An emotional balancing act of Herculean proportions, Will Ferguson's debut novel is somehow both caustically cynical and touchingly humane. Its message: there is no happiness without sadness. The pursuit of happiness is all--actually attaining it, if that were even possible, would be death. When Edwin de Valu, an editor at Panderic Press, finds What I Learned on the Mountain, a self-help book by an unknown author, Tupak Soiree, on his slush pile and publishes it, suddenly millions of people believe that pursuit is over. "Apocalypse Nice" has arrived, and Edwin's cynical side goes into high gear trying to save the world from itself. On this hysterical (in every sense of the word) quest, Edwin receives little help from his credulous wife, his plump co-worker (and sometime lover) May, or his ponytailed baby-boomer boss, Mr. Mead.
This wacky, lightweight novel mixes elements from Dilbert, Woody Allen, grainy art films, and P.J. O'Rourke. While Ferguson lines up a number of easy targets and can be way too obvious ("The Name of the Tulip" echoes a certain highbrow mystery), he can also write with flair, as in describing Edwin's city: "Here, in a miasma of fumes, trains rattle-bang on an endless Möbius strip of work, sweat, salt and grubby lucre. A merry-go-round where the horses have emphysema." --Mark Frutkin [via]