Even though his firearms store is failing, things are looking up for David Rizzo. His son, Nick, has just recovered after a near-fatal overdose, which means one thing: Rizzo can use Nick's resurrection to create the most compelling television commercial for a gun emporium that the world has ever seen. After all, this is America, Rizzo tells himself. Surely anything is possible. But the relationship between father and son is fragile, mired in mutual disappointment. And when the pair embarks on their scheme to avoid bankruptcy, a high stakes crash of hijinks, hope, and disaster ensues.
Exceptional, hilarious ... It would be easy for the satire to become heavy-handed. But Sammartino is extraordinarily good at balancing the farcical nature of contemporary America with the complex humanity of his characters. He’s also a magnificent sentence writer, with a gift for pulling poetry out of an American vernacular that recalls the early work of George Saunders, and a sense of the beauty in shoddy landscapes ... While many novelists are struggling to figure out how best to address the state of the nation — centerless, ridiculous and terrifying, doomed yet trivial, dire yet unheroic — Sammartino seems to have cracked the code.
There is so much grim humor in Sammartino's debut novel, such a keen eye for the details of rage and heartbreak, such empathy for humiliation, that we enjoy the ride, wincing and laughing along the way ... Sammartino, who pulls off a hilarious "Onion"-style headline one minute and wrenches your heart the next, is a remarkable talent.