S. & S. Feb. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781982189730. $27.99. F
Frumkin’s (The Comedown) new novel proves that in America, anyone can become anything, including a corporate con man. Ezra Green doesn’t have much going for him. He’s small of stature, snaggle-toothed, and well on his way to being legally blind. When he’s sent to Last Chance Camp, the last stop before juvie, he meets Orson Ortman—charming, handsome, naturally charismatic, everything Ezra isn’t. The two become friends, eventual lovers, and partners in a series of larger and larger schemes that culminate in the creation of NuLife, a New Age company that promises consumers a lifetime of guaranteed bliss. Front man Orson and brains-of-the-operation Ezra are soon running a multimillion-dollar combination pyramid scheme and cult. Wanting to please Orson, the unrequited love of his life, Ezra takes bigger and bigger risks until everything goes completely off the rails.
VERDICT A Gatsby for the 21st century, this book offers a satiric look at corporate-think, the desire for easy fixes, and the dissolution of the American Dream. Written with a dry, tongue-in-cheek wit, the novel also explores how the desire for love and connection can cause a kind of obliviousness. Perfect for fans of social satire and literary fiction.
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