run out of conversation, but that probably had more to do with my feelings than any signals she was giving off. She swept her brown hair back to reveal an earring in her right ear, something long and delicate and gold, but nothing in her left. I left my water on the bar and walked toward her. She saw me coming and snapped her notebook shut.
“Hi,” I said.
A tight smile, nothing else.
“What were you drawing?”
“Boys in jackets.”
“You don’t go to Lawrenceville.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t.”
She was fingering the elastic strap that held her notebook closed, anxious to get back to work. Up close, her earring looked like wind chimes.
“Did you lose the other one?” I asked, tapping my earlobe.
“Yeah,” she said. “Three years ago.”
“How do you know the birthday girl?”
“I’m Courtney’s cousin.”
“I’m in her class. At Lawrenceville. Can I get you a drink?”
“I’m fine,” she said, “but thank you.”
“Where do you go to school?”
We shook hands, awkwardly. She didn’t give her name, but she did turn my hand over as I was about to take it back.
“You have nice hands,” she said, as if considering them for her sketch. She caught herself then, realizing she had given me an in, but she was saved by some commotion from across the room. I turned to find a crush of people at the men’s room door.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, pulling her hair back into a ponytail, a hair tie between her teeth. “You’ll have to go see.”
I nodded and smiled, dismissed. But just before I’d turned completely, she looked up from her book and smiled back, thanking me, I guessed, for leaving right on cue.
By the time I shouldered through the crowd, two boys were struggling through the narrow door, propping up a girl who had been sick before she passed out in the stall. A freshman from some other boarding school, she had been throwing herself at someone from my class at Lawrenceville all night. I had seen her in the men’s room at the Plaza, where a plastic surgeon’s son was holding court with a film canister of Molly, powdered and ostensibly pure Ecstasy, shipped in from Oahu, which he was doling out with the wet end of his little finger. I saw the girl again, later, standing on the dance floor, running her bottom lip between her teeth so that it seemed to come out fuller every time. Then she was making out with my classmate in a back corner of Kildare’s, and now she was too far gone to stand.
A bartender hopped the bar. He hoisted the girl into his arms, shaking his head at her, at all of us. His forearms were wiry under blurred tattoos as she squirmed against him.
“She with you?” the bartender asked one of the boys, who shook his head. “Who’s she with?” he called out over the heads of the people who were inching backward, distancing themselves.
The answer to his question was standing by the bar: Clare Savage, tall, lean, nationally ranked in squash, and almost as blond as the very blond girl. A senior at Lawrenceville, like me. Our relationship had been mostly transactional; he smoked more pot than you might think to look at him, and I had been his regular supplier. Clare and I had both been day students at Lawrenceville, but there was a rumor that he had just become a boarder and moved into a dorm, which was unheard of this late in the year. I knew more about his father, a famous money manager, than I did about Clare, who was inching backward now, along with everyone else.
“She’s with him,” I said, pointing. “Clare, give this guy a hand?”
“Yeah, sure,” Clare said, looking anything but sure as he took stock of all the eyes trained on him.
“She your date?” the bartender asked.
“I guess so,” Clare said.
“Good for you.”
He dumped the girl on Clare, who held out his arms to catch her, and eased her onto her feet with an arm around her back.
“What should I do with her?” Clare asked.
“Get her the fuck out of my bar, for starters.”
The bartender opened the door and jerked his head toward the traffic on Third Avenue. Clare stared at him in disbelief, unused to taking orders from the help. As the bartender turned his back, I recalled my mother telling me to look out for a particularly wasted woman at a party we were catering to make sure that whoever took her home seemed like a Good Samaritan and not a sex offender. I had wanted to stick Clare with this mess, but I had overstepped, which made the girl my problem too. Clare was trying to coax and carry her through the door when I came up behind him.
“Here,” I said, “put your arm under hers, like this. I’ve got her. Ready?”
She was limp but light. We eased her down onto the warm sidewalk outside and propped her up against Kildare’s. Her eyes fell open and she seemed to register Clare’s face before she slipped away again.
“She’ll be fine,” I said. “Does she live in the city?”
“She lives in Jersey. In Far Hills, I think. Fuck, I barely know this girl. How did she get like this?”
“Molly,” I said.
“The other Molly. Molly from Hawaii.”
“Oh, right,” Clare said. “Jesus. What do we do now?”
“Just wait here. My car’s down the street. Far Hills is pretty close.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Stay put.”
I wasn’t sure. I checked my watch as I drove west on Forty-third Street and wondered if I should forget this, hit the road, and tell Clare when I saw him back at school that something had come up. It was almost 3:00 a.m., and I had a strong urge to take the Holland Tunnel and fly over the marshland on the southbound turnpike with the wind beating through my open windows. I kept looking at my hands on the steering wheel, thinking about what the girl in Kildare’s had said. The last knuckle on my right ring finger was bent and fat, the result of a wipeout on a head-high wave, a collision with a sandbar. My hands had always looked weak to me. I hit a yellow light on Lexington, which made for an easy left in the direction of the bar.
Clare was squatting next to his new friend when I pulled up to the curb. He gave me a wave and then turned his attention to the girl, who had come to again while I was gone. My hazard lights turned her pale skin orange as Clare helped her into the backseat of my Explorer where she stretched out and closed her eyes. He had rescued her white leather clutch somehow, and we found her address on the New Jersey learner’s permit folded up inside. Her full name was Paige Alexandra Baldwin; she lived in Ridgewood, not Far Hills. I drove south and took Forty-second to the West Side.
“Thanks for doing this,” Clare said. “I’d be fucked if you had taken off.”
That was generous, and I wondered why he wasn’t pissed at me for calling him out back at the bar. He seemed uncomfortable and unsure of himself in a way I hadn’t seen at Lawrenceville. Something else was on his mind. We were in the Lincoln Tunnel, the reflections of the overhead lights sliding rhythmically across the finish of the hood, when Clare reclined his seat a few degrees and tossed his cummerbund onto the dashboard. Make yourself at home, I thought. He was staring up at the tile ceiling, his eyes skipping slightly in their sockets, fixing on each light for a split second as it passed.
“How do you know her?” I asked.
“I don’t. I wasn’t kidding about that. She walked up to me at the Plaza and asked me for a cigarette.”
No approach required. Good for him.
We stopped for gas outside Fort Lee. In the Speedy Mart, I took a map off a rack and spread it out to find her street. Clare was leaning on the counter, his black and white clothes framed by boxes of candy, packs of cigarettes, rolls of scratch-off Lotto tickets, his blond hair already bleached by the sun. He had draped his jacket over Paige, and I could see now that he was all long muscle after years of pulling in sails hand over hand and countless hours on the squash court. A body built in recreation. The cashier was ringing up the gas and a bag of Skittles that Clare had plucked from the candy rack. I was trying to remember who had told me that a sweet tooth is a sign of weakness.
“You smoke, right?” he called to me. “Camel Lights?”
“And a carton of Camel Lights, please,” he said to the cashier.
The cashier scrutinized his license, and Clare tossed me the carton, which I caught with the open map.
“Thanks,” I said. “You didn’t have to do that. Here’s her street. I’m not that good with maps.”
Clare tore into the Skittles with his teeth and tipped the bag into his mouth, chewing slowly as he scanned the tangle of rivers and roads. He looked up at me and nodded to say that he could get us there.
As we pulled out of the gas station, I thought back to the last time Clare and I had occupied the front seat of a car. Most of the people I sold to at Lawrenceville seemed to get off on the ritual buys, the overly clandestine meetings, the inane questions about quality and provenance. And most of them understood that waiting was part of the game. But then one day I showed up an hour late to meet Clare, who stared straight ahead when I collapsed into the passenger seat of his black Saab, parked behind the pizza joint across the street from campus. I apologized and asked how he was doing.
“What took so long?” he said.
I had been glancing at my watch so often that I could have answered with the precision of a ship’s log: eleven minutes on the road from Lawrenceville to the brick blocks of low-income housing behind Mercer Mall once I realized that I was a quarter ounce short. This was in the two days between winter trimester finals and Christmas break, when demand always outstripped supply. I spent four minutes ringing the buzzer of number 147 before the door buzzed back and I shot across the living room, past Eduardo’s grandmother, installed like a gargoyle at one end of the sofa, a bath towel draped over her knees as a blanket. Fourteen minutes up in Eduardo’s room after he held up an Xbox controller in greeting and insisted that I play some Grand Theft Auto III with him, because I only called him in emergencies and he knew that I was scrambling. Twenty minutes back to campus, the traffic thickening as cars coursed out of the office parks that lined Route 1. I had been shuttling between two worlds, which takes time. I let Clare’s question hang between us, overcharged him, and went home.
A winding county road ran past darkened strip malls and sprawling public schools once we were off the highway. Clare was staring out at nothing, giving me occasional directions in a voice that sounded either bored or tired.
“You’re not worried about this?” I asked him. “You don’t think they’ll be pissed?”
Clare shook his head. He was the clean-cut kid you’d want to bring your daughter home if she got sick in the city. There was nothing for him to be afraid of. I turned to look at Paige, hoping for additional assurances, but Paige had left the building.
“Take the next left,” Clare said. “No, wait, it’s this one. Turn here.”
A new development, with massive houses stacked on both sides of an unlined street. The first one we passed looked like an Italian villa with adolescent trees scattered across the lawn. The granite curbs that lined the road were high and clean.
“What should we tell these people?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Clare said. “We can’t leave her on the lawn, though. This is it. This one on the right.”
The house had a soaring brick façade. I stepped out of the car while Clare tucked in his shirt and smoothed his hair. His movements were sharper now, but he seemed relaxed and purposeful as he rolled his sleeves back down his forearms and dug through his pockets for a pair of silver cuff links. I stared up at the floodlights trained on us as we walked the flagstone path to the front door. Gnats formed a haze around the fixtures, swarming, crashing into the glass. Clare rang the bell.
A flash of light from an upstairs window, and then a long pause broken by a deadbolt’s heavy click, and the scream of new hinges as the door swung open. The man behind it wore pleated suit pants, a wrinkled undershirt, and salt-stained boat shoes that seemed to be on the verge of exploding as the weight of his body strained the stitching and squashed the rubber soles against the marble floor. He looked wide awake, ready to take on both of us, if that was what it came to. This was exactly what I had been afraid of.
“Can I help you?” he asked, one hand on the doorknob, the other half clenched at his side.
“Hi, Mr. Baldwin,” Clare said. “Clare Savage. Sorry to wake you up like this, but Paige got a little sick at this thing in the city and we wanted to make sure she got home.”
“It’s Mr. Quinn, actually. I’m her stepdad.” Then: “Clare Savage? Are you Michael’s son?”
There was a ripple in Clare’s clothes as his entire body tensed. The shock of Mr. Quinn’s recognition reminded me of the way lightning was described in my sixth-grad...
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Book Description Penguin Books 2015-05-19, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9780143127338B
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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A GQ Best Book of the Month A New York Post Must-Read Book A Flavorwire Book of the Week A New York Daily News Can t-Put-Down Novel [Parish] has got chops, and a feel for dialogue, and is a talent in the making. Bill Buford, The Wall Street Journal Read this book in a beach chair. . . . [A] worldy and propulsive debut. GQ An exhilarating novel of reinvention, friendship, and ambition from the Jersey Shore to St. Andrews in Scotland Tom Alison has it all within his reach. He s smart, handsome, and about to graduate from a prestigious East Coast boarding school. After that it s off to the Ivy League and then a job on Wall Street, alongside the power brokers he s been watching from a distance as the working-class son of a single mom. And then the very life his mother worked so hard to escape catches up with him when he gets busted selling drugs. Lucky for Tom, there are places for boys and girls with ruined reputations. First, he returns to his roots on the Jersey Shore, reconnecting with a hard-living crew and cementing a bond with his new friend Clare Savage the son of a recently disgraced financier. The two boys spend their summer surfing and partying. When fall arrives, they head to St. Andrews University in Scotland, a haven for Americans in need of a second chance and a favorite of the British ruling class. Tom and Clare escape to Scotland together, but it s Tom who discovers a world shaped by even more powerful forces of greed and ambition than the one he left behind. Sucked into a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and status, Tom learns what it takes to break the rules and how we can be broken by them. Driven by a cast of young men and women living in an age of riotous prosperity, Down the Shore is an unflinching and unforgettable story of youth steeped in excess. Stan Parish has crafted a gripping novel that masterfully captures the lives of fallen financiers and the people they bring down with them and reminds us that not even an ocean can separate us from our family, our friends, or our past. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780143127338
Book Description Penguin Random House. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0143127330
Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A GQ Best Book of the Month A New York Post Must-Read Book A Flavorwire Book of the Week A New York Daily News Can t-Put-Down Novel [Parish] has got chops, and a feel for dialogue, and is a talent in the making. Bill Buford, The Wall Street Journal Read this book in a beach chair. . . . [A] worldy and propulsive debut. GQ An exhilarating novel of reinvention, friendship, and ambition from the Jersey Shore to St. Andrews in Scotland Tom Alison has it all within his reach. He s smart, handsome, and about to graduate from a prestigious East Coast boarding school. After that it s off to the Ivy League and then a job on Wall Street, alongside the power brokers he s been watching from a distance as the working-class son of a single mom. And then the very life his mother worked so hard to escape catches up with him when he gets busted selling drugs. Lucky for Tom, there are places for boys and girls with ruined reputations. First, he returns to his roots on the Jersey Shore, reconnecting with a hard-living crew and cementing a bond with his new friend Clare Savage the son of a recently disgraced financier. The two boys spend their summer surfing and partying. When fall arrives, they head to St. Andrews University in Scotland, a haven for Americans in need of a second chance and a favorite of the British ruling class. Tom and Clare escape to Scotland together, but it s Tom who discovers a world shaped by even more powerful forces of greed and ambition than the one he left behind. Sucked into a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and status, Tom learns what it takes to break the rules and how we can be broken by them. Driven by a cast of young men and women living in an age of riotous prosperity, Down the Shore is an unflinching and unforgettable story of youth steeped in excess. Stan Parish has crafted a gripping novel that masterfully captures the lives of fallen financiers and the people they bring down with them and reminds us that not even an ocean can separate us from our family, our friends, or our past. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780143127338
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97801431273381.0
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0143127330