cover image The Long Corner

The Long Corner

Alexander Maksik. Europa, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60945-751-8

Maksik’s scathing satire (after Shelter in Place) sets its sights on a pretentious art colony. Solomon Fields, a journalist turned copywriter in the “dusk” of his 30s, abandons his successful Manhattan career after an emissary from an Edenic experimental settlement called the Coded Garden approaches him at a party with an invitation to visit. It’s 2017, and the nightmare of Trump’s new world has made him vulnerable to the pitch. There, on a remote island, he’s overcome by the scents of jasmine, frangipani, eucalyptus, and citrus trees, and learns more about the founder, Sebastian Light, who insists on his guests’ absolute devotion to their work (otherwise “you are a fraud,” explains “apprentice” Siddhartha). Solomon is put through a humiliating regimen of sexual healing in a sauna and attends an art exhibition where the work of other guests is given ruthless judgments. It all leads to an incendiary conclusion that exposes the shocking cataclysmic consequences of Light’s “benevolent dictatorship,” which turns out to have strangely Trumpian overtones. In the balance, Solomon, who was raised by a Marxist mother and a hedonistic grandmother who survived the Holocaust, recognizes the haunting irony of the slogan stamped on the metal entrance gates to the camp, which reads “beauty will set you free.” Readers will revel in the riotous upending of a self-absorbed personality. (May)