The Vices by Lawrence Douglas

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Oliver Vice, forty-one, prominent philosopher, scholar, and art collector, is missing and presumed dead, over the side of Queen Mary 2.Troubled by his friend’s possible suicide, the unnamed narrator of Lawrence Douglas’ new novel launches an all-consuming investigation into Vice’s life history. Douglas, moving backward through time, tells a mordantly humorous story of fascination turned obsession, as his narrator peels back the layers of the Vice family’s rich and bizarre history. At the heart of the family are Francizka, Oliver’s handsome, overbearing, vaguely anti-Semitic Hungarian mother, and his fraternal twin brother, Bartholomew, a gigantic and troubled young man with a morbid interest in Europe’s great tyrants. As the narrator finds himself drawn into a battle over the family’s money and art, he comes to sense that someone—or perhaps the entire family—is hiding an unsavory past. Pursuing the truth from New York to London, from Budapest to Portugal, he remains oblivious to the irony of the search: that in his need to understand Vice’s life, he is really grappling with ambivalence about his own.

About Lawrence Douglas

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LAWRENCE DOUGLAS' s writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Hudson Review, McSweeney's, and the New Yorker, and he is a regular contributor to the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Times Literary Supplement. He teaches at Amherst College and lives in Boston.
Published August 16, 2011 by Other Press. 353 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Vices

Publishers Weekly

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Douglas (The Catastrophist) delivers a probing and skillful examination of the conundrums of identity, with philosopher Oliver Vice providing the subject, and the unnamed narrator, Oliver's colleague and best friend, serving as the examiner.

Jun 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Vices


The unnamed character spends the book talking about his best friend, Oliver Vice.

Oct 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Vices

ForeWord Reviews

The dual irony of the narrator’s invisibility becomes apparent before long: although Oliver Vice is the character who physically vanishes from this novel, the nameless narrator is the character who is actually absent.

Aug 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Vices

Critical Mob

Erudite, coy, dark, and charming: to describe its protagonist Oliver Vice is to describe the prose of The Vices itself.

Apr 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Vices

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