Aidan Cole and his friends are a band of savvy—if cynical—New York journalists and bloggers, thriving at the intersection of media and celebrity. They meet at loft parties and dive bars, talking of scoops and page views, sexual adventures and new restaurants. And then, without warning, a bomb rips through a deserted midtown office tower, and Aidan’s life will never be the same.
Four days later, with no arrests and a city on edge, an anonymous e-mail arrives in Aidan’s inbox. Attached is the photograph of an attractive young white woman, along with a chilling message: “This is Paige Roderick. She’s the one responsible.”
An astonishing debut novel, American Subversive is a “genuinely thrilling thriller” (NewYorker.com) as well as “an exploration of what motivates radicalism in an age of disillusion” (The New York Times Book Review).
In Goodwillie's debut novel (after his memoir, Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time), an incisive depiction of radicalism's seductive roots, the central characters are a good girl gone bad and a would-be journalist turned blogger who wants to do good. Paige Roderick, laid off from her think tank job and devastated by the Iraq War death of her beloved brother, is an easy mark for a shadowy cabal of home-grown terrorists who recruit her from the ranks of weekend environmental warriors. Separately, Aidan Cole, a failed journalism student turned Manhattan gossip blogger, is drawn into her radical orbit (and into a romance) by a phantom from America's radical past: a former member of the Weather Underground. Part political thriller and part on-the-run love story, Goodwillie's glimpse of the lapsed idealism that might be fueling America's subversive underground falls somewhere between Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama and John Updike's Terrorist. The mix of mocking the jaded hip the Gawker-like blogging empire that Aidan works for serves as a frequent punching bag and exploring cultural and social unrest results in a comic and unsettling two-pronged dissection of a subset of contemporary America.