A posthumous novel about the news business.
Hastings (The Operators, 2012, etc.) was one hell of a journalist, covering wars and geopolitical strife for venues like Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. As it turns out, he would have made a fine novelist had he not died in a car accident in 2013. This “secret” novel was resurrected from his files by his widow, Elise Jordan; it’s a messy, caustic and very funny satire. His protagonist is a young journalist also named Mike Hastings, who has just landed his first job at The Magazine in the dying days of traditional journalism. In wry metacommentary scattered throughout the text, the character Mike—who claims he's the one writing this book—reflects on just what it is he's writing. "Maybe I'm talking genres, and maybe the genre is corporate betrayal," he says. "Including the big decision that the entire media world is so interested in: Who and what is left standing?" Hastings, the author, tells the story of how Mike makes the journey from ambitious young man to cynical hack partially by showing us Mike's new friend A.E. Peoria, a classic old-school journalist who fuels his brilliant war reporting with alcohol and drugs and transvestite hookers. In the crevasse between his sanitary cubicle and Peoria’s lewd adventures, our hero is also tracking the war of career strategy between his managing editor, Sanders Berman, and the international editor, Nishant Patel, whose favor Mike is carefully currying. Hastings chooses the start of the Iraq War to disrupt Mike's burgeoning career path. "There's war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included," Mike says. In a way, the book reflects Hastings' career arc, from unpaid intern at Newsweek to one of the essential war correspondents of his generation.
A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands.