In this rollicking ride of a novel, Maazel explores a world of family, fame and forgiveness.
One of the cures for “waking up lonely” is the Helix, sponsor of a number of services geared to help the legion of people experiencing loneliness in the 21st century. The founder of the Helix is Thurlow “Lo” Dan, whose mission has been to help those who feel companionless, though ironically, he’s been feeling forsaken and isolated himself since the breakup of his marriage to Esme and his separation from his daughter, Ida. In one hilarious scene we learn of the Helix’s strategy of “speed dating,” in which potential partners come together for a few minutes to share a brief piece of who they are (responding to contrived prompts such as “My worst high school moment”) in hopes of establishing a more lasting relationship. Despite such artificiality, the Helix has become something of a cult and is now drawing worldwide attention. Esme has been spying on Thurlow and comes up with a recon mission that, to say the least, devolves into a fiasco. In fact, he turns the tables on the motley group of operatives Esme has put together. In a number of touching flashbacks, we learn of the development of Lo and Esme’s relationship. The narrative moves readers seamlessly from such unlikely places as the Helix’s corporate headquarters in Cincinnati to the bleakness of North Korea.
Maazel manages to strike a number of tones here—from poignant (all Lo wants is to get back with wife and daughter) to paranoid—and she’s successful at every level.