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Stinging and insightful…Merlis is able to move…to the deepest contemplations of commitment, couplehood and the importance of candor. He creates a protagonist with broad appeal, proving beyond doubt that the personal is political and vice versa. – Publishers Weekly
A supremely dry take on the Washington scene — both political and sexual…Like his hero, who stands back and wryly comments, Mark Merlis’s narrative is cynically and enjoyably detached.– London Times
Alternately comic and tragic…Merlis reaches a level of thoughtful reflection that sings with poignancy. – Kirkus Reviews
In his biting third novel, Mark Merlis deftly sketches two distinct societies in Washington: Capitol Hill, where lawmakers and their aides toil in ridiculous formality and futility; and the city's gay singles scene, with its triviality and treachery on display. The novel offers sharp insights about interracial dating and the death of love's illusions…compelling. -- New York Times
Joel Lingeman has it all: an overpaid sinecure advising Congress, a
fifteen-year partnership with a perfectly adequate lover, a cozy circle of
drinking buddies. Until one day his world implodes. His lover runs off,
working for Congress threatens to turn him into a felon, and Joel is hurled
back, out of condition, into the dating game he couldn't manage twenty years
Amid the rubble he finds himself clinging to an image from his boyhood: a model in a swimsuit ad, buried in the back of a magazine, who had beckoned to young Joel to step through the page and into another life. Aided by a detective who is more elusive than his quarry, Joel sets out to discover the real person he knows only from a fading photograph. What begins as a quest for an idyll in the New Mexico hills ends in New Jersey, where a rundown split-level turns out to be a shrine to everyday heroism and ordinary happiness.
Joel's journey -- touching, comic, and deftly observed -- overlays a whip-smart critique of the cynicism and buffoonery of Capitol Hill and a gently acerbic account of how people break up and how they get together. Mark Merlis's third novel contains an unforgettable new twist on the idea that the personal is political: clever, wry, and knowing, it's a wise novel that unashamedly celebrates romance, nostalgia, and innocence.