Set against the backdrop of an unnamed but recognizable American presidency, Tim O'Brien's black comedy, America Fantastica, an Indie Next Pick, takes both the dark and the comic to epic proportions with simultaneous absurdism and poignancy. O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried, offers his first novel in more than 20 years--making it one of the year's most hotly anticipated titles--and he delivers, with a sprawling, madcap tale of road trips, crimes large and small, love, loss, and, most of all, lying.
Readers first meet O'Brien's antihero, Boyd, in action. He departs his Kiwanis brunch early to head to the bank, where he presents a gun and leaves with just under $81,000 and the teller, "a diminutive redhead named Angie Bing." Boyd and Angie hit the road. Their travels prompt movements by an increasingly colorful cast of bizarre characters. These characters and events, in a series of deftly drawn American locales, form a fantasmagoria, a version of reality that both bizarrely exaggerates and digs directly into the emotional truth of the real world. O'Brien demonstrates an electric combination of deadpan humor, vicious wit, and a masterful eye for detail in capturing a peculiarly American form of torment. --Julia Kastner