Hermione Hoby’s millennial bildungsroman ‘Virtue’ explores the consequences of living an irresponsible life.

Book review

Before Dartmouth, before Oxford, and before a prestigious education in a New York City novel, Luca, the protagonist of Hermione Hoby’s “Right,” Luke is just from Broomfield, Colorado. The son of a dentist who spends his free time making wedding cake decorations and watching “Real Housewives,” he learned Luca forced himself to shave by watching YouTube videos. He trained himself by reading “Madame Bovary” after his gas-driving job was over and looking for a dirt cover. dust called “Twenty Great American Painters” he found on a neglected shelf in his high school room. “If I could give you a descriptive picture of my youth, ” he explained, “It’s like this: I’m lying on my bed with a flat sheet folded down and a little Morrisey is sitting in my head singing sweetly: And when you want to live, how do you start?

Donald Trump was elected within months of Luca starting his internship at The New Old World, Hoby’s stand-in for long “legacy” publications like The Paris Review and The New Yorker. The seismic political and cultural changes leading up to the 2016 election are similar to the life that Luca, at the age of 22, has begun to create for himself. The problem of morality at the heart of “Virtue,” an issue that Hoby explores from the beginning, is this: In an era of rapidly changing expectations about what the good life is like and Well, where are our rights?

This one-millennium story plays out between two poles. On the other hand, Zara, a black person who is active in criticizing the great white actor Luca, but does not care about his attention. Through the press, Luca meets Paula Summers and her husband Jason Frank, an artist and filmmaker, who own a Cobble Hill brownstone, homemade sourdough, unspeakable rates Diptyque candles, and the height of the pictorial world that represents the kind of life he left behind. Broomfield to explore. Disregarding Zara’s assessment that they are nothing more than “common bougie liberals,” Luca becomes involved in their lives, leaving the New York City protests to end bright, cinematic summer in their second home on the Maine coast.

While relaxing on the beach and going to some parties like Gatsby thrown by the Summers-Frank milieu, the white supremacists went to Charlottesville, Virginia, and killed a woman. Zara published a blistering, viral article criticizing the New Old World in which she said it was time to “get rid of the document” because the magazine “refuses to see more political truths.” do more harm than good.” And the crescendo in Luca’s summer of lies: Zara’s counter-argument takes an unexpected turn.

What does it mean to live your opposite life? What does it mean to be able to let people’s pain be a background noise? What are the consequences of starting a program of information development when the world is falling?

These are the questions Hoby wants his readers to think about, and they are inseparable from the millennial experience. Today, Luca is 27 years old. Soon after he learned about the Earth’s biodiversity in his kindergarten class, he probably learned about climate change. The memory of watching the planes crash into the Twin Towers on television before school, at his age, was probably one of his first and most unusual. Like many of us, his student loan debt is “epic,” and from his upcoming memoir, he thinks about the days between “the first and second illness.” Foreign wars were the loud noise of his childhood, and protests against fascism and police brutality were deafening signs of his 20s.

In his article “Where Millennials Come From,” Jia Tolentino writes that millennials “are a generation. [that] inherited the world without being able to live in it. This is true for Luca and even more so for Zara. If “Virtue” is a portrait of a young man who doesn’t respond to the needs of his time because he’s chasing the dreams he’s always been told to follow, it’s unfortunate that he didn’t realize it sooner. . A dream is a beautiful thing and the misfortune is not equally distributed among its companions.

If “Virtue” is about the possibility of art in a time of ever-increasing risk, Zara’s question called to “finish the document” leaves the readers if there is a right of the artist represents their time and place. but show them right. Zara, who was given by Hoby an unstoppable power, overcomes a nihilistic conflict between work and justice that is not questioned. Although the way in which Zara reaches his arguments may lead the reader to understand him as a symbol rather than a character as a whole, his thoughts on the cause and the need for art to present valid arguments about counter-culture in the Trump-era. .

Although the book The final position is not clear, the content of the image in “Virtue” promotes a political connection, while the personal content and beauty of the image presented in the story are mocked. it’s – and worse, sometimes it’s called adultery. By letting some of the story’s interesting elements fade out, Hoby undermines what is otherwise a complex and insightful view of millennial life.

Hermione Hoby, Riverhead Books, 320 pp., $27

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