MAGGIE DARLING by James Howard Kunstler


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As if Martha Stewart didn’t have problems enough.

Maggie, a mega-rich, mega-chic authority on all things domestic walks, talks, and looks just like Martha. Cook up a handful of celebrities and trillionaires, lightly toasted. Throw in Kenneth Darling, Maggie’s husband, philanderer with a fortune from Wall Street—no cooking needed, since he’s already stewed for this ho-ho-holiest of nights, Christmas Eve. Garnish the whole with a winsome twentysomething, pat her on the bottom and turn up the heat. Oh, dear, it looks as if Kenneth is doing the patting (and more), and Maggie is steaming. Her only weapon a hot-glue gun, she orders him to pack and leave—and don’t ask where your Turnbull & Asser shirts are, buster. Kenneth protests his innocence somewhat too vigorously—with the fireplace poker—and is asked to leave again, this time by the Connecticut police. So Maggie Darling and her adorable teenagers begin the new year on their own. Can a blond, beautiful multimillionairess find real love in mean old Manhattan? Frederick Swann, a singer with a nimbus of golden curls, adores Maggie, and he’s only a few tables away, penning an invitation to—oh, dear, the restaurant has just been invaded by a gun-waving posse of young thugs speaking in colorful inner-city dialect. They seem to want something, and it’s not a table. How surreal. How edgy. And how wonderful to have something meaningful to talk about (and the chance to add a few points about urban decay, something of a nonfiction specialty: The Geography Of Nowhere, 1993, etc.) for novelist Kunstler (An Embarrassment of Riches, 1985, etc.). Another of Maggie’s admirers, Reggie Chang, photographer for her upcoming book, can’t help imagining America’s favorite housewife in a teeny-tiny apron and nothing else. Alas, she’s not interested. The distraught Reggie attempts suicide. Further complications and a zany cast of thousands make Maggie’s life a (sometimes happy) hell.

Frenetic satire with its moments—while the mannered style grates.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-87113-910-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003


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