The Pequod Review:
Joseph Heller's Good as Gold is the story of Bruce Gold, a middle-aged English professor from a working class Jewish background, unhappy in his marriage and unsuccessful in his career. His unremarkable articles and books (of “fiery caution and crusading inertia”) are generally ignored, but when he writes a favorable review of a book by the President he finds himself welcomed into the world of politics. So enamored are Washington politicians with Gold’s vapid musings that the administration eventually offers him the position of Secretary of State. What follows is not just a very funny satire of political careerism, but a more serious exploration of identity, the role of the intellectual, and authenticity.
The story is a bit too predictable, as Gold cynically trades his liberal beliefs for pretend conservative ones (the reverse would have been in some ways less cliched), and many of the back-room political machinations are crude and exaggerated. But Gold is an entertainingly desperate character, and the book develops strong narrative momentum. The result is Heller’s most underrated book, and in many ways his best.