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Manhattan Meltdown

Manhattan Meltdown

A Novella

By Frank Lentricchia

Two men, no longer young, and friends from childhood, fly to NYC—each with a secret purpose unknown to the other. They arrive just as COVID-19 explodes across the city’s 5 boroughs. One of the men (white) has come to Manhattan to confront a theater producer who has made a coercive offer to his wife. The other man (black, former All-American football star) plans to confront and take revenge on his white girlfriend from college days—who left him for a white man. As they pursue their goals they are caught up in the hunt for America’s most famous criminal. The black man, seeking revenge, makes a surprising turn. The white man, who has taken his confrontation with the theater producer to criminal length, may never leave Manhattan to return to his family. Manhattan Meltdown introduces a series of inter-connected characters who, ever as their lives are impacted by lethal disease, must continue to struggle with more conventional personal crises: uterine cancer, imperiled romantic relationships, and the deteriorations of advancing old age.


Guernica World Editions (World Prose)


100 pages |

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This melancholy novella reads like a Law & Order episode … successfully conjures up a city constricting upon itself and the feeling of asphyxiation it provokes in its characters. An effective one-sitting crime story with an existential bent.

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About the author

Frank Lentricchia was born to working-class parents in Utica, New York, in 1940. He earned his M.A. from Duke University in 1963, and his Ph.D. in 1966. His first two books were about modern poetry, and he then began to write more about literary theory, publishing his ground-breaking books in the early 1980s. Lentricchia served as the editor of two book series, one for The University of Chicago Press (The Wellek Library Lectures), and one for the University of Wisconsin Press (The Wisconsin Project on American Writing.) During these years, he began to drift from his previous work in theory. Lentricchia's first non-scholarly book, The Edge of Night, was published in 1994, and he soon followed with his much-noted essay in Lingua Franca, "Last Will and Testament of an Ex-Literary Critic," his farewell to certain types of academic criticism and theory. Though he did not completely abandon literary comment, Lentricchia from then on devoted himself to fiction. To date, he has published 12 books of fiction.