This Is How It Starts by Grant Ginder
A University of Pennsylvania graduate moves to Washington, D.C., to work as a congressional aide in Ginder’s lightly cynical Bright Lights, Big City treatment of Washington. Taylor Mark seems more interested in Late Night Shots parties (a displaced WASP social phenomenon) than political parties as he learns the ropes on Capital Hill, so the political satire feels mild compared to the social commentary Ginder offers about the Beltway social scene. Taylor begins an affair with his congressman’s unhappy wife (she’s a “gorgeous disaster”) and begins to doubt the character of his super-wealthy best friend, Chase Latham, son of a prominent Republican lobbyist who has a thing going with Taylor’s cousin. But it seems Ginder has never met a cliché he didn’t want to enshrine: here, wives of wealthy husbands are catty, gay men write gossip columns, rich guys are laddish boors and their parents are absent, medicated or disapproving. Although light on plot and character development, the author does manage to expose the Hill rat lifestyle with some scalpel-sharp observations, showing that snobbery and envy are bipartisan values.