The Gift: A Novel
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Phillip has a lot on his mind. At home, in his unnecessarily large, excessively expensive house, he is attempting to become a Taoist
master of love with his wife, Alice, but his quest is forever being interrupted by the requests of his twin daughters -- "Can we have a pony, please?"; "We want to go to boarding school." At work, in his shed/office at the bottom of the garden, between countless games of Minesweeper and FreeCell, Phillip is trying to pay the mortgage by writing the instruction manuals to Korean bread-making machines. And at parties where he is concerned that he is not taken seriously -- he is variously mistaken as a waiter and a rhinoplastic surgeon -- Phillip tells the world he is, in fact, a screenwriter.
Above all, Phillip is obsessing about his best friends, Barry and Sean. They are rich, more successful, and, most worryingly, they give great presents. Their gifts are always exquisite -- a full set of Italian crockery, a handmade corkscrew from Venice; they give them on birthdays, at parties, and quite often for no reason whatsoever; and, increasingly, these presents break all bounds of generosity.
They are gifts that hurt a man's pride. And they can never be matched. Which doesn't mean Phillip won't try. . . .