A Disorder Peculiar to the Country
By turns hilarious, disgusting, depressing, and disappointing, Ken Kalfus’s new novel, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country restages The War of the Roses against the backdrop of 9/11. Joyce and Marshall Harriman, middle-class parents of two pre-schoolers, have decided to divorce, ”an agreement reached almost affectionately, that their marriage was not as warm as it had been.” All that reasonable affection evaporates, however, as neither is willing to vacate their tiny Brooklyn apartment before hashing out a settlement. As the World Trade Center collapses, Joyce hopes Marshall was inside; he hopes she was aboard Flight 93. Hostilities escalate wildly — both abroad and chez Harriman. Kalfus plumbs this juxtaposition for all its ugly humor, without ever providing adequate reason for the grim exercise.