Cooperative Lives

Fiction - Literary
351 Pages
Reviewed on 06/09/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Patrick Finegan was born during the latter half of the Eisenhower Administration and graduated during the Carter and Reagan Administrations from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Law School and Graduate School of Business. He worked more than thirty years in law, corporate finance, management consulting and risk management. He has a wife and grown daughter and has lived in the New York metropolitan area his entire professional life – most of it in the same residential cooperative. Cooperative Lives is his first work of fiction.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In an upmarket apartment block opposite Central Park in 2012, the residents are neighbors but know very little about one another. Although they are aware that there are some famous people and residents with murky pasts around them, they know little else, even though they share a postcode. The residents have their own priorities dealing with their complicated lives. However, one fateful day is going to change that. An accident involving an M7 bus is about to bring these distant neighbors into each other's lives, from the well-known writer who resides on the fourteenth floor to the lawyer in 8B. Who are the people that you innocently pass by each day as you go about your daily routine? What goes on behind closed doors may surprise you, if only you take the time to strike up a conversation with the strangers you call neighbors.

Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan offers a deliciously rich, intricate plot with so many twists and turns that will take you completely by surprise. Each of the six main characters was extremely well-developed with such a detailed backstory and little personality quirks which made them so realistic and relatable. The storyline moves along at a good pace and is a great example of how an action by one character causes a ripple effect that affects the other characters. The story has everything I look for in a fiction novel; espionage, intrigue, tension, corruption and a fantastic display of real human behavior. Although this is a work of fiction, I couldn't help but draw some similarities to recent US political history. Overall, this is a perfect example of character interaction and development. I think you have to be a writer yourself to really appreciate how the author has entwined such strong sub-plots together so effortlessly.

Joel R. Dennstedt

For true readers, the most satisfying aspect of the somewhat elite classification Literary Fiction, especially as applied to such a finely wrought example as Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan, is found within its singularly gorgeous and evocative term: Literary. A reader expects so much more from literary fiction than from its less culturally evolved siblings. And not just in the quality of writing. One expects more depth, more complexity, more resonance, more beauty. One expects, and deserves, a novel like Cooperative Lives. That is to say: if you are looking for a book to savor, to appreciate the writing as much as the storyline and plot, to satisfy your love for words as much as existential observations or distractions, look no further.

Cooperative Lives is the somewhat dual title (literal and metaphorical, or at least, suggestible) of Patrick Finegan’s complex tapestry detailing the interconnected life threads of occupants in a New York City housing cooperative. Mostly long term residents, mostly old, mostly normal but eccentric (or worse), living in the second decade of 2000. If that sounds complicated, it is. If it sounds chaotic, it is not. At least, not as handled expertly and deftly by Mr. Finegan with his precision plotting and development. Not to mention the ingenious time-arrows heading up each chapter. And certainly not to mention the plot twist to end all plot twists, even though subtly alluded to throughout. Although tangentially colliding like billiard balls on the break, one never loses a quick perception of whose life touches whose, nor how, nor when. Seriously, this gives inordinate clarity to what should be a chaotic book. That each of these lives comes to matter so much in such a rich denouement also marks the true mastery of its author.

K.C. Finn

Cooperative Lives is a work of dramatic literary fiction penned by author Patrick Finegan, which focuses on a slice of life from New York City’s recent past, the year 2013. In the concrete jungle of one of the world’s busiest cities, nobody knows anyone and the idea of community has gone out of the window with each passing day’s profit margins rising. But in one prestigious Manhattan address, the lid is lifted to show the real lives of the people who live there. We feel their histories in the walls and witness how their stories slowly connect to one another in a web of connections, making them truly cooperative in the building in which they live.

A delicate mix of realism and drama is at work in author Patrick Finegan’s sweeping novel of comingled lives and the concept of the relative stranger next door. I really enjoyed the mix of characters, and the commitment to their development as individuals is what gives this novel its true literary quality. Plot-wise, it is a test of faith to read through each individual experience until the strands slowly come together, and the conclusion and overall effect of the book were satisfying when the journey was complete. There is a nostalgic feel to the work, despite it only being set a few short years ago, one which gives it the grandeur of the past at the same time as dealing with the real human issues of present daily life. Cooperative Lives is a must-read for fans of unique literary character study.

Romuald Dzemo

Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan is an interesting novel with exciting characters and a well-developed setting in New York. The story brings together characters living in a cooperative building in New York and shows the unusual connection between their lives when a disaster strikes. A financial manager attempts to fix a mistake and it leads to public scandal. What follows is a tale of intrigue, international espionage, hidden secrets, heartbreaks, and lives entangled in ways no one ever suspected. Each character is unique, defined by a painful past, a secret, or a tragedy. Wally is divorced and still mourns the loss of Alya, his daughter. Wally’s wife is being blackmailed by Wally’s boss. Sheldon Vogel is an accountant who makes an error in a client’s account, but he doesn’t have the chance to fix it in time because he falls and is in a coma. Now the things he said half-unconsciously are about to cost the residents of the building a lot.

This is an intelligently plotted novel with twists and surprises the reader won’t see coming. The characters are connected to each other in a bizarre way. In this narrative, a simple mistake will expose the darkest secrets of residents of an apartment and their neighbors. Each character is elaborately developed and the setting is impeccably done. The interconnection and the shared history of the characters are interesting, but their connections are about to lead to something that could change their lives irreversibly. Can there be clarity before things get out of control? Patrick Finegan writes in prose that is exciting and atmospheric and knows how to develop backstory without distracting readers from the main plot points. The conflict is multilayered and I loved the way the author “shows” rather than “explains” the elements of the conflict. Cooperative Lives is a novel that is very interesting, infused with realism and humanity.

Edith Wairimu

Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan follows the lives of a group of influential people that live in the same co-op building in New York. Their lives on the surface appear mundane or even normal but a closer look reveals an intriguing tapestry of thoughts, conversations, and events. Even though their lives appear separate and, in some cases, they seem like they barely know each other, they have more in common than could have been predicted at the beginning of the plot. Different themes emerge; few are predictable as many are unexpected if not shocking, including those revolving around varying political opinions, tragic events such as death, fraud accusations, and espionage.

The storyline in Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan moves back and forth between different timelines covering the present and the past. Episodes cover the changes that occur with different characters in the story. Some lose loved ones while others are tossed and turned by life’s tides throughout their careers and family lives. Each character has their own set of problems they have to handle. Best of all is the development of the characters in the book. The characters’ opinions, thoughts, and perspectives are included, giving each a unique place and role in the work. Finegan does a great job of breaking the tension with humor. Language is also used effectively to capture the characters’ emotions that vary from frustration, anger, grief and the occasional incidences of joy. Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan is skilfully written with its believable characters, suspenseful scenes, and gripping events.