A GQ Best Book of the Month • A New York Post Must-Read Book • A Flavorwire Book of the Week • A New York Daily News Can't-Put-Down Novel
“[Parish] has got chops, and a feel for dialogue, and is a talent in the making.” —Bill Buford, The Wall Street Journal
“Read this book in a beach chair. . . . [A] worldy and propulsive debut.”—GQ
An exhilarating novel of reinvention, friendship, and ambition—from the Jersey Shore to St. Andrews in Scotland
Tom Alison has it all within his reach. He’s smart, handsome, and about to graduate from a prestigious East Coast boarding school. After that it’s off to the Ivy League and then a job on Wall Street, alongside the power brokers he’s been watching from a distance as the working-class son of a single mom. And then the very life his mother worked so hard to escape catches up with him when he gets busted selling drugs.
Lucky for Tom, there are places for boys and girls with ruined reputations. First, he returns to his roots on the Jersey Shore, reconnecting with a hard-living crew and cementing a bond with his new friend Clare Savage—the son of a recently disgraced financier. The two boys spend their summer surfing and partying. When fall arrives, they head to St. Andrews University in Scotland, a haven for Americans in need of a second chance and a favorite of the British ruling class. Tom and Clare escape to Scotland together, but it’s Tom who discovers a world shaped by even more powerful forces of greed and ambition than the one he left behind. Sucked into a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and status, Tom learns what it takes to break the rules—and how we can be broken by them.
Driven by a cast of young men and women living in an age of riotous prosperity, Down the Shore is an unflinching and unforgettable story of youth steeped in excess. Stan Parish has crafted a gripping novel that masterfully captures the lives of fallen financiers and the people they bring down with them—and reminds us that not even an ocean can separate us from our family, our friends, or our past.
This smoothly written coming-of-age debut by former GQ editor Parish is filled with dynamic but flawed young characters. Acquiring a fat bank account and pursuing hedonistic excess are 18-year-old Tom Alison's main goals in life. He is a graduating high school senior, but his arrest for smalltime dope dealing spurs Columbia University to yank its admission offer. Tom helps his spunky single mother, Diane, run her Princeton, N.J., catering service while waiting to attend St. Andrews University in Scotland and befriends schoolmate Clare Savage, the son of a financier fleeing prosecution for insider trading. Clare decides to follow Tom to St. Andrews, where they have a mutual friend studying fashion design, but before leaving, the two take a side trip to Long Beach Island to visit Tom's best friend, another drug dealer. Once enrolled at St. Andrews as an economics major, Tom, true to form, takes up a hard-partying lifestyle fueled by cocaine binges. When Clare's father, Michael, shows up, Tom sees his big chance to make a connection with the disgraced but still-powerful figure. Readers may not find these characters either sympathetic or particularly interesting, but Parish shows promise as a storyteller, moving the plot along at a good clip.