Feature

Novel of the week: American Subversive by David Goodwillie

David Goodwillie’s “engrossing, sometimes very funny” debut novel is many things at once, said Jennifer Reese in NPR.org.

(Scribner, $25)

David Goodwillie’s “engrossing, sometimes very funny” debut novel is many things at once, said Jennifer Reese in NPR.org. The author “skewers the contemporary digital chattering classes” with a tale about an online gossip hound who goes hunting for a beautiful domestic terrorist—even as he takes “an earnest moral inventory of America” by letting a romance develop between the two. As clever as Goodwillie is, though, “even he can’t roll political critique, social comedy, fast-paced thriller, and mushy love story into one.” For a while, Goodwillie holds the pieces together, attempting “an exploration of what motivates radicalism in an age of disillusionment,” said Malena Watrous in The New York Times. The blonde terrorist is a memorable heroine who became radical in the wake of personal tragedy, and the jaded reporter grows to admire her. Yet the reporter’s motive often seems to be simply “attraction to a hot chick”—realistic, perhaps, but too shallow for an author as ambitious as Goodwillie.

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