Sewer, Gas & Electric
Any dedication that reads ”For Ayn Rand” is bound to produce a frisson of trepidation in a reader, and it is with slight misgivings that many will begin this book. They are misgivings that will disappear in the turn of a page, however, for Ruff’s sophomore fictional effort is actually an inspired satire of Ms. Rand and her philosophy, complete with a childlike, winning version of the hero of Atlas Shrugged (there John Galt, here Harry Gant) and layer upon layer of sly pop references and historical twists and turns of a mind-boggling, belly-laughing sort. J.D. Salinger has his moment, as does Donald Trump, Walt Disney, Roy Cohn, and J. Edgar Hoover. They fit neatly into a narrative that encompasses the machinations of Gant (a builder/entrepreneur busy erecting a new Tower of Babel), the murder of a Wall Street takeover artist, and the subsequent investigation into his death by Gant’s ex-wife. The strains of the various stories overlap in a manner reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon, yet the effect is wholly original. Even Rand would appreciate the achievement of Sewer, Gas & Electric.