STARRED REVIEW
May 19, 2015

A coming-of-age story for the new millennium

By Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite
Growing up may be hard to do under the best of circumstances, but for two best friends at the dawn of the millennium, it's outright agony.
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Growing up may be hard to do under the best of circumstances, but for two best friends at the dawn of the millennium, it's outright agony.

The would-be heroes of The War of the Encyclopaedists, Mickey Montauk and Halifax Corderoy, are best buddies bonded by a shared summer in Europe and their penchant for throwing deeply ironic high-concept parties. During the summer of 2004, the two are preparing to head off to Boston for grad school, but on the eve of their farewell blowout bash, Mickey receives news that he will be commanding a squad deploying to Iraq instead. That night triggers a series of events where the decisions each young man makes will ricochet through the following year, some with incendiary consequences, and each threatening to tear their friendship apart the way geography never could. In the months that follow, as Mickey and Corderoy struggle to bear the weight of the mantle of true responsibility that neither one truly wishes for (nor feels entirely equipped to carry), they keep in touch by editing a series of escalating Wikipedia entries based on themselves that, like Mickey and Corderoy, begin as something glib and flippant and mature into something more.

 

Written by two real-life friends, Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite, The War of the Encyclopaedists, is an explosive debut. It’s edgy and erudite, not to mention remarkably self-assured for a first novel. It perfectly captures the aimlessness as well as the bluster and bravado of youth, and though it does not ever pull its punches—particularly when discussing the brutality of war—it is sharply sentimental too. The War of the Encyclopaedists works not only as an excellent piece of fiction about war in the 21st century, but also as an incredibly timely and compassionate coming-of-age story for the new millennium; Robinson and Kovite have authoritatively homed in on the specific anxieties and alienation that afflict the latest generation of twenty-somethings attempting to find their place in the world. Daring and ambitious, The War of the Enyclopaedists is an essential piece of fiction for readers of all ages. 

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The War of the Encyclopaedists

The War of the Encyclopaedists

By Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite
Scribner
ISBN 9781476775425

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