Set during the tumultuous middle of the George W. Bush years—amidst the twin catastrophes of the Iraq insurgency and Hurricane Katrina—Landfall takes Thomas Mallon's modern political trilogy, which began with Watergate (2012) and continued through Finale( 2015), to a vivid and emotional climax.
The President at the novel's center possesses a personality whose high-speed alternations between charm and petulance, resoluteness and self-pity, continually energize and mystify the panoply of characters around him. Those include his acerbic, crafty mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush; his desperately correct and eager-to-please Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice; the gnomic and manipulative Donald Rumsfeld; foreign leaders from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin; and the caustic one-woman chorus of Ann Richards, Bush's predecessor as governor of Texas. A gallery of political and media figures, from the widowed Nancy Reagan to the philandering John Edwards to the brilliantly contrarian Christopher Hitchens, bring the novel and the era to life.
The story is deepened and driven by a love affair between two West Texans, Ross Weatherall and Allison O'Connor, whose destinies have been affixed to Bush's since they were teenagers in the 1970s. This true believer and skeptic end up exchanging ideological places in a romantic and political drama that unfolds in locations from New Orleans to Baghdad, and during the parties, press conferences and state funerals of Washington, D. C.
Landfall is the fulfillment of a contemporary epic whose previous volumes have been hailed for their "rapier wit" and "brilliant presentation," some of the qualities that prompted John Updike to pronounce Thomas Mallon "one of the most interesting American novelists at work."
"Marvelously detailed, often darkly funny, as informative as it is entertaining. Mallon may well be the 21st century's Anthony Trollope."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Fantastic . . . This novel makes a fascinating flesh-and-blood spectacle out of moments now relegated to history."
"'Landfall' is smart and knowing and absorbing. It is to novels as good studio movies are to movies — extremely well made . . . The prose is a pleasure . . . Fiction is supposed to provide glimpses inside people different from us. As a one-of-a-kind artifact of pre-2016 Late Republicanism, 'Landfall' is fascinating."
--The New York Times Book Review (front page)
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’ 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2015
A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF 2015
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH--BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2015
THE DAILY BEAST--BEST FICTION OF 2015
MIAMI HERALD--ONE OF FIVE FAVORITE FICTION BOOKS OF 2015
Finale takes readers to the political gridiron of Washington in 1986; the wealthiest enclaves of southern California; and the volcanic landscape of Iceland, where the president engages in two almost apocalyptic days of negotiation with Mikhail Gorbachev. Along with Soviet dissidents, illegal arms-traders and anti-nuclear activists, the novel’s memorable characters include Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Pamela Harriman, John W. Hinckley and even Bette Davis, with whom the President long ago appeared onscreen. Several figures—including a humbled, crafty Richard Nixon; the young, brilliantly acerbic Christopher Hitchens; and an anxious, astrology-dependent Nancy Reagan—become the eyes through which readers see the last convulsions of the Cold War, the AIDS epidemic, a clash of ideologies and a political revolution. At the center of it all—but forever out of reach—is Reagan himself, whose genial remoteness confounds his subordinates, his children, and the citizens who elected him.
"In Finale, Mallon impressively blends his singular knowledge of political history with his limitless imagination to capture an era."
In Watergate: A Novel, Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia Jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt's sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter, and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president's attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars. Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, as he turns a "third-rate burglary" into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.
"History, Mallon suggests, is not a clash of titans but just the magnified effects of ordinary people's secret longings and fears. That's nowhere more evident than in the novel's discerning portrayal of Richard Nixon . . . It's a brilliant presentation, subtle and sympathetic, but spiked with satire that captures the man in all his crippling self-consciousness . . . Mallon writes with such wit and psychological acuity as he spins this carousel of characters caught in a scandal that's constantly fracturing into new crises."
—Washington Post Book World
A searing historical novel about the competing claims of faith, love, and politics during the McCarthy era. Fellow Travelers was hailed by literary critics and has become the basis for a highly successful opera by the same name. With music by Gregory Spears and a libretto by Gregory Pierce, it has been performed and critically acclaimed in Cincinnati, New York, Chicago and Minneapolis, with further productions scheduled through 2019 and 2020 in Boston, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
"Sharp-eyed . . . Some of the most lucid prose in contemporary American literature. . . . [Mallon's] best book yet."
—Los Angeles Times
Mallon writes crisp, buoyant prose, and he has a perfect ear for his period."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Exuberant. . . . Brisk and seductive."
—The Washington Post Book World
Brilliant. . . . This is Mallon's best historical novel, period, and better than most contemporary novels of any stripe."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
A dazzling, hilarious novel that captures the heart and soul of New York in the Jazz Age.
Bandbox is a hugely successful magazine, a glamorous monthly cocktail of 1920s obsessions from the stock market to radio to gangland murder. Edited by the bombastic Jehoshaphat "Joe" Harris, the magazine has a masthead that includes, among many others, a grisly, alliterative crime writer; a shy but murderously determined copyboy; and a burned-out vaudeville correspondent who's lovesick for his loyal, dewy assistant.
A madcap and poignant book that brilliantly portrays the gaudiest American decade of them all.
"One of the best-written, most fully imagined, most linguistically perfect novels published in recent years . . . A generous tour de force."
--Kaye Gibbons, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution