Recent college grad tries to navigate the political minefields and glossy nightlife of Washington, D.C.
As a speechwriter for the Center for American Progress, debut novelist Ginder has obviously developed a healthy and fertile suspicion of beltway institutions. Unfortunately his cautionary tale, while laced with contemporary detail and rapid-fire dialogue, is built haphazardly from scenarios worked to death by other writers. It doesn’t help that the book’s blond-coiffed protagonist, flailing Princeton alum Taylor Mark, is whiny even in his best moments. Fleeing his pharmaceutically addled mother, Taylor moves to D.C. at the behest of an old friend, golden boy Chase Latham, who’s sleeping with Taylor’s adorable cousin Annalee. “He’s a drug, really,” Taylor admits. “Grade A, uncut, pure, top of the line. Served up by only the slickest dealers in high-class clubs. Sure, he’s a little dangerous. And yeah, there’s a hangover—mornings and days and nights wondering why and telling yourself it’s not going to happen again.” With Chase’s help, Taylor becomes a legislative aide to earnest Republican Congressman John Grayson, then oscillates between tedious days doing scut work for Grayson’s reptilian staff and late nights stalking “skinterns” through opulent parties with Chase’s glamorous, self-destructive posse. Clearly Taylor has good intentions; he ingratiates himself with the congressman, tries to look after his cousin and pursues a Latina beauty with all the savoir-faire of a puppy dog. But he can’t seem to help screwing it all up. How did everything go so wrong? “Politics, I suppose,” Chase muses between cocktails. Sampling the nihilism of Bret Easton Ellis and the workplace satire of Joshua Ferris, Ginder conveys little more than the sense that we’ve been here before.
A passable, watery caricature.