A tale where there’s never enough room, where nothing but the essential lasts, where there aren’t morals so much as morality.
Terrace Story: A Novel by Hilary Leichter. HarperCollins, 208 pp., $28.
New York is a long line of people at a party asking how much you pay for rent. This brief exchange, as quick as it takes to say your name and how you know the hostess, is underwritten by the mutual suspicion that everyone is dealing with a steal. We pay an obscene amount, but we jumped through a lot of hoops for it. We pay very little, but we still lack so much. Or worst of all: We stumbled on a place whose cost made the most sense, but someone first had to die. Always, the admission of what luck, what burden is placed elsewhere and unseen, ends the conversation. The two parties move on, finding other ways to like or hate the other and determining on that basis whether the person with the best deal really deserves it. This opening talk is small because it matters so little, when it comes to a person, exactly how they wrangled wherever it is they happen to live.
To judge from her novels, Hilary Leichter does not believe any talk is small, knows instead that every scrap of…