More than twenty-five years ago Oliver Stark’s first novel made him the voice of a generation. It was the last extraordinary event in his life – till now.
While Oliver escapes his mundane reality through the pages of history books and the Discovery channel, his wife Ann and their four children struggle to come to terms with the paradox of Oliver’s larger than life personality and his patently dull existence. Martin, the oldest Stark child and the novel’s “author” and primary narrator, is admittedly having a weak moment when he succumbs to his younger sister’s suggestion to gamble all his savings on Happy City’s first rave club. Dissatisfied with regular jobs, inane bosses, financial woes and normalcy in general, Martin, Christian and Kerry embark on an entrepreneurial adventure designed to bring them excitement, glamor and wealth; while B, the youngest Stark, wrestles with her dreams of collegiate distinction and familial attachment.
With a nothing-is-ever-simple plot, the Stark children become entangled in a menagerie of unexpected situations. They lease their venue from a New Jersey mobster turned strip-mall-tycoon. Kerry’s former boyfriend, middle aged English raver Dennis Bland, becomes romantically involved with their mother. Faced with their parents’ disintegrating marriage, a local farmer’s war on suburban expansion, petty politics and the battle over proper rave club wall colors, unlikely friendships flourish, loyalties change and unexpected allies emerge.
Everything comes to a head at the annual Strawberry Festival – a lost cadaver, the Happy City riot, Dennis and Ann’s first date, Martin’s final shift as a chef, and a so called “Act of God” that leaves the Stark children’s hopes and dreams literally up in smoke. This string of mishaps ultimately moves Oliver to act, and forces the Stark family to reevaluate who they are and who they want to be, humorously revealing the distances traveled to bring a family back together.