Adam Gardner, a biologist, lives in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. He is about to be 70, he has always been bipolar, and he’s secretly adjusting his meds to take one last shot at a Nobel-sized discovery. His son, Ken, is making a fortune in real estate and running for Congress as a Republican. His daughter Abby is making a name for herself in the art world. It’s going to be one hell of a birthday party.
This is a quietly accomplished book, not least because it borrows some old-fashioned tools (a psychoanalyst for buckets of elliptical exposition, a regrettable will to foul things up, and an off-duty copy to unsettle everyone) for very contemporary ends.