January 9, 2012: “Expectations” by John Lanchester
This appears to be an excerpt from Lanchester’s forthcoming novel called Capital, which the excerpt is all about. It’s an amusing read because the main characters are comically obnoxious, but that’s about all it has going for it.
Roger is an investment banker in London, and he’s anticipating a year-end bonus of a million pounds. Maybe more! After all, the department he manages, foreign exchange, made a bundle for the bank during the year. And although other parts of the bank didn’t do so well, Roger has earned his bonus! And he needs that bonus, too, because he and his wife are a bit over extended on the posh house that they did an extensive remodel on and the country place (and the cars and servants, etc., etc.). And then there’s the wife, who, despite the cars and the servants, thinks Roger doesn’t understand how hard she works to raise their boys (there are nannies), and so she plots to send him a very strong message.
John is surprised by his bonus, but not terribly surprised by the message his wife sends . . .
It’s pretty hard to care about these people in the context of this excerpt, but maybe they’d be more likeable in the novel.
[Edited to add: When I wrote the above, the Q&A with John Lanchester had not yet appeared on the magazine's website. Among other things, the author confirms that the "story" is excerpted from the forthcoming novel.]