Rubin (I’ll Get Right Back to You and Other Annoyances, 2010, etc.) takes on the summer of 1969 from an unusual perspective: that of a maverick ad writer.
“Who has time for Vietnam?” asks Bob Bronson, and who can blame him? Tensions may be high in the streets of Boston, as protests against the Vietnam War become more violent on a daily basis, but Bob’s personal life takes all his attention. Having lost his job and burned bridges with the entire Boston advertising world—as well as most any of his former friends—he’s adrift. His family isn’t much help either. His wife, Allie, seems to do little besides drink heavily and mind the children. No one can say whether his life went wrong when he left New York for Boston, or even earlier, but it doesn’t look like there’s much left to salvage as the novel begins, no matter how talented a writer he is. While Bob’s stubbornness had been a problem for him before, it might be his only hope now. He gets a new job offer he can’t refuse and finds himself caught up in something much bigger than himself. It’s corporate insanity of the highest order—politicking, affairs, and even a murder. Bob is in well over his head, but seeing how he gets himself into and out of trouble—and how he catches his breath in between—keeps the story fresh and entertaining. The narration also adds a lot to the book’s attraction: Bob keeps the reader firmly rooted in the novel’s present, and his voice lends the novel all the intrigue and character of classic noir. And while Bob may not be the most likable character, his principled stand—and many temptations—do give him a certain roguish charm. The book’s only real weakness is an occasional sloppiness when it comes to editing. But most readers will likely be too enthralled to notice a few errant punctuation marks.
Mad Men never had this kind of fun.