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Heart Seizure
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Heart Seizure

3.6 3
by Bill Fitzhugh

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Spence Tailor, a lawyer with an actual set of principals, loves his mama, Rose. Rose—with advanced cardiomyopathy and a rare blood type—is scheduled for a heart transplant. But when the president's heart craps out during a photo op three months before the national election, the White House chief of staff orders the FBI to seize the heart that was going


Spence Tailor, a lawyer with an actual set of principals, loves his mama, Rose. Rose—with advanced cardiomyopathy and a rare blood type—is scheduled for a heart transplant. But when the president's heart craps out during a photo op three months before the national election, the White House chief of staff orders the FBI to seize the heart that was going to Rose—all in the name of democracy. But Spence isn't about to let anybody steal what rightfully belongs to his mom. So with the help of his reluctant older brother, they hijack the heart, inadvertently kidnap a beautiful cardiac surgery resident, and take to the road in a '65 Mustang—with all the president's men in potentially murderous pursuit.

Editorial Reviews

Kinky Friedman
“A sick, funny book … for a sick, funny world.”
Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Fitzhugh knows how a good dose of black humor is good medicine. No subject is taboo.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Genuinely funny...skewers celebrities, politicians, soccer moms, HMOs, TV newshounds and the military — but no necessarily in that order.”
Publishers Weekly
It seems an unlikely setup for a laugh riot, but this satirical novel by Fitzhugh (Pest Control) kicks off with hero Spence Tailor's mother, Rose, on her deathbed in Los Angeles, at the top of the list for a heart transplant. Just when a heart finally comes in, it turns out that the president needs it, too, and the FBI prepares to whisk the organ to Washington, D.C. But Spence has had it with endless delays. The scruffy 39-year-old is an embattled do-gooder lawyer who's just been dumped by his girlfriend; his nerves are already frayed, and he's not about to let anyone get away with the heart-especially not the president. So he and his stodgy banker brother, Boyd, don ski masks, evade FBI agents, distract the surgical resident (by pulling her scrubs down) and steal the heart. Thus begins a zany cross-country chase whose L.A.-Washington axis allows Fitzhugh to skewer both politicians and celebrities, not to mention TV newshounds, HMOs, soccer moms and other features of contemporary life. He builds a complex plot with dozens of believable-if broadly drawn-characters, most of whom share the same two traits: deep political or family commitments contradicted by self-serving impulses. The humor occasionally devolves into slapstick and corny jokes (a drug designed to treat erectile dysfunction is called Mycoxaflopin), yet much of the novel is genuinely funny (especially a memorable description of political jockeying at a suburban parents' association meeting). While Fitzhugh's perspective is definitely left of center, his satiric eye spares no one. Agent, James Vines. 6-city author tour. (Mar. 18) FYI: Film rights to Fitzhugh's earlier novels Cross Dressing and Pest Control have been sold to Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers, respectively. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Anyone who considers the cudgel the weapon of choice in satire's armory should welcome Fitzhugh's latest. Here he grafts jibes at the healthcare industry and the political circus onto his old interest in organ transplants (see Organ Grinders). When a Hollywood stunt man with a rare blood type dies, his heart is up for grabs. Just as feisty senior Rose Tailor's heart transplant is getting underway, FBI/CIA goons swoop down via helicopter in an effort to snare the organ on behalf of their President; he's been seen on TV having what is spun as a "fainting spell" but is really a heart attack. Rose's sons then flee across the desert with their drugged mother in tow, the heart throbbing away in some futuristic device and a physician at the ready. Forced to commandeer a whole string of improbable vehicles along the way, they pick up an LAPD officer, a white, teenage Rastafarian, and a Mormon basketball team. Meanwhile, the whole unruly mob is tracked by two thugs belonging to Sen. Peggy Check, a rival presidential candidate. If the whole thing smacks of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, that's probably no accident. Rousing, lightweight fun-just don't expect Voltaire. For larger public libraries and wherever Fitzhugh's other novels are popular.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pair of loving but ill-prepared brothers take on the minions of the presidential machinery who have medical designs on a heart intended for the lads’ mum. Fitzhugh (Fender Benders, 2001, etc.) slathers on the satire, sparing no excess in a sendup of medical/hospital/HMO and presidential evil doings featuring an ever growing cast of ever wilder characters blundering from LA to Salt Lake City as they dodge pursuers from warring Washington factions. Sweet 60-ish Rose Tailor is at the center of this pleasant nonsense about hearts and powers. Rose’s ticker is down to its last few beats when word comes that she’s finally at the top of the list of transplant patients. She’s had to wait unusually long because of her AB negative blood type, a type shared by America’s current president, whose dastardly chief of staff Martin Brooks believes the country would be better off not knowing that the Chief Executive isn’t really sturdy enough for the approaching election. So, just as West Coast transplant trainee Dr. Debbie Robbins is scrubbing up to pop a nice new heart into Rose, an FBI agent dispatched by Brooks informs her that there’s a higher place for it. But Washington hasn’t reckoned on Rose’s sons Spence and Boyd, bleeding-heart lawyer and chickenhearted banker respectively, who snatch organ and surgeon, scoop up their sedated mum, shanghai a closeted gay California Highway Patrolman, and cram them all into a 1965 Mustang, starting a trek for a new transplant venue. They’re pursued not only by the president’s goons but by Men in Black sent by the president’s comely rival, who thinks it might advance her cause if that heart didn’t make it into the executive thorax. Guided by desperation,ringleader Spence and reluctant brother Boyd head eastward in increasingly bizarre vehicles until they come to a Major Mormon Hospital, arriving in a Mormon school bus populated by nearly everyone they’ve met on the way. Harmless fun, with some good thwacks at America’s idiotic health system.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Heart Seizure
A Novel

Chapter One

Unchain My Heart

Pete was hauling ass. He was driving a bloodred Dodge Viper with a 450-horsepower V-10. In his rearview Pete could see LAPD chasing as if he'd killed a cop.

It was daybreak. The sun warmed the particulates in the air above Los Angeles. Another tequila sunrise. They were in the hills of Encino. The roads were narrow and winding like a snake, but the Viper hung tight. After a series of daring turns, Pete assumed the confident look of a man who believed he had gotten away. He started to laugh until he fishtailed around a corner and saw ten police cars blocking the road.

There was only one way out, and it was a long shot. The sort of thing to make even a stunt driver hesitate. But Pete accelerated. There was a splinter of space between one end of the police barricade and a house on the corner lot. At the last second, with police firing like an antiaircraft battery, Pete cut the wheels. He slipped the Viper through the tiny space in a blister of sparks, shearing off both side mirrors. Pete saw a flash of Looney Tunes as he raced past a big-screen television in the living room. He crashed out the bay window on the other side and went airborne. When Pete landed, he lost control. His seat belt tore loose as the Viper rolled violently down the hill. It finally slammed to a stop against a huge metal light pole and burst into flames.

Almost immediately a dozen men and women with chemical extinguishers were putting out the fire. A woman raced over, dropping to her hands and knees. She leaned into the overturned car. She saw that the roll cage had buckled. "Hey! Mardell! You okay?." There was no reply.

His real name was Mardell Coleman. Pete was just a character in another over-budget action movie. Mardell was a stunt driver -- "was" being the operative word. His helmet had cracked like a three-minute egg, and he was slipping into a coma. "Get an ambulance!" the woman yelled.

As they dragged Mardell from the car, a Shotmaker camera truck pulled up. From his elevated seat the film's director looked down at the carnage, deeply saddened. He considered the trouble of finding a new driver, then turned to his director of photography. "I think that's a keeper, don't you?"

- - - - - -

Spence Tailor didn't really have a suit personality. There were only three occasions for which he would wear one: funerals, court appearances, weddings. Now that he was thirty-nine, the majority of his friends were already married, so he rarely got invited to weddings anymore. Like most people, Spence did his best to stay out of court, but he was a litigator, so it was hard to avoid altogether. When he was standing in the halls of the courthouse with his shaggy blond hair and his coat buttoned against his trim build, Spence could have been an older surfer going to trial for holding a little weed. He had a compassionate bearing and soothing brown eyes, but they weren't looking at a courtroom today.

Spence stood at the back of the crowd with hands folded as they lowered Alan Caplan's casket into the ground. Respectful and unobtrusive. He wasn't family, and he'd met the deceased only a couple of times, briefly. Still, he couldn't help but cry. The boy was just fifteen, a real sweet kid. Never even got his driver's license. How crappy is that? Spence thought.

It happened like this. Alan's father came to Spence for help late one afternoon, just walked in and sat down, unannounced. In his work Spence saw a lot of people in hard circumstances. Mr. Caplan looked exhausted and overwhelmed, unsure where to start. After a moment he got the words out. "Do you know how painful bone cancer is, Mr. Tailor?"

Spence looked at the weary older man and shook his head. "No, sir, I don't."

Mr. Caplan told the sort of story Spence had heard too many times. Fifteen-year-old with bone cancer in his femur and his scapula. Osteosarcoma. Unremitting pain. Expensive treatment the HMO deemed inappropriate and refused to pay for, knowing the patient would die long before a lawsuit might force them to change policy. Good way to keep costs down. "You can see how much he hurts." The words came hard. "It's awful being so close, standing right there, not being able to help your own child."

"How long did the doctors say he had, Mr. Caplan?"

"Long enough to suffer more than anyone should have to." He couldn't seem to look Spence in the eye. Too ashamed he couldn't do more. I spent all I had for some treatments, but they weren't enough." Mr. Caplan put a hand over his eyes. "All he wants now is to die, with some dignity, you know?"

"Yes, sir. I understand." Spence knew he'd take the case. Man's institutional inhumanity to his fellowman was the sort of thing that triggered a switch inside. Spence lived to fight for causes. But it wouldn't be easy. A lot of things working against them. He wished he could give Mr. Caplan assurances, but he knew the truth was better. I assume you know that, uh, euthanasia is illegal inCalifornia?"

Mr. Caplan wiped his eyes and looked at Spence. "What I know is, it's his life, and nobody -- not me, not the government, not some church group -- nobody gets to decide what he can and can't do with it at this point. Not now. He's going to die soon. He just wants to take control of the process instead of having it control him. He wants to make the last decision of his life, you know?"

Spence nodded respectfully. "Have you contacted any organizations -- "

Heart Seizure
A Novel
. Copyright © by Bill Fitzhugh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Kinky Friedman
“A sick, funny book … for a sick, funny world.”

Meet the Author

Bill Fitzhugh is the author of seven novels. He still has all of his original organs and plans to keep it that way until the very end, at which point he is willing to let the doctors divvy them up among anyone (with the exception of politicians) who might need them. However, he makes no promises about the quality of his liver. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and all of her organs.

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Heart Seizure 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'If you're looking for an easy, whacky kind of book that portrays politcians as the bad guys this may be one to choose. It was fast paced and quick to get through. When I would describe the plot sequence to my friends they would get a good chuckle. I enjoyed most of the characters too (although some I couldn't figure out why they were in the story) I might have given it 4 stars except I felt it could have been 100 pages shorter (enough already) and due to the fact some innocent bystanders were killed whereas an injury might have achieved the same effect-I know that sounds odd but read the book and you'll know what I'm trying to say here. This was my first of Fitzhugh's book and will probably pick up another for a time that I really need time to pass quickly.'
harstan More than 1 year ago
Rose Tailor needs a heart transplant, but her AB blood type makes her need the rarest of organs. Over time Rose works her way to the top of the AB list and is the person to receive the next heart. However, while on the campaign trail for reelection doing the ¿required¿ Clinton fitness jog, President Webster collapses. Rushed to the hospital, he needs an AB heart transplant............................. When stunt car driver Mardell Coleman dies in a crash leaving his AB ticker in place, all the president¿s men jump the conga line to take the heart while Rose¿s two adult sons, attorney Spence and banker Boyd, think otherwise. The competition seems unfair as Webster only has the FBI while Tailor has only her two sons who have slew nothing. The mad, mad, mad world chase begins with one heart for whoever proves to be the worthier warrior....................................... HEART SEIZURE is a wild satire that skews many of the sacred icons of American society especially the notion of fair play when the upper elite or the bottom line competes against the multitude of middle masses. The novel turns the ¿Stupid White Man¿s¿ calendar into a full Keystone Cop¿s parody of the hallowed symbols of equality. Though relationships outside the Tailor family and the governmental vertical organization are never developed, the cast in its zany way makes the story work. Fans who want to see the other side of the rest of the story will relish Bill Fitzhugh¿s latest skin ripper, but clearly more cheers will come from the supporters of Bernie Sanders than those who are always right............................... Harriet Klausner