The Château: A Novel

  • Review
By – February 7, 2018

Paul Goldberg’s new nov­el, The Chateau, is a pow­er­ful and dark com­e­dy that unfolds in the two weeks lead­ing up to the inau­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. It is also a briskly paced crime nov­el fes­tooned with pithy observations.

The book begins, Let us not focus on the events that sent Zbignew Wron­s­ki over the rail­ing of a forty-third-sto­ry bal­cony of the Grand Dux Hotel on South Ocean Dri­ve in Hol­ly­wood, Flori­da, on Jan­u­ary 5, 2017.” Instead, the sto­ry cen­ters on William M. Katzene­len­bo­gen, a sci­ence reporter at The Wash­ing­ton Post who has been fired from his job and hopes to sal­vage his career by launch­ing a one-man inves­ti­ga­tion into the death of Wron­s­ki, his col­lege roommate.

Per­haps the best part of this acer­bic and wit­ty book is the ongo­ing bat­tle and ver­bal spar­ring between Katzene­len­bo­gen and his estranged father, a poet and small-time crook who will do any­thing to wrest con­trol of the schem­ing and cor­rupt con­do board at a crum­bling Flori­da high-rise, the Château Sedan Neuve.

Vod­ka plays a promi­nent role in the action. After you have read this book, you might be unable to look at a bot­tle of Grey Goose with­out a know­ing smile on your face.

Gold­berg skill­ful­ly depicts the fiery, no-holds-barred con­do board bat­tles with every­thing from slap­stick rou­tines to clever repar­tee. His ruth­less, razor sharp satire of Russ­ian immi­grant behav­ior may remind some read­ers of Gary Shteyn­gart. Under­neath the humor, how­ev­er, there is a seri­ous vein of intro­spec­tion that pro­vides the grav­i­tas required to make this a very worth­while read.

Born in Budapest, Tom­my Schnur­ma­ch­er is a child of Holo­caust sur­vivors. An award-win­ning broad­cast­er, he was the host of a 3‑hour dai­ly radio talk show in Mon­tre­al, Cana­da. He has also worked as a dai­ly gos­sip colum­nist sto­ry­teller at the Wood­stock Book­fest and — oh, yes — he was a babysit­ter for John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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