Many Are Invited
by Dennis Cuesta
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Pub Date 06 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 15 Jan 2023
A housewarming party ends in tragedy. . . Steve Galanos, a native Midwesterner, reflects on his time in Northern California during the 1990s, a time when the two-digit year emerged as the Y2K problem, the burgeoning Internet fueled the expansion of the New Economy, the dot-com bubble created unseen prosperity and real estate frenzies. Yet it’s a housewarming party, held in late 1999, that affects him the most.
At the request of John Goertz, a group of technology managers and executives gather in a conference room. Listening to the presentation is Steve Galanos, who is suspicious of Goertz’s approach and the dramatic way he describes the problem. Goertz tries to convince his audience that a disaster awaits them unless they immediately address the two-digit year in the company’s distributed systems and compiled code. It’s 1994, well before anyone has heard of the term, Y2K.
A promotion to run the newly-created year 2000 compliance program earns John more skepticism and envy from Steve, yet the two have much in common and soon become good friends. A few years later, John leaves for a startup and their lives trend in different directions.
By the time John cashes out from a successful IPO, gets married, and buys a house in Los Gatos, his friendship with Steve has waned. It’s at John’s housewarming party where latent animosity and lingering distrust finally come to a head.
A Note From the Publisher
“Cuesta limns a devilishly complex psychology of envy, which plumbs the peculiar relationship between love and loathing. . . [T]he ending is as unpredictable as it is thrilling, and the novel as a whole is a keen peek into a hollow culture.” — Kirkus
"[B]eguiling and suspenseful novel . . . Many Are Invited is a fascinating psychological novel about the disastrous consequences of meddling in the lives of others." —Foreword Clarion Reviews
"Many Are Invited hooked me right from the beginning with a hint of its sharp, climactic ending. . . Dennis Cuesta ensures every dot connects to make a flawless, bittersweet picture." —San Francisco Book Review
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 281 members
This is a brilliant and quick read. Without spoilers, it’s about friendship and the consequences of jealousy and greed. The story centers around a house warming party where you learn early on something tragic occurred. The time setting for the story is a flashback to the 90’s and was a reminder of all the dot com talk and Y2K technology fears that were discussed back then.
I loved the ending! Very unique and clever. Bravo!
Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of Many are Invited. This is my unbiased review.
Pub Date: October 6, 2022
An excellent retelling of the Great Gatsby set in the 90s during the dot com boom. Compelling storytelling and a fresh take on a classic make this a fast, fun read.
What a delightful surprise! This book was a short, fast read that I accomplished during a rare uninterrupted afternoon. I immediately felt drawn in to the story about Steve, who narrates what happened over the course of a a few years, centering around the last few months of 1999.
The backwards-story begins with Steve ruminating on what happened at a housewarming party in Dec. 1999. We then go back to see how his life unfolded regarding his relationships with his coworkers, his friend, John, Mary (John's girlfriend), and Lauren (Mary's roommate). The author's descriptions about life in the late 1990's includes details about Y2K and the tech boom in Silicon Valley.
The jealousies that arise in Steve and his friends culminate in a tragedy. Who is at fault? This is more of an introspective question than a mystery. There are themes resonating with The Great Gatsby and The Brothers Karamazov, which are referenced in the book.
Sometimes a book hits you just right, and this one did. I recommend it as a fast read (took me about 4 hours) and one that while on the surface might seem shallow, is actually deep with meaning.
I'd like to thank NetGalley and Celestial Eyes Press for the Advanced Readers Copy of Many Are Invited by Dennis Cuesta. The synopsis and the cover of the book had me intrigued, so I was ecstatic to be selected to read and review this book ahead of its expected publication of October 6, 2022.
The storyline for Many Are Invited is exactly what I thought it would be based on the synopsis. The first few pages didn't immediately suck me in, but once I got a few chapters into the book, the tale really became interesting. I couldn't read fast enough to see what would happen. I had completely forgotten about Y2K and how many people panicked about it, so there was some nostalgia in reading about that event.
Like most books, there were some characters that were likable and some that weren't. The character development was great for the most part, and I enjoyed the internal dialogue of the main character, Steve. I felt like Steve's perceptions of the early to mid twenties crowd compared to his perception of people in their mid-thirties was spot on. These two age groups are in such different places in their lives. I felt like Dennis Cuesta did a great job of characterizing how John and Steve talked in private about women. I've overhead men in passing that discussed women in that same way . . . not to say that all men are like that though.
The length of Many Are Invited was perfect . . . not too long and not too short. It left me wanting more! I loved the references to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and some of the similarities between the two stories. If you've read both of these books, I think you'll see what I mean, and I don't want to give anything away. The ending of the novel was bittersweet, which is the only thing I didn't care for, but it was concluded in away that didn't leave me hanging.
All in all, I absolutely loved Many Are Invited by Dennis Cuesta and gave it four out of five stars. I can't wait to read the other book Dennis Cuesta has written and hope he writes many more novels. This is a book I will definitely be recommending to the book club I belong to.
This is the review posted to my Goodreads account: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4940061516. Also, there were no reviews on Amazon, and I tried to add this review there but it said it wasn't eligible.
First of all, I would like to thank Celestial Eyes Press, Dennis Cuesta, and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC free for an honest review. And as such, this review is much longer than some of my other book reviews.
There aren't many books that I will sit down and binge read. This was one of the few. The story isn't too long, nor too short and can easily be read in an evening. I had read the intro and first chapters earlier, before delving into the main story, starting at Chapter Two. I also made sure that I didn't know much about the story ahead of time, so that I could provide an unbiased review (though I do have some opinions which I have included).
With that said, I want to say that I really enjoyed the time period (the late 1990s right before Y2K hit), the writing style (simple, not overly flowery/wordy) but with enough details along with the hook and flashback telling, plus it being reminiscent of an author I came to enjoy as an adult--F. Scott Fitzgerald. Plus, the title had piqued my interest.
Basically, we are told the story of a Midwesterner, Steve Galanos, who has come to Silicon Valley (Northern California) and is working at a phone company, during the time when dot.coms and the Internet were the next "big thing" just before the year 2000 (or Y2K).
Trying not to be too biased, I will admit that I had a little bit in common with our protagonist, Steve, also having grown up in the Midwest and gone out to the Bay Area (where I worked with a database company) around the same time.
I too, wondered about the what-ifs behind Y2K until the last year or two of the 1990s. Many even thought it could be the end of the world. I wasn't quite that concerned, but I did understand the implications. Basically, for those who might not be as familiar with what was meant by Y2K--it had to do with the two-digit year changing the way computers understood the change over to a new century. Perhaps that's why I really enjoyed reading and looking back at that time. I can't recall reading many books using that for the backdrop of a story.
The hook for me was how the story started out as Steve's looking back at something tragic that had happened to him, so I wanted to know what happened and what was meant by "The invitation remained hidden in nineteenth-century Russia for over twenty years." This story is told as a flashback (sometimes an overdone literary device, but this was, in my opinion, done well!) We learn that some tragedy has Steve trying to deal with the aftermath and the resulting story is what he wrote in a journal to try and deal with his guilt from a dinner party that went horribly wrong and the events that lead up to that eventful night.
Steve meets a man named John Goertz who came to Steve's company (1994) to convince them of the need to prepare for what will happen at the end of the decade and new century. Convinced that Goertz is right, the company creates a year 2000 (Y2K) compliance program where the skeptical and envious Steve works with John. The two eventually become friends when they find out they have some things in common. However, John leaves the company a few years later for a startup and the their lives split off in different directions. John, through coincidence or fate, meets his future wife through a dare that Steve makes and John follows through, even though the intention had been a co-worker instead (both of whom were roommates/friends for some time). From there, the friendship diminishes further; John has made his fortune through an IPO while Steve continues working for the same company. Despite different decisions, these four friends' lives (Steve, John, Mary, and Lauren, the former co-worker) come to a head the night of the housewarming party for John and his wife Mary.
I mentioned about F. Scott Fitzgerald earlier and I would like to say that some may like this story because it is a bit of a re-telling of the Great Gatsby (perhaps with a touch of the unexpected, in my opinion, with some Hitchcock--if you like those twists and turns with surprise endings). I know many who never liked The Great Gatsby, myself included in high school. I had a hard time understanding the meaning involving the Egg--that's all I remember from then. But having re-read the story several times sense, I have come to really like the story.
The Great Gatsby and Many Are Invited both take a simple theme about jealousy and friendship. Many Are Invited creates a simple but engaging story using a back drop to end of a decade leading into a new century with some concern of how a computer glitch over two digits could possibly have a devastating effect on the world, not only the business world. The Great Gatsby took place in 1922 (four years after the Great War, aka World War I) in a time which there were many uncertainties about America and the world at the time. Many Are Invited does use direct references to The Great Gatsby, such as the character F. Jake, who we learn has a connection to F. Scott Fitzgerald and why he is called F. Jake. And a conversation between Steve and Joanna talks about the Owl Eyes, as well as provides a take on the relationship between Nick and Daisy from The Great Gatsby.
I read this for the story and wasn't trying to look for hidden meanings, making it a very enjoyable read. Not many books do get 5 stars with me, but I feel this book, for me, was a solid 4 stars. I may re-read Many Are Invited again, to see if there were other literary elements/devices hidden between the pages.
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