"Cuddles Houlihan got clipped by the vodka bottle as it exited the pneumatic tube. . . ." With that bottle we enter Bandbox, a hugely successful magazine of the 1920s, run by bombastic Jehoshaphat "Joe" Harris. Harris's most ambitious protégé ("the bastard son he never had") has just defected to run the competition, plunging Bandbox into a newsstand death struggle. The magazine's fight for survival will soon involve a sabotaged fiction contest, the vice squad, a subscriber's kidnapping, and a film-actress cover subject who makes the heroines of Chicago look like the girls next door. While Harris and his magazine careen from comic crisis to make-or-break calamity, the reader races from skyscraper to speakeasy.
Thomas Mallon has given us a madcap romp of a book that brilliantly portrays Manhattan in the gaudiest American decade of them all.