Through baseball (although not too much!), finance, media, and religion, Christopher Beha traces the passing of the torch from the old establishment to the new meritocracy, exploring how each generation’s failure helped land us where we are today.
THE INDEX OF SELF-DESTRUCTIVE ACTS
by Christopher Beha
Tin House, May 2020
The day Sam Waxworth arrives in New York to write for the Interviewer, a street-corner preacher declares that the world is coming to an end. A data journalist and recent media celebrity―he correctly forecasted every outcome of the 2008 election―Sam knows a few things about predicting the future. But when projection meets reality, things turn complicated. Sam’s assigned a profile of disgraced political columnist Frank Doyle, a liberal lion turned neocon Iraq-war apologist and author of the great works of baseball lore that first sparked Sam’s love of the game (books he now views as childish myth-making to be crushed with his empirical hammer). But Doyle is convincing in person, charming and intelligent. Sam takes a liking to him, and to his daughter, Margo, with whom Sam becomes involved―just as his wife, Lucy, arrives from Wisconsin. It’s a precarious moment for the Doyle family. Kit, the matriarch, lost her investment bank to the financial crisis; Eddie, their son, hasn’t been the same since his second combat tour in Iraq; Eddie’s best friend from childhood, the fantastically successful hedge funder Justin Price, is starting to see cracks in his spotless public image. So while the end of the world might not be arriving, Beha’s characters appear to be headed for apocalypses of their own making.
Christopher Beha is the Executive Editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of a memoir, The Whole Five Feet, and the novels Arts & Entertainments and What Happened to Sophie Wilder. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, the New York Times Book Review, and the London Review of Books, among other publications.