With Sophie Tucker belting from his hand-crank phonograph and a circle of boarding-school admirers laughing uproariously around him, we first meet Ben “Trouble” Pinkerton through the amazed eyes of his orphaned schoolmate Woodley Sharpless – and ever after, though their paths at times diverge, their lives continue to intersect.
Trouble, the son of Lieutenant Benjamin Pinkerton and the geisha Madame Butterfly, is being raised in the United States, by (now) Senator Pinkerton and his upper-class wife, Kate. From early on, Trouble’s privileged upbringing and rebellious charisma combine to involve him in many important events of the twentieth century: from Greenwich Village in the roaring twenties, through WPA work during the Great Depression; from secret government work outside Los Alamos, to a revelation on a Nagasaki hillside by the sea. Woodley Sharpless witnesses these events, too – along with plenty of Pinkerton family drama.
David Rain’s first novel is a high-wire act of sustained invention – as playful as it is ambitious, as moving as it is theatrical, and as historically resonant as it is evocative of the powerful bonds of friendship and of love.
Watch an interview with David about his work here.