Sounding the Watersby James Glickman
Ben Shamas has spent the five years since the accidental drowning of his daughter in a carefully circumscribed routine. Between long hours of work at his law practice and the occasional quiet weekend bender, he has managed to avoid thinking about his daughter, his failed marriage, or his future. Then events break in on his comfortable numbness. Ben's oldest friend,… See more details below
Ben Shamas has spent the five years since the accidental drowning of his daughter in a carefully circumscribed routine. Between long hours of work at his law practice and the occasional quiet weekend bender, he has managed to avoid thinking about his daughter, his failed marriage, or his future. Then events break in on his comfortable numbness. Ben's oldest friend, Bobby Parrish, asks him to help run his campaign for the U.S. Senate, in what promises to be a bitter contest against a ruthless opponent. Ben's involvement in the campaign draws him out of his emotional shell, but as the heat of the campaign becomes intense, this brings on different dangers. Bobby's wife, Laura, was Ben's first love. As she turns to Ben for the attention Bobby has single-mindedly focused on the campaign, Ben is brought face to face with the past he has been ignoring, with his sense of loss and roads not taken. Meanwhile, the opposition has been digging into Bobby's personal history in search of anything they can use against him. What they find - and how Ben responds - could not only end Bobby's political career, but change the lives of all three friends forever.
When we first meet Ben Shamas, he is having a hard time of it: Two years after the death of his only child, he has divorced his wife, left his law firm, and lost his ambition. Although he allows himself an occasional drunken binge, work has become his preferred escape: "Most activities that cause you to forget your preoccupations, who you are, or what day it isdrugs, alcohol, sex, violent exerciseare transitory or have unpleasant sequels, or both. But work is safe and predictable." Ben plods cheerlessly away as an appeals attorney and tries not to dwell on things until Jeannie Parrish, a childhood friend, comes to him with a problem. Jeannie's brother Bobby is running for the US Senate, and Jeannie is worried that a shady real-estate deal she made a few years back will be found out and used against Bobby in the campaign. Can Ben help? He tries, and is quickly enmeshed in an escalating series of intrigues and political dirty tricks. An old college classmate threatens to expose Bobby as a quondam acid-head; the opposing candidate's campaign manager (a childhood friend of Ben's) discovers that Bobby was treated by a psychiatrist. As if this weren't enough, Bobby's wife (once Ben's girlfriend) starts coming on to Ben over telephones that turn out to be tapped. The overriding motive for all the schemes seems to be vengeance; neither the problems themselves nor the anger behind them turns out to be especially deep, however, since in the end they are cleared up quickly, neatly, and with small surprise.
A skillful exposition of very little: Glickman seems to have mastered the politician's art of using rhetoric to inflate the mundane without transfiguring its shape.
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