Read an excerpt in Esquire Magazine
You might wonder, what is this book about?
Every year, Rich Fischer leaves his family behind to teach a class on cartooning at an annual week-long summer arts conference. Amy O’Donnell is a student in narrative painting, the mother of three, married to a brutish Wall Street titan who runs a multi-billion dollar private equity fund. Rich and Amy met at the conference a year ago, shared a moment of passion, bonding over the shock at how their lives had turned out, then spent the winter exchanging hot texts and emails. Now they’re back.
Is this book unforgettable?
This is an unforgettable tale of love and adultery, set against the landscape of a New England fishing village, with pornographic sunsets and The Sea Breeze Motel. Because of its location, the conference has an easy time attracting poets, skitterish teenagers in search of illicit pleasures, old guys, driftwood sculptors, printmakers, actors, and playwrights. On the faculty are Nobel Prize-winning storytellers, talented performers, biographers, addicts, drunkards and perverts, one hit has-beens, mid-list somebodies, and legitimate stars. There is a kind of heated, inordinate bonding that happens among grown-ups, forced out of their decorous privacy, into visceral closeness, that has the feeling of an open air loony bin.
What happens next?
On the first day of the conference, at the annual softball game, Amy trips on second base and breaks her wrist, and is taken off the field by paramedics. Beside himself with guilt and longing, torn and confused about how to comfort her, Rich wanders into a jewelry store and accidentally buys a bracelet, wiping out his family’s checking account, which is also their savings account, and was supposed to pay for his daughter’s preschool in the fall. He then accompanies Amy through a near-death country-doctoring to complete the most arduous seduction in history. At this point, Rich comes to realize that all anyone needs for kundalini multi-gasmic monkey sex is two people who know each other just well enough to feel safe but don’t share a kitchen. In the delightfully wicked events that follow, these people entirely unravel.
Are there big, important themes?
Who Is Rich? is a study in midlife alienation, erotic pleasure, envy, and bitterness in the new gilded age. But the novel also addresses deeper questions of family, monogamy and the intoxicating beauty of children within a confusing domestic alliance.