A sexual manipulative, financially abusive patriarch in an America family lies dying in a hospital while we follow the ripple effect of his damage across multiple generations and more ancillary connections. His son and daughter are feuding about their upbringing while the son, usually reliable, decides whether or not he will show for his father. His daughter traces her own choices in life and love through the radiating influence of her dysfunctional father. His wife traces his sexual and financial misdeeds. His grandchildren, his daughter in law, and a few other voices all circulate this life that seems to dominate their lives.
This book, however, feels slight and a little too on the nose. I forget why now, but there were a few moments that felt somewhat sour to me as I read it — not sour in terms of the plot and choices, but in the writing itself. So the total effect feels a lot like a stripped-bare version of The Corrections for the Trump era. And that’s part of the problem. Trump is of course a walking whining baby of a entitlement and abuse and dysfunction, but this book, like so many other books and tv shows and movies or whatever that are being written or produced treat him as the core of this problem, and not as the emblem — which only gives him power he doesn’t need and status he doesn’t deserve. It certainly causes people to forget how truly awful George W Bush and Ronald Reagan were as presidents, if more mild as men. So this book felt timely if unprofound, but tied to 2020 in a way that something like The Corrections actually feels timely.