In her funny and moving new novel Smiley brings her extraordinary gifts, comic timing, empathy and emotional wisdom, to the seductive, wishful, wistful world of real estate, in which the sport of choice is the mind game.
Jane Smiley brings her extraordinary giftscomic timing, empathy, emotional wisdom, an ability to deliver slyly on big themes and capture the American spiritto the seductive, wishful, wistful world of real estate, in which the sport of choice is the mind game. Her funny and moving new novel is about what happens when the American Dream morphs into a seven-figure American Fantasy.
Joe Stratford is someone you like at once. He makes an honest living helping nice people buy and sell nice houses. His not-very-amicable divorce is finally settled, and hes ready to begin again. Its 1982. He is pretty happy, pretty satisfied. But a different era has dawned; Joes new friend, Marcus Burns from New York, seems to be suggesting that the old rules are ready to be repealed, that now is the time you can get rich quick. Really rich. And Marcus not only knows that everyone is going to get rich, he knows how. Because Marcus just quit a job with the IRS.
But is Joe ready for the kind of success Marcus promises he can deliver? And whats the real scoop on Salt Key Farm? Is this really the development opportunity of a lifetime?
And then theres Felicity Ornquist, the lovely, feisty, winning (and married) daughter of Joes mentor and business partner. She has finally owned up to her feelings for Joe: shes just been waiting for him to be available.
The question Joe asks himself, over and over, is, Does he have the gumption? Does he have the smarts and the imagination and the staying power to pay attentionto Marcus and to Felicityand reap the rewards?
Captures the seductions and illusions that can seize America during our periodic golden ages (every Main Street an El Dorado). To follow Joe as he does deals and is dealt with in this newly liberated world of anything goes is a roller-coaster ride through the fun park of the 1980s. It is Jane Smiley in top form.
THIS WOULD BE '82. I was out at the Viceroy with Bobby Baldwin. Bobby Baldwin was my one employee, which made us not quite friends, but we went out to the Viceroy almost every night. My marriage was finished and his hadn't started, so we spent a lot of time together that most everyone else we knew was spending with their families. I didn't mind. My business card had the Viceroy's number in the corner, under "may also be reached at." Buyers called me there. It was a good sign if they wanted to see a house again in what you might call the middle of the night. That meant they couldn't wait till morning. And if they wanted to see it again in the middle of the night--well, I did my best to show it to them. That was the difference between Bobby and me. He always said, "Their motivation needs to be tested, that's what I think. Let 'em wait a little bit."
Bobby was not my brother, but he might as well have been. Sally, his sister, had been my ...
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