Synopses & Reviews
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Jernigan introduced David Gates as a novelist of the highest order. "Full of dark truths and biting humor," wrote Frederick Exley, "a brilliant novel [that] will be read for a long time." After that blackly comic handbook of self-destruction whose antihero shoulders up to such crucial American figures as Bellows Herzog, Updikes Harry Angstrom, Hellers Bob Slocum, Percys Binx Bolling and Irvings Garp Gates's new novel investigates the essential truths of a marriage à la mode. Doug and Jean Willis fit the newly classic, recognizable and seemingly normal variety: struggling against a riptide of the daily commute, the mortgages, the latchkey child-rearing and the country house, as well as the hopes and desires from which all of this grew. In accordance with their long-standing agreement, Doug embarks from their Westchester home on a leave of absence from the PR job that had ineluctably become his life, while Jean contends with both her own job and their two children. Over a two-month period hell spruce up the familys alternative universe up north in rural Preston Falls; shell deal with her end of the bargain, and her worries about the survival of the family. But then domesticity hits the brick wall of private longings and nightmarish twists of fate. A surprising, comic, horrifying and always engrossing novel, charged with the responsibilities of middle age and with the abiding power of love, however disappointed told with great artistry, pitch-perfect understanding and fierce compassion.
"The strong, sad, disturbingly true second novel by the author of Jernigan speaks in two voices: one caustic and mockingly funny, the other more thoughtful but ruefully humorous.... [an] absorbing and sure novel." Malcolm Johnson, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A novel that's the funniest, sharpest, most strangely exciting book about men and women in a long time." Tom Prince, Maxim
"Gates is a masterful chronicler of the dynamics of a family meltdown." Publishers Weekly
"It's very well done, with dialogue that rings true and all the accumulated nastiness that erupts as families disintegrate." The Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
David Gates writes about books and music for Newsweek. He lives in New York City and in a small town upstate.