Joyce and Marshall each think the other is killed on September 11and must swallow their disappointment when the other arrives home. As their bitter divorce is further complicated by anthrax scares, suicide bombs, and foreign wars, they suffer, in ways unexpectedly personal and increasingly ludicrous, the many strange ravages of our time. In this astonishing black comedy, Kalfus suggests how our nations public calamities have encroached upon our most private illusions.
Kalfus's daring, intelligent exploration of animosity in its various forms (spousal and familial, political and religious) is a novelistic evocation of global despair: "This was a world of heedless materialism, impiety, baseness and divorce. Sense was not made, this was jihad. Yet in its final pages, the novel pulls a twist, moving into a surreal account of American success in Iraq and the dawning of democracy in the Middle East. The dream of a happy marriage may, Kalfus seems to suggest, be equally far-fetched as the political fantasy of a world made better by war.