An American Master returns: The author of The Things They Carried delivers his first new novel in two decades, a brilliant and rollicking odyssey, in which a bank robbery by a disgraced journalist sparks a cross-country chase through a nation corroded by shameless delusion and deceit.
by Tim O’Brien
Mariner Books/HarperCollins, October 2023
At 11:34 a.m. one Saturday in August 2019, Boyd Halverson strode into Community National Bank in northern California.
“How much is on hand, would you say?” he asked the teller. “I’ll want it all.”
“You’re robbing me?”
“Not you,” Boyd replied, revealing a Temptation .38 Special.
Angie Bing, the teller, scraped together $81,000.
Boyd stuffed the cash into a paper grocery bag. “I’m sorry about this,” he said, “but I’ll have to ask you to take a ride with me. …”
So begins the adventure of Boyd Halverson—star journalist turned notorious online disinformation troll turned JC Penny manager—and his irrepressible hostage, Angie Bing. Haunted by his past and weary of his present, Boyd has one goal before the authorities catch up with him: settle a score with the man who destroyed his life. By Monday Boyd and Angie reach Mexico; by winter, they are in a lakefront mansion in Minnesota. On their trail are hitmen, jealous lovers, ex-cons, an heiress, a billionaire shipping tycoon, a three-tour veteran of Iraq, and the ghosts of Boyd’s past. Everyone, it seems, except the police.
AMERICA FANTASTICA marks the triumphant return of an essential voice in American letters. Just as O’Brien’s modern classic, The Things They Carried, so brilliantly reflected the unromantic truth of war, AMERICA FANTASTICA puts a mirror to a nation and a time that has become dangerously unmoored from truth and greedy for delusion.
Tim O’Brien received the 1979 National Book Award for Going After Cacciato. Among his other books are The Things They Carried, Pulitzer finalist and a New York Times Book of the Century and In the Lake of the Woods, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. He was awarded the Pritzker Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing in 2013.