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Review of ‘The Portable Veblen’

That one of the recurring characters in The Portable Veblen is a squirrel tells you much about the experience of reading Elizabeth McKenzie’s clever second novel. Veblen, the 30-year-old protagonist who chats with the squirrel, describes herself as an “independent behaviorist,” translates for the Norwegian Diaspora Project in her spare time and “still favored baggy…

Interview with Elizabeth McKenzie

Elizabeth McKenzie’s new novel, The Portable Veblen, is a delightful story about 30-year-old Veblen Amundsen-Hovda, a single woman who makes her own clothes and works as a temp at the Stanford School of Medicine. There, she meets and falls in love with Paul Vreeland, a 34-year-old researcher who has designed a device that will help medics perform emergency craniotomies on the front lines of combat. The book is a humorous, multilayered tale of Veblen and Paul’s engagement, their relationships with their respective families and a pharmaceutical conglomerate of dubious ethics that has expressed interest in the device Paul wants to test.

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