Having escaped the poverty of his childhood, claims adjuster Floyd Jasper is now gainfully employed by a large health insurance company. In a nightmarish near-future America suffering the ill effects of post–Citizens United election-buying, he has, because of his profession, become a supremely unpopular man. Just as 99 percent of the U.S. is poor, 99 percent of the insurance company’s claims are denied. The sick have three choices: pay in full, start a payment plan with 75 percent interest, or be executed. Floyd delights in the gruesome nature of the job: though he was born poor, he nevertheless considers these unfortunate souls to be nothing but vermin. Few things weigh heavily on his conscience as he murders, rapes women, and shoots annoying kids in the street. Nevertheless, he is a scathing and wry critic of the oppressive government, the delusional media, and the rich. His intense love for his brother is often on his mind, and a torrid affair with co-worker Gloria Estrella opens up a new dimension in his career and personal life. The mysterious death of his colleague Carl Winters as well as a fateful encounter with a 700-pound woman lead Floyd to believe he’s being stalked, so he goes on the run with Gloria. As he grows into an impromptu inspirational leader, the resulting battles make him question the motives of everyone around him. Swamp’s rollicking and witty prose makes the stomach-turning events somewhat easier to swallow. The narrative is solid, if wordy and long, casting Floyd as a deadpan antihero. Zany though informed, disgusting but relevant, the story offers insight into American class divisions and the general public’s feeling of powerlessness toward the government machine. Think American Psycho if it were written by Carl Hiaasen, plus characters from The Handmaid’s Tale on a lot of hard drugs. If Swamp had been more concise, his book could have taken flight a bit more easily.
Overlong but astonishing social commentary.