A novel examines a septuagenarian’s struggle with his life’s purpose.
Though he is immensely wealthy, Donald Tarnoff, age 70, simply cannot seem to get out of bed in the morning. Could depression be gnawing at a man whose life has largely been successful? The owner of a professional basketball team, Donald agrees to talk to a psychologist as he flies via private jet to an appearance on a sports program. While his initial conversation with the psychologist yields little, his on-air comments churn up quite a storm. Ranting about various aspects of the NBA, he makes some incendiary pronouncements (one example comes when explaining a dynamic of his team’s fan base: “Loud, screaming blacks keep the more desirable white fans from attending the games”). Donald soon finds himself in a battle with the league. Is he a man who is unafraid to speak the politically incorrect truth or is he merely a disconnected old bigot? Though the investigation ends with Donald selling his team at an attractive price and serving as an inspiration for others, he is still, once the dust settles, depressed. At this point, the psychologist begins exploring Donald’s life story for answers. It appears that Donald needs a new direction, but what shall that be? Featuring such an unlikely protagonist, the book faces a tough task. How does a work generate empathy for someone who owns a professional sports team and manages to sell it at a steep profit? Having raised eight foster children with his wife (four white and four black), Donald obviously cannot be a racist, so what else is there to his character? Eventually finding a new calling, he begins an odd journey. Though it feels at times as if Silverman (What Money Can Buy, 2011, etc.) is trying a little too hard to make Donald likable, the central question of how an elderly man, with a huge supply of money, can find his mission in life is worth pursuing. Readers in a similar bind, or frustrated by the unwritten laws of political correctness, are likely to enjoy following the path of such an individual.
A strange tale of a man who, even in his golden years, refuses to quit.