White Elephant

Harper. Mar. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9780062857750. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062857774. F
DEBUT Willard Park is a charming suburb of Washington, DC, with a small-town flavor and a simmering stew of growing resentments. Tree-lined streets and 100-year-old Sears catalog homes are under attack by Nick Cox, a transplanted Southern builder and developer with a thirst for tasteless, ostentatious McMansions. Ted and Allison Miller are sandwiched between the oversized abode of Cox and his hapless wife, Kaye, on one side, and the White Elephant, so dubbed by the locals, a monstrosity Nick is building-to-sell on the other side. Ted is obsessed with the trees being lost in all the construction and the mysterious destruction of other beloved trees throughout the town. Allison, a photographer working on a book of her town, despairs of Ted's dormant libido. Add to the growing tensions that spill over into the community is the disturbing friendship between the two couples' teen daughters. Debut novelist Langsdorf's sure hand lays bare the secrets and hypocrisies of 21st-century American communities hell-bent on preserving what may never have been as they stumble awkwardly toward the light of what could be with just a touch of perspective.
VERDICT Funny, spot-on satire relevant in today's divisive noise-machine of battling egos.

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