"W""hen Bad Things Happen to Rich People" is a novel of social satire, a black comedy set in Chicago in the summer of 1995. The novel s protagonist, Nix Walters, is an adjunct instructor of English at a communications college in the loop with few prospects for advancement. He had become a literary punch line when his novel, touted as the next big literary phenomenon, was universally panned by critics. He and his pregnant wife, Flora, are struggling financially; however, their fortunes change when Nix is asked to ghostwrite the memoirs of publishing magnate Zira Fontaine. While grateful for a lavish author fee, Nix quickly finds his marriage, his career, and his sense of identity threatened as he struggles with a difficult subject, navigates office intrigue of Fontaine s corporation, and faces impending fatherhood. These tensions come to a turbulent climax when a brutal heat wave hits the city.
Written in the spirit of great naturalist novelists of the previous century, such as Dreiser, Norris, and Crane, with a black comic twist, Morris s first novel is a study in aspiration and self-deception in the face of unforeseen adversity. Set among the broad lawns of Lake Forest where the domestic staff skim leaves from the pool and the sweltering streets of Chicago s pre-gentrified Wicker Park neighborhood, where children plunge into the raging stream of open fire hydrants, "When Bad Things Happen to Rich People" is a broad panorama of our current social reality."
When Bad Things Happen to Rich People
Northern Illinois University Press