A Review of Cooperative Lives

by Patrick Finegan

Joel R. Dennstedt
Jun 3, 2019 · 2 min read

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.

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Joel R. Dennstedt

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