A deftly satirical first novel chronicling thirty-two years in the life of a spectacularly dysfunctional California family.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Vietnam, and the Kennedy assassination, Andrew Kelbow's idyllic life in the San Fernando Valley - all swimming pools and tennis lessons, Technicolor and Formica, Stingray bikes and Mexican cleaning ladies - is disrupted one day when his entertainment-lawyer father leaves his mother under a cherry tree in the Mojave desert.
How do the Kelbows handle such upheaval in the years that follow? In denial, mostly: they're pathologically happy-go-lucky, chronically unengaged. Gastronomic, nuptial, seismic, musical, and cinematic diversions, along with a healthy dose of illicit drug use, gambling, truancy, and political activism, keep the family functioning - but barely. As the Kelbow family pushes the fine line between the Eastern notion of living in the moment and the California hedonism of instant gratification, cansimultaneously over-and underachieving Andrew focus enough to imagine his way out of this lunatic paradise?