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Man About Town

By Mark Merlis

A poignant and satirical tale of one man’s struggle to overcome the ghosts of his past and make sense of the present. In this, his third novel, acclaimed author Mark Merlis artfully intertwines the pathos of loneliness with a subtle critique of the American political machine.

Joel Lingeman has it all: an overpaid sinecure advising Congress, a fifteen-year partnership with a perfectly adequate lover, a cosy circle of drinking buddies. Until one day his world implodes. His lover runs off, working for Congress starts to seem like a felony instead of a privilege, and Joel is hurled back into the dating game he couldn’t manage twenty years earlier.

Amid the rubble he finds himself clinging to an image from his boyhood: a model in a swimsuit ad, who had beckoned to young Joel to step through the page and into another life. Aided by a detective who is more elusive than his quarry, Joel sets out to discover the real person he knows only from a fading photograph.

Joel’s journey – touching, comic, and deftly observed – overlays a whip-smart critique of the cynicism and buffoonery of Capitol Hill and a gently acerbic account of how people break up and how they get together. Clever, wry, and knowing, Mark Merlis’s third novel contains an unforgettable new twist on the idea that the personal is political.