Anyway, this book also speaks to the idea that if something meaningful happened in the United States during the 20th century, there’s a good chance it’s showed up as a kind of subplot of one of his novels. In this novel, we meet Walter Starbuck, a man of lowly origins, who with a changed name in hand and his father’s long work for a rich benefactor allowing him to go to Harvard and beyond eventually finds himself being one of the fallguys for the Nixon Administration. Now, out of jail, and working for a megacorporation, Starbuck is looking back on his life working in hotels, going to war, loving exactly four women in his life — his mother, two women in college (a rich chaste girl and a young Communist) — and his time as a Communist in the 1930s. Like a lot of Communists in the 1930s, he tried to reinvent himself after the war and especially after the HUAC hearings, and Starbuck finds himself being affiliated with both Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn.
This book is about things like crime and punishment. Sometimes crimes do get punished, and sometimes the punished never commit a single crime.