BOOK REVIEW: All That Glitters

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When it snows at Pineapple Hill, my beach house in a cow pasture in rural South Carolina, nothing seems the way it should be: the palm trees and bamboo, the hot tub, the Tongan sailing skiff, the old Jeep without a top. It’s like Aspen faceplanted in Ft. Lauderdale. I close the blinds and crawl beneath a thick wool blanket from Mexico—bringing a book and a tumbler of Buffalo Trace bourbon with me, and I don’t come out until this certain weather girl from channel four says it’s gonna be alright again. Bears do the same thing. So do the hitchhikers taking refuge in refrigerator boxes along I-65 near Bowling Green, Kentucky (been there, done that).

It would have been four days of time I’d have nothing to show for had the book not been Mickey J. Corrigan’s All That Glitters.

The story begins with a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a nightmare reading assignment if you’re a high school punk dating the homecoming queen. For me it was better to wait a few decades and see the movie—Ferris Bueller and Leonardo di Caprio were in it. I got a bucket of popcorn and a giant Coke when I saw the movie. I got a D when I read the book. But I digress. The quote goes like this: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

So true. Story of my life. Tattooed on my forehead. So, yeah Mickey, you had me at “hello.”

And then her story opens with a right on and perfectly flush description of the Palm Beach elite as the coconut oil slathered twin to Gatsby’s newly rich and fashionable West Egg (NY) people. The parallels are a lot of fun, way more fun than high school English class. In this case, the tale is spun through the situation of a female observer living in a guest house offered by her über-wealthy best friend. Descriptions of what she sees range from “those liquid gold eyes, the tawny skin, the blazing white smile” to “I sat in windowless bars when the afternoon light had yet to dim, commiserating with the wrinkled ladies who thought life was a swift kick in the head.” And that’s just up to page five.

So, yes, in a way it’s a remake of that Gatsby yarn. But then Corrigan adds an interesting side spin with the inclusion of a jet setting pedophile named Jeffrey Getzstein, the resident known to all of Palm Beach as a zillionaire pimping teenyboppers to other zillionaires: royals, past presidents, captains of industry, Hollywood hot shots, and others not outed by the  mainstream media. So there’s that.

Corrigan fleshes out her characters as if it’s a wine tasting event that includes seven courses of food. She constructs the various alliances and deceptions as if staging a French Colonial waltz masquerade ball—making those marionette puppets circle and retreat, daggers hidden behind their backs as Beethoven plays. And, too, because this author’s pretty freaking brainy and into changing the world’s wrongs—indifferent economic disparities and saving sea life and coral reefs and such—these things are threaded into the plot as well.  She sets all this on the table for you like a poolside lunch of mimosas and arugula and pine nut salad.

You accept the invitation, hoping your table manners are good enough. You get into it. You read it all the way through, stopping only to readjust the Mexican blanket and sweeten that tumbler back up. At the end you go back with a marker and highlight bits you want to save for when the Apocalypse comes. For instance, “Overcast days were best, reflecting my interior mood as the darkened ocean beside me gnashed, groaned, or held the quiet, brooding in and out with consistent, deeply mysterious sighs.” You read that and the other lines again and again and go, “Shit, why isn’t this chick famous?” It makes you drink more than you should. You don’t remember falling asleep, but when you wake there’s a note saying to have a nice day and try not to burn the house down.

That’s when it hits you that you dreamed Jeffry Epstein was your high school English teacher and you were living back in Florida again. What a nightmare!

Mickey Corrigan’s latest novel, All That Glitters, is available from the publisher and online, including here at Amazon.