This strange and twisted tale opens on Thanksgiving of probably “last year” when the not so All-American Silver family attempts a traditional feast. The story is told from the 1st person point of view of Harry Silver, a very confused and unhappy, but fundamentally decent man.
Then right after Christmas Harry’s brother George smashes into another vehicle injuring a young boy and killing his parents. George is also injured, as well as going or being a bit over the edge psychologically, and is put in the hospital. While George is recuperating Harry manages to land in bed with his wife Jane while Claire, Harry’s wife, is conveniently visiting family in China. George sneaks out of hospital, finds the wayward couple n flagrant delicto and fatally smashes her head in with a table lamp. So George goes to jail and from there to a mental hospital.
Back to Harry – the 1st person, George’s brother, is a Nixon scholar (this is very important in the book) and it falls to him to take care of everything, George’s two 12 year-old kids, his house, his dog, etc. while his own wife, Claire, files for a divorce, he has a mild stroke and the college fires him. Seeking relief (I guess) Harry gets moderately obsessed with Internet sex for awhile (and meets some interesting women), but his main obsession is Nixon and the book he’s working on about the late president. Harry knows he is guilty for all of George’s troubles.
All of this and a lot more happens within the first 25% of the book. To say that it’s fast-paced is an understatement. I was never sure where it was going at any point, it seemed to be right on the verge of spinning out of control, but never quite did – not for me anyway.
The theme could be related to the nature of mental illness and where is the line? A parallel between Nixon and madness? How to have a happy family? There is something in there but …
At about 50 % I got bored. At that point the story just seemed to be chasing its own tail. But I stuck with it and was rewarded shortly thereafter, reconnecting as the story continued it’s crazy loops and twists. I think there might have been a tiny wee foreshadowing regarding a twinkle of humanity, of dignity, of grace, of love – something.