From Publishers Weekly
An indictment of wasteful American capitalism, a satire of political correctness, an exploration of America's guilt for unspeakable slavery-era crimes—Heppner's second novel (following The Egg Code
, 2002) is all of this, sometimes exhilaratingly, sometimes wearyingly. Hugely wealthy, 40-something Rhode Islander Nathanial Pike, throws quixotic millions at frivolous projects. His latest: buying and paving over a beautiful tract of New Hampshire wilderness to erect a mountaintop Kmart. While Pike's flailing novelist-secretary Stuart suffers writer's block, Stuart's wife, Marlene, battles an increasingly uncontrollable urge to strip in public. Meanwhile, Greg Reese, a fellow Rhode Island moneybags, is unhappily bound to his family's dubiously conceived philanthropic foundation; its secret raison d'etre is family guilt over the sexual abuse and mass-murder of dozens of slaves (whose bodies are unearthed on property Pike
previously owned). Surprising connections come to light as the FBI and a hoard of activists work to publicly discredit Pike, and Reese's wayward daughter (a budding filmmaker) and her boyfriend (an obsessive fan of Beach Boy Brian Wilson) struggle to understand the powers and evils of wealth. When all of these disparate parties finally clash in Pike's new parking lot, the hero is both obvious and unlikely. Though the competing plot lines overwhelm the story, Heppner's prose is ax sharp, and he fells a great many American demons in putting forth his haunting and redemptive vision of New England's past and present. (Mar. 10)
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Self-made Rhode Islander Nathaniel Pike, as eccentric as he is rich, buys a piece of federal land in New Hampshire's White Mountains and builds a parking lot on it--an intentionally utterly useless endeavor dubbed the Independence Project--then adds a fully staffed and stocked Kmart. Meanwhile, his counterpart--Gregg Reese, from old money--is managing his family's philanthropic funds so badly that he seeks a state subsidy. Pike's personal assistant is Stuart Breen, author of one literary novel, whose wife Maureen's compulsion to be naked leads to her arrest for public indecency. As in The Egg Code
(2002), Heppner takes on modern culture with its pretension and hypocrisy, from art critics who take the Independence Project seriously to wasting money honestly earned versus giving money from an evil source to charity. But with characters you hardly care about and pedestrian prose, this is better commentary than fiction. Michele LeberCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved