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Wolf at the Table


Wolf at the Table

Myra Lee Larkin is the oldest of five children living with her parents in Elmira, New York. Her mother expects much from her as the eldest sibling. In 1951, Myra is 13 years old and seeks periods of solitude whenever she can find them. She sneaks off to a diner to read the controversial THE CATCHER IN THE RYE before her daily curfew. A stranger strikes up a conversation with her and makes quite an impression. The man says his name is Mickey Mantle, and the only things that erase him from her reverie are her baby brother’s hospitalization and the triple murder of a local family.

In 1964, Alec is the black sheep of the Larkin family, shuffling from job to job and one single-room occupancy to another. Laziness appears to be the reason for his inevitable dismissal from each job, or at least that’s what his recent boss has informed him. Alec’s friend, Duke, consoles him and advises him of a plan to make some fast money. He goes with Duke and inadvertently becomes involved in a robbery-homicide.

"Rapp has written an extraordinary novel that dismantles the nuclear family but illustrates how some bonds can remain indestructible."

As the turbulent 1960s progress, a majority of the Larkins reunite for a Christmas Eve dinner. The contrasts between the siblings are apparent as Myra is working as a nurse in Chicago, Lexy is attending college in New Haven, Fiona embodies the free-spirited hippie, Alec is MIA and Joan is developmentally challenged. The dinner descends into chaos as Fiona and Lexy engage in trading barbs intended to sting the other, while the remainder of the guests serve as mediators or merely spectators.

The ensuing decades witness Myra getting married and having a child, Ronan, with a troubled man named Denny. Ronan goes to New York to become a writer and finds love. Lexy also weds and has two children. Joan remains home, where she is often a comfort to her mother. Fiona’s life takes her from Myra’s couch to a commune and then to New York City in an attempt to be an actress. Alec’s pursuits begin to take him down a road that is far darker than anyone could imagine.

WOLF AT THE TABLE charts 60 turbulent years through the eyes of one family and leaves no emotion unshed. Adam Rapp brings limitless depth to each of the prominent characters featured in his latest work. Myra enters the novel as a romantic soul who identifies with Holden Caulfield from THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. As a young teenager, she is restless yet doesn’t shirk her familial obligations. She is the polar opposite of Alec and Fiona. Fiona is the perpetual adolescent who envies her older sisters and always has her hand out. Alec is a troubled man whose apathy is only rivaled by his cruelty. Each chapter is engrossing and functions as a novella on its own, where the climax often involves a shocking moment.

Rapp has written an extraordinary novel that dismantles the nuclear family but illustrates how some bonds can remain indestructible.

Reviewed by Philip Zozzaro on March 22, 2024

Wolf at the Table
by Adam Rapp

  • Publication Date: March 19, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316434167
  • ISBN-13: 9780316434164