cover image Crooked


Austin Grossman. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-19851-6

Richard Nixon, the narrator of this audacious genre-bending novel from Grossman (You), purports to tell the “real story of Watergate.” In a voice that sounds authentically Nixonian, the disgraced 37th president reminisces about most of the important people from his past, including his wife, Pat (“beautiful and intelligent” but “also odd”); his opponent in the 1960 presidential race, John F. Kennedy (“Kennedy smiled at me with his irresistible grin and even in that moment I felt drawn to him”); and Henry Kissinger (whose “singsong accent seemed borrowed from a German burlesque show”). The political autobiography turns into a Cold War spy caper, and then into a series of supernatural adventures bordering on Lovecraftian horror. (“The hole in the wall was expanding, slowly. Beyond I saw stars and a bulky shape silhouetted against them.”) The implied climactic cataclysm doesn’t quite come off, but otherwise Grossman has done a fine job of combining history, thriller, and weird tale. Agent: Luke Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (July)