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The Leading Indicatorsby Gregg Easterbrook
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Perrotta meets David Brooks in a powerful modern parable about one American family's fall from grace during the recession
Margo and Tom Helot have the perfect life. He works in finance; she's an enterprising stay-at-home mom. They inhabit a fully redecorated home complete with expensive his-and-hers cars in the drive and situated in the peaceful, leafy suburb of a major American city. Day after day delivery trucks arrive bearing packages from the kinds of places all Americans wish they received packages: Williams-Sonoma, Bergdorf Goodman, Villeroy & Boch. The family is rounded out by two delightful children with good grades, well on their way to top colleges.
Then it all comes crashing down around them: Tom's boss reveals that due to "regrettable oversights," their high-flying company actually was a fraud. Forced into the job market just as the Dow plummets and unemployment starts to spike, Tom is buffeted from one failing company to the next. The Helots lose their house, then their apartment. As the powerful at the very top roll in government subsidized bonuses, while everyone else falters, Tom and Margo find themselves adrift in “an American economy that now produces shattered lives with the same fervor it once produced Oldsmobiles.” Ultimately, they must face a terrible choice to save their family's future. This compelling and insightful novel from seasoned social commentator Gregg Easterbrook strikes at the heart of the American moment.
"The allegorical fall of a typical American family offers fodder for a philosophical examination of national values in this compelling but flat novel from Easterbrook (Here and Now) that kicks things off with a bang, literally, as a UPS truck and a FedEx truck crash in Margo Helot's driveway delivering goods that 'sustain high-end lifestyle.' Soon, her husband Tom's business partner bankrupts their company, rendering Tom's numerous shares worthless. Margo assumes that their daughters' lessons (tutors, fencing, soccer, basketball) and treats will continue on pace, while Tom takes short-term work as economic collapse looms. But their dwindling cash reserves force them to sell their home and bring them to question their material lifestyle until Tom becomes a delivery man, using the long, dull hours in the truck to develop new ideas about the state of the nation: 'Suppose the minimum annual income were ,000'; 'What seemed to the political and media elite like a 2008 financial freeze that caused rising unemployment was actually two unrelated events.' The polemical moments add intelligent context, but distance readers from Margo and Tom's emotional struggles by reducing their troubles to textbook examples of American excess. Still, the Helots' desperate straits will resonate considering the current recession. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Tom Perotta meets David Brooks in a powerful modern parable about one American family's fall from grace during and after the recession
Margo and Tom Helot have the perfect life. They inhabit a fully redecorated home situated in the peaceful, leafy suburb of a major American city. Their family is rounded out by two delightful children well on their way to achieving perfect Ivy League applications. Everything has turned out more or less as they'd hoped and expected it would. Until, that is, it all comes crashing down around them when Tom's boss reveals that their company is bankrupt. Forced into the job market just as the Dow plummets and unemployment starts to spike, Tom finds himself buffeted by the winds of misfortune, bouncing from one failing company to the next and towing his family into a maelstrom of debt and financial insecurity. With nowhere else to turn, he and Margo must make the ultimate choice to save their family's future. This compelling and insightful novel from seasoned social commentator Gregg Easterbrook strikes at the heart of the American family.
About the Author
GREGG EASTERBROOK is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and The Washington Monthly and a columnist for ESPN.com.
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