The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Matthews
Brendan Mathews chose 1939 as his setting because this year in history is echoed in the present. America was in an economic slump, there was a refugee crisis and fascism was a rising trend, worldwide. I thought about this many times as I read.
The narrative centres on three Irish brothers and their shared aspirations, set against the incredible cityscape of New York. One of the brothers is an escaped convict (living under an assumed name and identity), another is a seminary drop-out (with an imaginary poet as his companion), and they live in the home of their jazz musician brother. In the week of their arrival in the Big Apple, the brothers’ adventures lead them through jazz joints, warehouses and through a terrible game of catch-and-run with a hitman. With its ear for dialect and film-noir vision, this novel is ambitious and warm-hearted. As he builds towards the final sensational scene, Mathews prepares us with intricate back-stories and apt descriptions of reckless youth, love and hope. Set in a world in transition, reminding us there is nothing new in the world, this novel allows us to imagine what authors might later write about 2017.
For fans of Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis – and for readers that enjoy a good old-fashioned romp through city lights.