A busman’s holiday through the imagined, exaggerated playgrounds of the unconscionably rich.
The subjects of this gorgeously illustrated, drolly written satire are those who combine stratospheric wealth with zero social conscience. As the introduction puts it, “Because it takes more than money and privilege and cronies in all the right places to ransack Nature’s bounty for the private pleasure of the demanding few, a kind of sublime idiocy is needed to obliterate what always was and make out what never existed before.” Though the credits never specify who did what, the art that carries this project is plainly that of McCall, who has some 50 covers of the New Yorker to his credit. Taking second billing is TV host Letterman, whose previous books have generally sprung from bits or trivia on his program. Many of these short chapters could have worked even better as video shorts or as graphic narrative, since the writing generally supports the visuals rather than vice versa. The acknowledgements credit “Amanda McCall’s indispensable role” in coordinating the project; she is one co-author’s daughter and long worked for the other. What we have here is an entire globe turned into kind of a prefabricated Las Vegas for the superrich, with one famous landmark rechristened the “Taj Me-All,” while other diversions include bison paintball, nude golf and a pyromaniac’s construction of the world’s longest fireplace: “It’s the only domestic hearth in America with its own fire department, on alert 24/7 to monitor the more than sixty blazes simultaneously crackling away day and night.” There’s also a scam that “has…made billions overestimating the intelligence and underestimating the gullibility of the international art scene.” And the Godlandia theme park, where a top attraction “features a mechanical Peeping Tom caveman being shooed away from ogling a naked Eve in the Garden of Eden by a righteous mechanical Adam.”
Lightweight, mostly amusing fare.