Sewer, Gas & Electric

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
13
Free sample

A satire of a surreal technocratic future by the national-bestselling author of Bad Monkeys: “Dizzyingly readable” (Thomas Pynchon).
 
High above Manhattan, android and human steelworkers are constructing a new Tower of Babel for billionaire Harry Gant, as a monument to humanity’s power to dream. In the festering sewers below, a darker game is afoot: a Wall Street takeover artist has been murdered, and Gant’s crusading ex-wife, Joan Fine, has been hired to find out why, in this wild romp by the acclaimed author of Fool on the Hill and Lovecraft Country.
 
The year is 2023, and Ayn Rand has been resurrected and bottled in a hurricane lamp to serve as Joan’s assistant; an eco-terrorist named Philo Dufrense travels in a pink-and-green submarine designed by Howard Hughes; a Volkswagen Beetle is possessed by the spirit of Abbie Hoffman; Meisterbrau, a mutant great white shark, is running loose in the sewers beneath Times Square; and a one-armed 181-year-old Civil War veteran joins Joan and Ayn in their quest for the truth. All of them, and many more besides, are about to be caught up in a vast conspiracy involving Walt Disney, J. Edgar Hoover, and a mob of homicidal robots . . .
 
“[An] SF roller-coaster satirizing the horrors of our nascent technocracy . . . Told with breezy good humor, this exuberantly silly tale will find an audience among admirers of the day-glo surrealism of Steve Erickson and the tangled conspiracy theories of David Foster Wallace.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“A turbocharged neo-Dickensian hot rod [with] plenty of intellectual horsepower.” —Neal Stephenson
 
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About the author

Matt Ruff is the author of two other novels, Fool on the Hill and Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, which won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Lisa Gold.
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3.5
13 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9780802198457
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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In his brilliant new novel, the first since the widely enjoyed Getting Over Homer, Mark
O'Donnell takes us on a wild and funny tour through the Christmas season's ultimate challenge: the day of too many parties.

It's Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve in Manhattan--five days from the holiday Ground Zero--but Tad Leary, the most confused man on earth, doesn't know whether to celebrate or go crazy. He's just been fired, he's about to be evicted from his sublet, he's getting nowhere on his overdue folklore thesis, "Social Hierarchies of Imaginary Places," and on top of everything else--or rather underneath everything else--at age thirty-four (older than Christ), he's five-foot-one and still baby-faced, so he's treated like a child wherever he goes. Nonetheless, he's been invited to seven (a magic number one of his rivals is writing a thesis about) different Christmas parties that day, and he decides to explore every one of them for possible work, apartments, love, and just plain distraction.

Tad's a walking punch bowl of joy and fear, goodwill and alienation, running a constant mental argument with himself throughout his long marathon. By midnight, he will have visited all parts of his past--from brunch with his rumpled Boston Irish parents and arguably more successful brothers, to dinner with his beautiful Swedish ex-girlfriend, to a fancy, colossal uptown bash where, by now dangerously looped, he bumps into an ex-boyfriend (more confusion!) looking as "glorious and golden as a roast turkey."

A farcical, over-the-top feast of twisted one-liners and outrageous imagery, Let Nothing You Dismay depicts Tad's--and everyone's--struggle for survival, with a bracing combination of Darwinian theory and hallucinatory fairy-tale wonder. It's a Chekhov story told with P. G. Wodehouse flippancy, or a tale of Celtic mysticism as S. J. Perelman might have rendered it. Above all, the bright spots in this darkest night of the soul prove that comical epiphany isn't just for Christmas anymore.
When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, enragingly...gone.
So begins the immensely entertaining story of Peter and his unrequited love for his best friend's girl; of Charlotte and her less-than-perfect marriage to a man in love with someone else; of Jonathan and his wicked and fateful debauchery; and of Holly, the impetus for it all. Along the way, there's the evil boss, the desirable temptress, miscommunications, misrepresentations, fiendish behavior, letters gone astray, and ultimately, an ending in which every character gets his due.
Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.

"James Collins has written a romantic, funny and insightful page turner about love in modern times, missed opportunities and the wheel of fate (with a blow-out!) that is so engaging and real, you will find it impossible to put down. Peter Russell is an everyman filled with longing, lust and good sense. I promise you will root for him as fate throws him curves aplenty on his path to true love. BEGINNER'S GREEK and Peter Russell are keepers."
-- Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Lucia, Lucia and Big Stone Gap
A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage—in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of The New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee—a war hero named Osama bin Laden—will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.

Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.

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