A suburban single mother of two juggles her motherly responsibilities, the editorship of a local paper and a growing addiction to cocaine.
This debut novel by English teacher and pop commentator Schuster (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan’s Guide to Doctor Who, 2007, etc.) aims a pointedly jaundiced eye at American consumerism. It acidly portrays the modern American family through the eyes of a matriarch transformed—not necessarily negatively—by her addiction to drugs. Audrey Corcoran is trying to get by in a world that’s been turned upside-down by her acrimonious divorce from her husband Roger, whose vivacious girlfriend Chloe causes Audrey no end of jealous exasperation. Her oldest daughter is reaching the age of teenaged resentment, while her precocious younger daughter more closely resembles a sophisticated teenager than the 8-year-old she is. On top of it all, Audrey supports the whole family with her gig in a dead-end job as the editor of a glorified restaurant review whose stock in trade is more of a complex barter system than functional business. So perhaps it’s no wonder that when Audrey begins dating Owen Little, the hipster owner of a local dive, she begins to feel some pangs of temptation. “Maybe I let it slip that a girl could always change her mind,” Audrey muses. “Maybe I mentioned that even though no always meant no, there was always room for negotiation. Maybe I gave Owen the impression that I was open to trying coke just once, just out of curiosity, just to see if it would do anything for me.” It’s not too many bumps later before Audrey realizes that her overcomplicated life is made much easier through chemical acceleration, not to mention that the dealing of many ounces of coke eases her financial burdens as well.
Although the plot is a bit overfamiliar, Schuster does a fine job in maintaining Audrey’s aura of denial even as she plunges deeper into quicksand of her own making.