A dark comedy about the psychological damage inflicted on American workers during the difficult economic and political climate in the new millennium.
Maley’s clever debut novel begins with a nameless, disgruntled worker beating his former boss, a Wall Street tycoon named Egan, to death with a hammer. Regretting his violent actions, the killer aims to repent by saving the defunct American economy. Tongue in cheek the whole narrative, Maley’s narrator creates a new product, Egan Disciplinary Fish Food, through which he hopes to create jobs and finance the college education of Egan’s three children. As the novel progresses, the frenetic narrator focuses on the repeated catastrophes and fear that pervaded from 2000 to 2010. Maley essentially turns fear into a character and shows the narrator working relentlessly to demolish it. The chapters alternate points of view between the arguably psychotic murdering worker and various televised news reports regarding the states of fear, uncertainty, doubt and other destructive but prevalent societal emotions. As the narrator plods onward “with the express intent of saving souls through capitalism,” he occupies something of an undefined physical space, conducting imaginary conversations with his deceased boss as well as animals and characters that are barely included in relevant scenes. The plot of this witty novel is almost beside the point, as Maley’s kooky narrator singlehandedly dissects the traumas of the decade. Despite his precarious mental state, this “unpaid overtimer” toils so zealously for the salvation of the nation’s collective spirit that the reader cannot help but root for his success. In addition to the economy, Maley’s narrator bites his nails about environmental damage, technological glitches, terrorism, health care and many other contemporary dilemmas, with a determination to fix it all. Blurring the lines between the real and the surreal, Maley creates a story full of both fright and hope.
An amusing satire about contemporary American society, filled with refreshing comic relief.