“May we be forgiven,” an incantation, a prayer, the hope that somehow I come out of this alive. Was there ever a time you thought – I am doing this on purpose, I am fucking up and I don’t know why.

The book opens with these italicized lines, and I was instantly hooked. It’s a familiar situation. And Homes’ protagonist, Harold Silver, a noted Nixon scholar, is interesting. But in her quest to make the plot increasingly clever, Homes forgot to make it good. Harold’s complications become increasingly and purposefully (Homes is aiming for a level of comedy I never felt) absurd, and it takes the deus ex machine of a South African medical man to cure him of his ills. (Ah, a wise old black man saves the day.) Harold’s family is redefined. From one Thanksgiving to the next, he loses his job and his wife and saves himself.

Homes is a sharp writer. In her effort to satirize, she never winks, which is crucial. Still, at 480 pages, this one wasn’t worth it.

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