Title: Big If : A Novel
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, New York, NY, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: First Edition.
Fine unread copy protected by Archival Brodart Cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000077
A scary, funny novel?a riff on recent history and the American obsession with assassination.
It's winter in New Hampshire, the economy is booming, the vice president is running for president, and his Secret Service people are very, very tense.
Meet Vi Asplund, a young Secret Service agent mourning her dead father. She goes home to New Hampshire to see her brother Jens, a computer genius who just might be going mad?and is poised to make a fortune on Big If, a viciously nihilistic computer game aimed at teenagers. Vi's America, as she sees it in the crowds, in her brother, and in her fellow agents, is affluent, anxious, and abuzz with vague fantasies of violence.
Through a gallery of vivid characters?heroic, ignoble, or desperate?Mark Costello's hilarious novel limns the strategies, both sound and absurd, that we conjure to survive in daily life.
Review: Substantial insider detail and highly developed, creatively drawn characters help make Mark Costello's Big If a highly memorable work. Struggling to find her place in the Secret Service, Vi Asplund has accepted the high-stress position of guarding the vice president during his New Hampshire primary run. Her brother Jens, co-creator of the realistically brutal computer game Big If, can cash in his lucrative stock options soon if his increasingly troubled conscience and mental imbalance don't overwhelm him first. Both are reeling from the death of their father Walter, a respected insurance-adjusting atheist. Vi's boss Gretchen, a single mom, is trying to maintain unity among her team as well as a connection to her troubled son. Her diverse crew includes Tashmo, a veteran agent with an overactive libido, and Lloyd Felker, a revered protection theorist and creator of The Dome, the Service-implemented area of safety.
While Jens reluctantly bows to pressure from his superiors to create human-like monsters for Big If, Felker's mysterious disappearance heightens apprehensions among the team, who are increasingly uncertain about their ability to protect the vice president against a dense and volatile public. Costello offers a remarkable level of accessible and fascinating governmental information, and he's rendered his cast with inventive depth, such as Tashmo's fixation on Ronald Reagan and the woman on the Land O'Lakes logo, or Walter's habit of crossing out the word "God" on every dollar bill. Big If is a rare novel: a complex examination of conflicting American ideals that's also accessible, fun, and totally worthwhile. --Ross Doll
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