THE MERITOCRACY QUARTET
by Jeffrey Lewis
‘Lewis is a master.’ – Washington Post
‘Lewis’ memories portray a modern, American life’ – San Francisco Book Review
Jeffrey Lewis is an American author whose most influential and wildly popular writing went unread by his many devoted fans and supporters. Instead, they watched ‘Hill Street Blues’ in their millions, the revolutionary series that introduced an unprecedented realism to American television. Lewis’s name appeared in its writing credits more than eighty times.
Following the show’s conclusion, Lewis withdrew to write novels. Suddenly, his rich and complex relationship with American culture, upon which his writing has drawn as deeply as it has influenced the contemporary landscape of American narrative, required a new kind of telling. In an ambitious departure, Lewis conceived a four-novel series, each of which would follow the leaders of American culture through a decade of their lives, thereby tracing the very substance of America’s contemporary history through its unfolding. The series is a sweeping meditation on his generation, and where it has led America, from the sixties to the turn of the century.
For the first time the four novels are brought together as originally intended. Set against the backdrop of four decades of a changing contemporary American landscape, Lewis’s characters sweep in and out of the narrative, reflecting the passage of time and the rise of different social-cultural ideals and influence. The four novels are a testament to America’s changing personality – each seeking to define it for themselves. For America is the central character and the quartet is the song of one generation passing through it. From the tragedy of wealth and potential, to the search for meaning in a chaotic world, to the highs and lows of celebrity, full circle for tragedy to begin again. Each book is a life and a death, each a new start and a finality. The Meritocracy Quartet is a breathtaking panorama and an expression of how and why, but more than this it is a beautiful story.
Jeffrey Lewis has won a string of awards for his novels including the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. He has also received two Emmy Awards and the Writer’s Guild Award for his work as a television writer and producer.
September 2011| £12.99| 747 pp| Hardback | 9781907822049