Mark Costello’s novel Big If is populated with some of the most interesting, most contemporary, characters. Walter is a moderate Republican atheist working in insurance. He has the habit of crossing out GOD in his dollar bills so that the statement reads IN US WE TRUST. He has two children: Jens, who has grown up as a software programmer, writing code for and pondering the morality (or immorality, or amorality) of the monster game he has developed; Violet has grown up to work in the Secret Service. Vi is assigned to the VP, who is running for president and will have to go to the Democratic primary in New Hampshire to jog (surrounded by security), eat at a McDonald’s (surrounded by media), and shake hands with the common people to get their vote. Jens’s wife, Peta, is a realtor assigned to manage a supposedly boring building now being attacked by a group of violent right-to-lifers. Gretchen, Vi’s superior, has separated from his douchebag boyfriend, but his son has found the boyfriend’s address by Googling himself, and now wants to spend time with his father. Before Lydia married Secret Service agent Lloyd Felker, her talent agent said, You’re not supposed to marry your own agent. And I’m your agent! He’s not that kind of agent, Lydia said, and her talent agent said, Oh my god, is he a literary agent? How will you be able to feed yourself?
Big If, published in 2002, was a finalist for the National Book Award. I wonder what novel it came up against. Costello’s novel was funny and touching and relevant enough to have won.
And the back cover has a blurb from Jonathan Franzen, saying the book is filled with “inside dope”. I mean, come on.
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Next: probably Eden Express. I’m still reading The Blind Assassin, but it’s too rich, I can’t devour it all at once.
I’m also interested in this book:
The last good non-fiction book I’ve read was Watching the English by Kate Fox. Pop sociology for the win.
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In other news, a story of mine is being considered for a fantasy anthology, but the editors are asking for a major edit. I’ve already edited it, re-sent it. Hope the new version does the trick. We’ll see. ;)
Congrats to Paolo for receiving that acceptance letter. Hooray!