Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Read: "Wise Men" by Stuart Nadler

Read: Wise Men by Stuart Nadler, 2013, 9780316126489.

Committee book but the ending was no surprise. Spoilers ahead.

Told by Hilton "Hilly" Wise whose rich and famous father Arthur was a major dickhead.  Arthur becomes hugely successful after suing an airline for a crash.  Arthur buys a small house and lots of land on Cape Cod in 1952 and they move in for the summer.  Hilly kinda makes friends with the poorly paid and poorly treated black guy who works as caretaker, Lem. 

Hilly meets and goes loopy for Lem's teen niece, Savvanah. Savannah's dad is a washed up pitcher and gambling addict.  Arthur is a jerk to Lem.  Arthur's law partner, Robert, lives in a cottage on the same property and Arthur and Robert are constantly having Lem shuttle boxes and boxes of legal papers back and forth as they work on more airline lawsuits. Lem is sweating over the sand in the summer sun for $8 a week.

Hilly finds Lem reading legal papers in the sand.  Hilly wouldn't say anything but is mad at Lem so Hilly tells his father.  Papers are missing and Arthur has Lem arrested. Lem is killed in jail.  Hilly carries a bunch of guilt.

Twenty years later Arthur is mega-rich and a big political player in New York and Washington, D.C.  Hilly has forsaken his dad's money, "blood money' he calls it, and is estranged from his parents with little contact.  Hilly works for a small Boston paper and lives in a leaking apartment with his girlfriend and a broken fridge.

Hilly covers race-related stories and scours the AP wire every day looking for mention of Savannah.  He's sees Savannah's father's name in the paper for a broken window in Iowa.  Hilly flies right out.  Savannah's dad not happy to see him.  Hilly finds out Savannah is there but married. She is not happy to see Hilly.  Hilly seems to be bad luck for Savannah. Hilly gets a call from his dad while in Iowa - Hilly's girlfriend is pregnant.  Hilly heads home because what else can he do?

Thirty years later and Hilly accepted his dad's money, got married, had three daughters, his wife died, and Hilly lives in the Cape Cod house. Arthur is a still a money and power loving jerk but he does love his kid and Hilly deals with him okay.  More things happen and Hilly meets Savannah again. Hilly assuages some of his guilt over Lem.

1.  Well done book but not really my thing.
2.  Nadler has Arthur as the man who started litigation business against airlines.  He became known as the airline suing guy but also built a career as the law firm that contracted with airlines to prepare against lawsuits with disclaimers on the back of tickets.
3. Anyone could see the ending coming between Arthur and his legal partner and lifelong pal Robert.  Everyone but Hilly that is.

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