The Nuremberg Trials are underway. When an university professor and Auschwitz survivor sees Igor Insarov, a KGB agent, and can can identify him as an SS Colonel, Insarov reacts with savage speed – within a day, his former victim is dead.
But, before the Insarov can get rid of his victim, one of the victim’s students (John Craig) while en route to Istanbul has the chance to spend time with his former professor. All hell breaks loose when the professor is found dead and CIA and its partners in France and Britain try to get to the truth and make sure justice is served for all.
David Foster Wallace
With its baroque subplots, zany political satire, morbid, cerebral humor and astonishing range of cultural references, Wallace’s brilliant but somewhat bloated dirigible of a second novel (after The Broom in the System) will appeal to steadfast readers of Pynchon and Gaddis. But few others will have the stamina for it. Set in an absurd yet uncanny near-future, with a cast of hundreds and close to 400 footnotes, Wallace’s story weaves between two surprisingly similar locales: Ennet House, a halfway-house in the Boston Suburbs, and the adjacent Enfield Tennis Academy. It is the “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment” (each calendar year is now subsidized by retail advertising); the U.S. and Canada have been subsumed by the Organization of North American Nations, unleashing a torrent of anti-O.N.A.N.ist terrorism by Quebecois separatists; drug problems are widespread; the Northeastern continent is a giant toxic waste dump; and CD-like “entertainment cartridges” are the prevalent leisure activity. The novel hinges on the dysfunctional family of E.T.A.’s founder, optical-scientist-turned-cult-filmmaker Dr. James Incandenza (aka Himself), who took his life shortly after producing a mysterious film called Infinite Jest, which is supposedly so addictively entertaining as to bring about a total neural meltdown in its viewer. As Himself’s estranged sons?professional football punter Orin, introverted tennis star Hal and deformed naif Mario?come to terms with his suicide and legacy, they and the residents of Ennet House become enmeshed in the machinations of the wheelchair-bound leader of a Quebecois separatist faction, who hopes to disseminate cartridges of Infinite Jest and thus shred the social fabric of O.N.A.N. With its hilarious riffs on themes like addiction, 12-step programs, technology and waste management (in all its scatological implications), this tome is highly engrossing?in small doses. Yet the nebulous, resolutionless ending serves to underscore Wallace’s underlying failure to find a suitable novelistic shape for his ingenious and often outrageously funny material.
While on assignment in Nevada, Christine Temetri isn’t surprised when yet another prophesied Apocalypse fails to occur. After three years of reporting on End Times cults for a religious news magazine, Christine is seriously questioning her career choice. But then she meets Mercury, a cult leader whose knowledge of the impending Apocalypse is decidedly more solid than most: he is an angel, sent from heaven to prepare for the Second Coming but distracted by beer, ping pong, and other earthly delights. After Christine and Mercury inadvertently save Karl Grissom—a film-school dropout and the newly appointed Antichrist—from assassination, she realizes the three of them are all that stand in the way of mankind’s utter annihilation. They are a motley crew compared to the heavenly host bent on earth’s destruction, but Christine figures they’ll just have to do. Full of memorable characters, Mercury Falls is an absurdly funny tale about unlikely heroes on a quest to save the world.