Fritz Brubaker and his wife, Linda—an attractive couple in their mid-forties—have it all. He’s a toy-company executive and she’s a million-dollar-a-year lawyer. Their children are in private school; they have a McMansion in a Boston suburb and a cottage on Nantucket. But their comfortable world is suddenly turned upside down when Fritz’s company’s stock tanks and he is arrested for insider trading. Linda’s image-conscious ﬁrm suspends her. Their houses get repossessed. The kids go haywire. Watching the Brubaker family’s lives unravel is the best way to see the stuff from which they’re really made.
This clever, very funny novel is a post-millennial snapshot of America that shows what happens to an economy built on greed when its chickens come home to roost. It’s the story of a family gone wrong, and its attempt to reset its course.
The author of two successful thrillers, Sabin Willett delivers in this ambitious new novel the kind of witty social commentary we associate with Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith. But he writes in his own original voice, breaking new ground as he describes a changed world. Present Value is a provocative, wonderfully entertaining ride—an irreverent, clear-eyed view of the way we live now.
Willett (The Betrayal; The Deal) offers a satiric portrait of suburban privilege and privation in the new millennium. Fritz Brubaker is an executive at Playtime, a Fortune 100 toy company; his wife, Linda, is a successful corporate attorney. Armed with Ivy League degrees and with their two children in tow, they zip through the smartest neighborhoods in the smartest vehicles, tethered to one another and the world through cell phones, beepers and, especially, Blackberry PDAs. But life veers off its smooth, comfy road when Playtime's stock value plummets, and Fritz is arrested for insider trading. Linda, who has been having an affair with one of her firm's partners (and discussing it with her therapist, Dr. Schadenfrau, who really couldn't care less), attempts to understand the change in Fritz. Always somewhat indolent, he now seems almost malevolently perverse: he demands she turn off her Blackberry while they're talking, for example, and questions the assumed values of their lives. Then Linda is forced to take a leave of absence and the wolves start howling around the door; soon Fritz is on his way to prison while the lawyers, accountants and even the U.S. Senate grapple with Playtime's financial disaster. Willett's detailed knowledge of legal and financial machinations is complemented by his snappy, fresh prose style, his sharp wit and his ability to draw compelling characters (even when they're rather despicable). It's a clever sendup of striving citizens, and in the end, a morality tale, as the man who thinks he's lost everything discovers that perhaps he's won.