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A romantic comedy moving Heaven and Earth begins in Carmel, Indiana precious preppy city of spinning roundabouts and the meddling of gods. Just ahead of the financial crisis, the housing bubble pops first in Pebblebrook, where the gods have created man in their own likeness. As if going into another great depression was not enough, the gods still consider us their comedy channel. Hermes the Messenger is the narrator of a salacious Olympian tell-all. The women of Pebblebrook have put him in mind of the pampered girls of ancient Mycenae. There is something about being kept in luxury that forces a woman into bloom.
Cloud Shrouded Olympus is in an uproar. Tische, Giver of Luck, is streaking toward the house of Zeus Thundercloud to ask permission to live among the mortals yet again.
Zeus is resentful. He suspects that Lovely Tische has slept with Far Seeing Anthony on her last visit. Hera, Wife of Thundercloud, has left in a jealous rage to fetch The Owl-Eyed Athena and her bow.
Those who love the authentic feel of the Lombardo translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey will find this novel a kindred spirit.
It is eight days before Thanksgiving 2008. The financial crisis is roaring. The Too-Clever Bernie Madoff has not been stopped. Nine-Eleven remains an open wound. Perched high above the Hudson, at the edge of the continent, the vice-president of news, Anthony Ficocelli, determined to save his network, looks west. He broods in a dimly lit control room, many stories above the busy street that glitters noiselessly below with headlights. Soundproofing contains the voices of many people, some here in the control room, others from beyond the glass and still others from time zones so far away that it isn’t even today any longer. Here he feels his mind reach around the world. He, in his evening, watches one person in their morning, another in their afternoon, talking with both, and yet, they only hear Anthony. In this way, he is like the conscience of each.
Toni is a statue come alive, alabaster in cashmere, as graceful as a thought. The repeating video in the network control room shows a burning duplex absorbing the strong streams of water, which the firemen play upon it. Anthony watches her pick her way across the hoses and through the debris. Against this backdrop of chaos and danger moves Toni Monroe, as calm and gracious as the hostess of a cocktail party. She is shadowed by her news crew who jump like nervous hounds at the end of her tether.
Terry LeBlanc is a glib young sahib of the political donor class. He has been groomed. He is expected to make his mark, to help keep sharp the boundaries, the lines that the internet and the avalanche of cable channels now abrade like the sandstorms that wore down desert cartouches, ancient logos and the forgotten titles of the powerful.
His father, Doctor LeBlanc calls it “the divorce tax worked backward.” During the Great Recession, while others dig their heels in against the skid of the housing bust, he burns his crops in the field.
There exists a legion of ever-receding figures sent to mortals by the Fates. By means of a thousand coincidences and inspirations that go unrecognized, they steer you toward your destiny.
They enter streets marching from out of shadows, or condense within revolving doors to come spinning out. They appear rounding corners except the people around the corner never saw them. They merge with the crowd between fast blinks, or pass staring at you from out of autos that appeared the moment you looked away. They never reach a destination because they haven’t any. They are the wallpaper of daily life, and yet they are as necessary to you as the oxygen in the air that they can never breathe. They are the flats and props of the stage on which you strut and fret your giddy hour.
No heavy morals in this story, just a lot of fun amid the chaos down on Earth, as The Great Recession is getting started.