O’Brien returns with more cynicism about his country’s lies than ever before ... The novel is something between an absurdist satire and a bitter lamentation of that national diagnosis ... Antic, hammy, caustic and very often funny, America Fantastica is a different kind of fiction than the novels and stories for which Mr. O’Brien will likely be remembered. But as a travesty of the American dream of reinvention, it has an essential point in common with his war novels. It, too, appreciates the addictive pleasure of spinning a story, of making things up. What’s notable about the novel’s host of liars and thieves is how much they seem to be enjoying themselves.
A manic road-trip-meets-crime-spree novel ... Filled with colorful characters ... If O’Brien had just set out to write a comic misadventure, the book would certainly pass muster as entertainment. But by adding a veneer of topicality, O’Brien aims to turn his characters into case studies for a nation’s moral failure. In doing so, he burdens the book with the weight of cranky satire ... O’Brien’s book itself has a narrative credibility problem ... It is only in the end that we get a clearer understanding of Boyd’s complex relationship to the truth, and explore the nuance of what might make an otherwise honest man devote his life to lies. But without the proper setup, the reveal has little impact.
The fantastical comedy of errors, the lauded O’Brien’s first novel in many years, blends rom-com, caper, and buddy story into a relentless, skewering tale of greed, capitalism, betrayal, and ultimately, redemption. A sound bet for Elmore Leonard fans.