Saturday, September 8, 2018
Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.
They came chasing the American Dream. Phoebe spends her days riding the California freeways, driving from doctor's office to doctor's office, her job as a pharmaceutical rep demanding that she flirt and sometimes more to make her quota of sales. Nick came out to California believing that he had a job in the film industry only to find out that it was vapors when he got there. He now works for a firm that clears out and cleans up houses that are foreclosed on and where the people living have just given up and moved on.
Nick and Phoebe are struggling, fighting every day just to keep their heads above water. They live in an amazing house but just like their neighbors, they are upside down on the mortgage and struggling to make payments. Their toddler son is with the nanny more often than with them. In order to make it work they need to pull together but instead they turn on each other, using drugs and alcohol to fill the gaps. Soon they are locked into a martial struggle that seems to have no resolution, each doing whatever they can to hurt the other. Both indulge in infidelity and recriminations, blaming the other for their misfortunes. Will they survive or be victims of the life they have chosen?
This bleak novel is not for everyone. The main characters are struggling and as they flail around, hurting everyone they get close to, they are unlikeable and hard to emphasize with. They know what the dream is but it is forever out of their grasp and they can't figure out why some people are winning while so many struggle and go under. The reader moves on, unable to look away from the train wreck that is their lives and wondering if there is any hope of redemption. This is not an easy book but it is a searing indictment of what chasing the dream can be. This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.