Book Review: Million Dollar View

Simply by glancing at the cover, Silver Krieger’s Million Dollar View engages all of the imagination’s senses.  The title evokes visions of urban landscapes and Keith Duquette’s drawings bring the comical, tragic, and graphic images of Krieger’s prose to life. But other senses are also captivated; the smell of garbage in a changing neighborhood reeks from the street onto the pages, the sense of touch and texture are brought to life through the artwork of character Nicole DeGioia, and the noise of a protest fills the reader’s ears.  As I read the book on my subway commutes, I took in these sensory descriptions along with my morning mug of coffee.

Krieger, who cites Armistead Maupin’s readable style as an influence on her own writing, set out to write a romantic comedic novel and stumbled upon significant social and political implications as well. Krieger reflects on her inspiration: “The initial situation – a strait-laced guy from Wall Street who has to get Park Slope lesbians out of their bar- struck me as hilarious when I thought of it.”  The book weaves through the relationships of Flynn Sharpe, a real estate agent who still has a conscience and a heart, as he ambivalently seeks to gentrify a Park Slope neighborhood and falls for a local artist. In the style of interweaving stories like the film Crash (2005), the novel introduces characters whose lives intersect with one another in simultaneous drama and explication: Wendy, the friendly local bartender at Aunt Muffin’s; Buzz, the ego-centric real estate agent who sees his pets as a gay status symbol; and Helen Haliburton, the older Southern client who clashes with New York. Million Dollar View is extremely readable, at times colloquial, and true to the language of New York City (the “f-bomb” is dropped liberally).  Nicole’s rants remind me of true inner (and outer) monologues spoken about gentrification and a changing sense of place.

The author is a native New Yorker, and in her writing Brooklyn has emerged as a very distinct character itself, a quirky character with a sense of humor and a toughness that Krieger hopes will never be lost. One of the most humorous depictions takes place when Flynn infiltrates a community meeting opposing the destruction of Aunt Muffins. Flynn wonders: “Where were the eye-catching radicals he always saw on the news, shoving tofu in police officers’ faces while wearing red communist-looking kerchiefs to hide from the FBI?” (103). Krieger debunks and pokes fun at stereotype by illuminating their truths and ridiculousness. A similar comical moment comes when Flynn tries to fit in with Brooklyn hipsters and impulsively wanders into a Brooklyn industries and leaves with a new shoulder bag.  The book presents co-protagonists in Flynn and Nicole, Flynn who enters a new neighborhood, and Nicole, whose neighborhood is intruded upon by the likes of Flynn, and who wonders “How do you say f*uck you in smoke rings?” (159).

Million Dollar View casually enters a conversation about changing demographics in New York and changing senses of belonging. The book satisfies a passion for both a lighthearted romantic comedy novel and a deeper interrogation of how a location can shape identities.

Million Dollar View is available for sale through McNally Jackson: http://www.mcnallyjackson.com/bookmachine/million-dollar-view-silver-krieger

 

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