Synopses & Reviews
A fast, frightening, and thrillingly contemporary novel about marriage and money that early reviewers are calling "powerful" (Booklist, starred review), "propulsive" (Publishers Weekly), "totally addictive" (Bookish), and "a novel of unrelenting tension" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
Here is one of the most engrossing, unnerving, and exhilarating novels in recent memory. It comes to us from Joe McGinniss Jr., whose first book, The Delivery Man, was a national bestseller that critics hailed as "searing" (The New York Times Book Review), "compelling" (The Washington Post), and "reminiscent of Joan Didion" (Janet Fitch). Now, after spending the better part of a decade at work, McGinniss returns with another viscerally absorbing look at the seductive—and destructive—cutting edge of modern life, this time through the lens of marriage.
Carousel Court is the story of Nick and Phoebe Maguire, a young couple who move cross-country to Southern California in search of a fresh start for themselves and their infant son following a trauma. But they arrive at the worst possible economic time. Instead of landing in a beachside property, Nick and Phoebe find themselves cemented into the dark heart of foreclosure alley, surrounded by neighbors being drowned by their underwater homes who set fire to their belongings, flee in the dead of night, and eye one another with suspicion while keeping shotguns by their beds. Trapped, broke, and increasingly desperate, Nick and Phoebe each devise their own plan to claw their way back into the middle class and beyond. Hatched under one roof, their two separate, secret agendas will inevitably collide.
Combining the excruciating honesty of Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road with the social urgency of George Packer’s The Unwinding, Carousel Court is a blistering and unforgettable vision of contemporary life. It has the ambition of our most serious literary work and the soul of a thriller, managing to be simultaneously sexy, scary, and powerfully moving. Most of all, it offers an unflinching portrait of modern marriage in a nation scarred by vanished jobs, abandoned homes, psychotropic cure-alls, infidelity via iPhone, and ruthless choices. No matter what kind of relationship you are in, it will leave you simultaneously gutted and grateful for your own good fortune—if perhaps curious what your partner is really up to on that electronic device across the living room.
In his first novel in a decade McGinniss Jr. (The Delivery Man) paints a bleak portrait of America on the downslide. Nick and Phoebe Maguire left Boston after Phoebe narrowly avoided a tragedy involving their infant son Jackson. Seeking a new start—Nick as a filmmaker for an Encino PR firm and Phoebe as a pharmaceutical rep—they move into Carousel Court a subdivision in the Los Angeles suburb of Serenos whose residents are leaving in droves casualties of the burst housing bubble. When Nick’s job offer falls through he signs on as a mover “trashing out foreclosed homes” for an outfit called EverythingMustGo! The self loathing Phoebe tiptoes the sharp edge of an addiction to prescription painkillers and an ill concealed affair with JW her demanding ex boss who jets in and out of the picture. The novel’s nearly 100 vignettes—many of them gems of concision and electric prose that lay bare the darker sides of Nick and Phoebe as well as the handful of coworkers and eccentric neighbors who swirl down the drain with them—mirror the discontent seething just beneath the surface of an ersatz American dream. The broad brushstrokes painting Southern California in chaos are unnerving and propulsive in their own right but McGinniss is at his best when describing with anthropological intensity the throes of a broken relationship. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Carousel Court showcases a domestic circus of the most compelling kind: a kaleidoscopic train-wreck of a marriage set ablaze by the bright white hyperreality of a California suburb in decline. Joe McGinniss Jr. writes with wit and scorching honesty about adultery, addiction, and financial ruin, never losing sight of his characters’ humanity and their fractured hope that redemption might be possible after all." Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found
"Harrowing, smart, wickedly accurate about the third world of the contemporary United States, and very well written." Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk about Kevin
"Propulsive....The novel’s nearly 100 vignettes—many of them gems of concision and electric prose that lay bare the darker sides of Nick and Phoebe, as well as the handful of coworkers and eccentric neighbors who swirl down the drain with them—mirror the discontent seething just beneath the surface of an ersatz American dream....McGinniss is at his best when describing, with anthropological intensity, the throes of a broken relationship." Publishers Weekly
"Powerful...May have some readers recalling Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming.'" Booklist (Starred Review)
"A novel of unrelenting tension...Phoebe is a lexicon of contradictions, a kind of update on Maria Wyeth of Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays. McGinniss also recalls Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust in depicting their road, Carousel Court, as a catalog of strangeness and dangers: from coyotes and marauding home invaders to weird neighbors and crying, screaming cicadas. McGinniss...injects it with an urgency, a sense of constant, inescapable threat that all adds up to a taut page-turner." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Joe McGinniss Jr. is the author of Carousel Court and The Delivery Man. He lives in Washington, DC, with his family.