The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W


Gabriel Brownstein (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

Nine Salingeresque stories about New Yorkers and their marvelous eccentricities.

This brilliantly inventive first collection captures the disparate lives of the residents of Manhattan's West 89th Street. Five stories are set in one apartment building, where young Davie Birnbaum watches his neighbors' lives unfold. The title story reworks F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," whose hero is born as an old man and ages in reverse; Brownstein's Button lives on the third floor, fading away toward infancy. In apartment 7E, a lawyer named Zauberman reenacts the life of Hawthorne's Wakefield: he abandons his family so that he can spy on them. Meanwhile, the proctologist in the penthouse plays Icarus and Daedalus with his misfit son. These are tales of literary voyeurism, as the narrators look in on other people's everyday victories and misfortunes—marriages, car accidents, love affairs, and adoptions—and make sense of what they see by thinking about the stories they know best. Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award; Finalist for the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award; Chosen as a 2002 Book to Remember by the New York Public Library.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • September 2003
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32478-5
  • 5.5 × 8.2 in / 224 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.


Endorsements & Reviews

“[A] master storyteller...There is no doubt, this collection introduces a great talent.” — Martha McPhee, author of Bright Angel Time

“[A] wonderfully unsettling, feverish collection of short stories—funny and haunting and unlike anything else out there.” — Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing

“Uncanny, funny as hell, inventive on every page, Gabriel Brownstein displays sheer literary imagination and writes with impressive vividness.” — Howard Norman, author of The Haunting of L.

“A breathing monument to childhood, to Manhattan, and in its good-natured way, to literature itself.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Completely fresh...truly moving.” — Salon

“Fantastically imagined...reverberates with subtle emotional tension.” — Chicago Tribune

“Starred Review. Marvelously smooth hybrid tales that prompt readers to think twice about the intersection of life and fiction.” — Publishers Weekly

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