The sorrows of Job are visited upon a St. Louis nut salesman, with hilarious results, in Carkeet's (The Full Catastrophe, 1990, etc.) wry updating of the biblical tragedy. Ben Hudnut, when we first meet him, seems to have things more or less figured out. Happily married and the father of four daughters, he runs a successful business distributing nuts to most of the retailers in the Midwest and quite a few farther afield. Living in his newly acquired dream house with wife Susan, who writes children's books and tends the kids, there are times when the unreflective Ben sees himself ""as a man who could do everything--raise good kids, run a solid business, and have an affair. He was 'larger than life.' But the truth was, he was exactly life-size."" The true extent of his limitations becomes painfully clear when Ben's secretary absconds with $250,000 of his company's funds, putting him on the brink of bankruptcy overnight. As if this weren't enough, one of his daughters seems to be having an affair with her high-school teacher; the teacher himself attempts to blackmail Ben into silence by intimating that he knows a thing or two about what passed between Ben and another woman a few years back. And Ben's wife, meanwhile, has become the object of rather serious attention from Jeremy Cook, an unemployed linguist married to a bitchy college professor down the block. This convergence of misfortunes succeeds, as such trials invariably will, in revealing Ben's true character to himself for the first time. Long before he manages to make sense of his plight, however, he somehow succeeds in overcoming it--and it is in his response to fate, rather than in his grasp of it, that he shows what he is really made of. Witty, good-natured, and completely convincing: Carkeet has managed, with sympathy and charm, to trace the exceptional adventures of an utterly ordinary man.