By Rupert Thomson
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375702204, 320pp.)
Publication Date: January 25, 2000
List Price: $15.95*
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Former bouncer Barker Dodds wants nothing more than to flee his violent past in his native Plymouth for an uncertain new existence as a barber in London's colorful East End. Waif-like Glade Spencer drifts through life as a waitress at a fashionable Soho restaurant, a devoted daughter to her estranged, caravan-dwelling father, and a long-distance girlfriend to an unpredictable American lawyer. And ambitious soft drink branch manager Jimmy Lyle is eager to please his new American boss with a revolutionary marketing strategy for Soft!, one that promises to make the new orange-colored beverage a soda sensation for the twenty-first century.
It is under that effervescent orange glow that these three disparate souls intersect, as each learns "there is nothing soft about the soft drink industry." When unsuspecting "Soft! ambassador" Glade begins to unravel from her subconscious obsession with a product she's never tried, Jimmy's top-secret campaign threatens to spill into the daily papers, and Barker once again finds himself employed as a thug-for-hire. At turns harrowing and darkly humorous, Soft! is a magnificently surreal story, one that New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani calls "Rupert Thomson's most powerful novel yet."