I was in the Midwest for 9/11, in my high school chemistry class. The teacher still made up complete our lab work and still expected our lab reports on September 12th. So 9/11 was a sad day, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York State years later that I realized how much that day changed people here. Everyone here has a story of sorrow or almost sorrow. I don’t know if there is acceptable 9/11 humor. But I know it’s not this mess.
Two horrible people, Marshall and Joyce, are going through a horrible divorce. When 9/11 happens, they both believe the other to be killed. Imagine the egg on their faces when they find out the other is still alive! The rest of the book is them trying to out horrible each other interspersed with post-9/11 events. Such as, Joyce is convinced Marshall sent baby powder in an envelope to her work just to get the building shut down in the midst of the anthrax scare. Marshall attempts to get Joyce’s sister’s wedding cancelled by inviting himself to the bachelor party and talking Middle East politics with the groom’s Jewish friends. How droll!
There might be a way to write about our post-9/11 world with humor. From the paranoia to the 24 hour news cycle it birthed, there are things in there to lampoon. This book, however, doesn’t land it. The only scene that shows a bit of cheekiness is near the end. Marshall has constructed a homemade bomb and strapped it to himself, gone out into the kitchen and proclaimed “God is Great!” He pulls the trigger and…nothing happens. Joyce attempts to help his wiring issues with the patronizing style of a parent trying to get their kid to learn to tie their own shoes. This small bit of absurdity was pretty much the only pages worth printing for this book.