cover image The Index of Self-Destructive Acts

The Index of Self-Destructive Acts

Christopher Beha. Tin House, $27.95 (528p) ISBN 978-1-947793-82-8

In this gripping family saga, Beha (The Whole Five Feet) sets a cast of New Yorkers on a path to ruin during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Sam Waxworth is a data journalist who has become famous for the program he designed that accurately predicted much of the 2008 election results, including Obama’s meteoric rise to the presidency. As a result, he is offered a plum job at Interviewer magazine in New York and leaves his wife in Wisconsin, where she is finishing her last year of special education study. After his first articles for the publication go viral, he’s assigned to write a profile of Frank Doyle, a disgraced, left-wing–turned–right-wing political opinion writer. As Sam conducts his reporting, he becomes enmeshed with the Doyle family. Kit, Frank’s wife, is reeling from the collapse of her private investment bank. Eddie, their son and an Army veteran, suffers from PTSD after having served in Iraq. And Sam starts up a romantic relationship with 23-year-old Margo, Eddie’s sister and an aspiring academic, just as his wife decides to pay Sam a visit from Wisconsin. Filled with stunning acts of hubris and betrayal, Beha’s deliciously downbeat novel picks apart the zeitgeist, revealing a culture of schemers and charlatans. This cutting send-up of New York progressive elitism should do much to expand Beha’s audience. (May)