“I am a reliable narrator. Unusually reliable. Trust me.”
Composing her memoirs, onetime Supreme Court nominee Karen Hollander tells us up front that she is going to reveal the truth about a deadly incident from her radical past. But despite that irresistible beginning, she doesn’t actually remember or know everything she wants to put in her book. She interviews old friends and even has herself investigated by a CIA-operative lover, but her old compatriots don’t share her eagerness to have their dark secret come to light. As Andersen creates spellbinding suspense through a careful dissemination of information, spy games, real and imagined, thread the plot together. A child of privilege on Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, Hollander acted out James Bond novels with friends. The “missions” grew in seriousness when she became a college student outraged by Vietnam. In the present, a trip to a G20 summit as her granddaughter’s chaperone provides both contemporary context and a comparison of protest movements separated by half a century. This is an ambitious and remarkable novel, wonderfully voiced, about memory, secrets, guilt, and the dangers of certitude. Moreover, it asks essential questions about what it means to be an American and, in a sense, what it means to be America. Andersen’s best yet.
— Keir Graff