The International Garage Sale

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Alec Lessing returns to New York with an apparent demotion, being assigned to cover the WEB, or World Body, a thinly disguised parody of the United Nations. He is at first unable to penetrate the cliques of people in the know but is soon deeply involved, and at risk, in an attempt to expose the deals made at the “Garage Sale.”

No groups or individuals are spared from parody; the first, second, and Third-World countries, and especially the networks and politicians are presented in comic parodies of themselves as they machinate to maintain the status quo and enrich themselves while doing it. A major subplot tells of Lessing’s divorce and attempt to retain some relationship with his daughter and former wife.

Alec Lessing discovers quickly that the transfer to coverage of the WEB is not as bland as it seems. His predecessor was apparently killed, and large payoffs are occurring with little attempt at concealment. Together with his father, an aging magician called the Wizard, and a fellow journalist known as Crow, he begins to penetrate an ever-expanding conspiracy of global arms sales.

Stefan Kanfer is a senior editor of TIME magazine, and in this, his third novel, he displays an urbanity which is only rarely too glib. This tongue-in-cheek look at contemporary international dealings is, on one level, a well-told suspense story in which knowing too much can be fatal, but at the same time, it is a commentary on global politics presented from the perspective of satire.