cover image The Unfolding

The Unfolding

A.M. Homes. Viking, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2535-0

Homes follows Days of Awe with a satiric misfire about a wealthy Republican donor and his family in the wake of the 2008 U.S. presidential election. At the center is a 60-something money man called the “Big Guy” who forms a small clandestine organization with like-minded Republican men to erode American trust in Democratic Party agendas. Meanwhile, the Big Guy’s alcoholic wife, Charlotte, attempts suicide, is shipped off to the Betty Ford Center, and grows close to another resident, Terrie. The Big Guy’s 18-year-old daughter, Meghan, begins to question her sheltered upbringing after she learns some family secrets. Throughout, Homes injects her signature wit (on the choice of Sarah Palin for John McCain’s running mate, the Big Guy says, “If you want to appeal to women voters, don’t pick an idiot”), but most of the supporting cast are caricatures, and far too often, when meeting with the Big Guy to plot their retribution, they ramble on interminably. Homes loses the balance provided by the three family members, and though she makes a stab at tying up loose ends in the final pages, it’s too little, too late. While the novel sparks when exploring the political underground, it never fully ignites. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Sept.)