Marty Williams, an Obama speechwriter, does not get the promised administration job, cannot return to the newspaper because it is closing, loses everything, and sets out in a snowstorm with all he has left, his car and his dog, for California where his picaresque adventures begin -- romance, the movie business, dining with political elites to living out of his car, a panorama of people in the world of woes we know today, and a president elect assassination plot unjustly tied to Marty.
The novel begins with a flashback, a dream Marty has about being in a firefight as an imbedded journalist with Marines in Afghanistan, on the eve of the first election, and ends on the day of the inauguration.
The novel is not about the politics, didactic or polemical.
It is Marty's story and the story of those he meets as he struggles to remain true to himself under the most difficult circumstances. In this way, MR. BLACK AND WHITE becomes everyone's story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mr. Black and White is unlike any contemporary American novel I know. Although there is a political background, the book is about a broad swath of characters across the land whose lives intersect with Marty, a former Obama speechwriter, the protagonist who is sometimes treated as a celebrity even if he‘s a lost soul, as he travels to find a home, if not himself, in a country where dreams never seem to mesh with reality, whether for young or old. The book starts in Vermont but is primarily set in various places in California. Marty is homeless most of the time, if not a perennial house guest of one party or another, but this allows us to enter into the characters’ lives. There is a lot of talk around tables, and a lot of food and wine, almost the feel of an ex-patriot novel which is virtually how Marty comes to see himself. Some of the characters are especially touching like Hector, the war weary Marine, or Rudi, a heartbreaking old man who believes in the movie business even if it doesn’t believe in him. There is beautiful descriptive writing and dead on dialogue that moves this novel along. There is also a dog story, here, and at least two love affairs. The assortment of characters is rich. They are not types but real people, imperfect, sometimes annoying, perplexing, but also touching. There is also a thread of satire that allows the author swings in mood, characterization, and plot. This is the novel that gives us a vision of the world we’re in, where we’ve come, where we’re going.