The fol­low­ing is from Paul Gold­bergs nov­el, The Château. Gold­berg’s debut nov­el The Yid was pub­lished in 2016 to wide­spread acclaim and named a final­ist for both the Sami Rohr Prize for Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture and the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards Gold­berg Prize for Debut Fiction.

Bill pass­es the secu­ri­ty gate at 6:17 a.m.

He is not the first inhab­i­tant of the Château to step out into darkness.

Three oth­ers — sad-faced men cir­ca sev­en­ty-five, plus/​minus ten — stand out­side the build­ing, wait­ing patient­ly as their lit­tle white dogs con­tem­plate emp­ty­ing their tiny blad­ders and bowels.

There is a joke about such men:

Why do Jew­ish men die before their wives? Because they want to.

It’s pos­si­ble that these men are goy­im, but the joke still stands. Goy­im are peo­ple. This is about dogs. These dogs aren’t dogs. All three — no, wait, there are four … All four are well under the weight lim­it of fif­teen pounds spec­i­fied in the con­do dos and don’ts” Bill noticed on the Web site. He hap­pened to click on pets”; he has no idea why.

These dogs don’t appre­hend tiny bad guys, they don’t sniff out lit­tle explo­sives or baby cadav­ers, but they do have a mis­sion: they sub­sti­tute for the grand­chil­dren who don’t come to visit.

They aren’t espe­cial­ly good at breath­ing, which is why they some­times ride in baby strollers. They spend their days lis­ten­ing to com­plaints, about mom­my,” about dad­dy,” about the sad­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ing phys­i­cal and (alleged­ly) men­tal health of both, about doc­tors who over­charge while fail­ing to acknowl­edge the obvi­ous signs of mini-strokes and myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome, about Oba­macare, about unap­pre­cia­tive, rude fam­i­ly mem­bers, and, of course, about crooked con­do boards. Svolochi

The dogs lis­ten and they wheeze. If they could kill them­selves, they would. When you are small­er than a cat and lack oppos­able thumbs, it’s hard to pull the trigger.

Why do these dogs get Prozac? Because they need it.

Bill runs past the silent, scoop­er-wield­ing sen­tries at the Château’s gates and heads north on Ocean Drive.

It seems all the build­ings around him are shed­ding their bal­conies. Steel rebar pro­trudes from their sides, await­ing encase­ment in concrete.

Imag­ine replac­ing all the bal­conies on one of these forty-year-old high-ris­es. You don’t do it through com­pet­i­tive bids. You do it pur­suant to local cus­toms. Deals are con­clud­ed on char­tered boats 12.1 miles off­shore, out­side U.S. ter­ri­to­r­i­al waters.

Bill has done his home­work. He has enhanced his con­sid­er­able pri­or knowl­edge with assis­tance from Messrs. Google and Koza­chok. He has read up on local busi­ness prac­tices and, what do you know, Melsor’s sto­ries check out. Out there, in open sea, with only Flip­per as their wit­ness, con­trac­tors har­mo­nize to make a $2 mil­lion job into a $6 mil­lion job with anoth­er $3.7 mil­lion hid­ing in change orders. You can make a lot on the main job, but don’t neglect the change orders. You don’t bid out those; they are a lay­er of cream on the pas­teur­ized dull­ness of milk.

New bal­conies that have replaced the old shine with chrome and glass — air­borne aquar­ia. The logis­tics and, for that mat­ter, eco­nom­ics — and let’s not for­get polit­i­cal econ­o­my — of bal­cony replace­ment are trans­paren­cy itself.

You knock down the old bal­cony, you jack­ham­mer the floor inside the apart­ment to bury new rebar, you leave it up to the folks inside to refloor — if that’s a word. The win­dows get pitched. Time to refen­es­trate. The storm screens get shit-canned, too. Half of them don’t work any­way. With this sim­ple maneu­ver, you have just spent $80,000 on the bal­cony and forced the poor bas­tards in every apart­ment to spend at least anoth­er $40,000 on floors and windows.

With the sub­prime cred­it line the con­do board took out (with­out anyone’s approval) from a friend at a local bank, the out-of- pock­et for each apart­ment is $150,000, depend­ing on how long the board decides to keep the cred­it line gush­ing — and how much it wants to spew out.

With all the mul­ti­pli­ers account­ed for, with all the line items con­sid­ered, Bill has just run past a cou­ple bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty spread over less than a lin­ear mile of Ocean Drive.

Let’s say you devot­ed your life to screw­ing oth­er peo­ple. You break no more laws than you have to. You avoid being dis­gorged. You build up a good­ly stash. You move to Flori­da. You get fucked by your condo’s BOD. Your stash gets drawn down. You try a new fraud, but it fails. The world is chang­ing; you are los­ing your touch. You move on to a less­er place, or you start whack­ing peo­ple across their backs with your crooked cane until Dzhuy­ka carts you away. You might die in the mid­dle of it. You might want to.

You will make room for fresh, ide­al­is­tic six­ty-sev­en-year-olds to take their turn at the good life by the sea.

Sun­rise this morn­ing makes the ocean pur­ple. It’s order­ly, well-behaved, a good boy, wait­ing in its prop­er place, sep­a­rat­ed from the Broad­walk by one hun­dred feet of sand.

A trac­tor drags a sand plow to groom the beach much like one brush­es the lit­tle white dogs Bill just saw ambu­lat­ing, wheez­ing. The Broad­walk lies a foot above sea lev­el, maybe two. One big wave and this Hol­ly­wood Health Spa, which hap­pens to be a Russ­ian bath­house; this Hol­ly­wood Grill, an Armen­ian restau­rant that actu­al­ly looks intrigu­ing; and this Ital­ian joint called Sapore di Mare, will wash away into said mare.

Bill tries not to blame the glum-faced peo­ple around him for hav­ing trig­gered a host of polit­i­cal dis­as­ters, the most recent of which is the rise of King Donal’d I, who tomor­row will be crowned. For­get xeno­pho­bia, for­get the wall, for­get mak­ing fun of the hand­i­capped, for­get the FSB pros­ti­tutes, for­get the gold­en show­ers, whether or not they flowed! Here is the biggest incon­gru­ence: Florid­i­ans vot­ing for a cli­mate change denier are akin to con­cen­tra­tion camp inmates embrac­ing the ide­al of racial hygiene. At least that’s what Bill thinks, and his beliefs and his speech are pro­tect­ed by the First Amendment.

Mas­sive tow­ers are ris­ing along the ocean­front, some bear­ing the Trump name. Twen­ty-sto­ry build­ings like the Château were once thought to be tall; now, forty floors is about right. These tow­ers con­tain apart­ments cost­ing tens of mil­lions, mon­ey that seems dis­pos­able to so many peo­ple. Do they rec­og­nize that they are build­ing in the path of some­thing far more omi­nous than the bib­li­cal flood?

That flood came and went. This one will come and stay.

There was a sto­ry Bill read in The New York­er a bit more than a year ear­li­er, in Decem­ber 2015. The point: Flori­da is Ground Zero of glob­al flood­ing. It sits as low as Kansas — about six feet above sea lev­el. A drained swamp, it is cursed with a high water table. Its build­ings, big and small, sit atop water-soaked lime­stone, and it takes pumps to keep this ter­ri­to­ry from drowning.

Bill read this piece in Wash­ing­ton. He read it the way most of his elit­ist friends read it, all of whom reached the same con­clu­sion: let the fuck­er sink. With their chads hang­ing, they gave us George W. Bush, who gave us the inva­sion of Iraq in search of imag­i­nary weapons of mass destruc­tion. That was before this thing, this Donal’d F. Tramp. Let the waters come down, God, flood the place at your ear­li­est. Maybe swim­ming with the fish­es will make these kak­ers real­ize what they have done. Make sure you extract prop­er repen­tances before they drown. Oh Lord!

But now Bill is here, in Hol­ly­wood, run­ning on this pre­pos­ter­ous­ly named Broad­walk. Should he hate the peo­ple who are start­ing to show up in this under-caf­feinat­ed dark­ness? Can he hate the red-haired grand­moth­er who shouts in Russ­ian into her cell phone? That word again: Svolochi!” It’s omnipresent. Might as well make it English.

Can Bill hate this life-bat­tered, mid­dle-aged cou­ple emerg­ing from the place Mel­sor calls Mar­gari­ta Will? They were born Cau­casian, pre­sum­ably, but their skin has acquired the tex­ture of dis­tressed cor­dovan leather. They stand silent­ly, star­ing at the ocean, drag­ging on their Camels, get­ting their ear­ly-morn­ing pick-me-up, say­ing noth­ing. They are a bit old­er than Bill, or at least they seem to be. Theirs was a one-night stand or a thir­ty-five-year mar­riage; either way, noth­ing to talk about. If they couldn’t drink, they would all go insane.

And here comes an over­weight gen­tle­man on a rust­ed, squeak­ing, fold­ing bike with lit­tle wheels!

In the past, peo­ple came to Flori­da to die. They still do, but now they insist on stuff­ing the plan­et into the cof­fin with them. If death is bor­ing, the end of the world is the most bor­ing thing imaginable.

Bill is unable to blame these peo­ple for get­ting dis­tract­ed by some­thing else, any­thing else, even this Donal’d Tramp.

Excerpt­ed from The Château: A Nov­el by Paul Gold­berg. Pub­lished by Pic­a­dor. Copy­right © 2018 by Paul Gold­berg. All rights reserved.

Paul Gold­berg’s debut nov­el The Yid was pub­lished in 2016 to wide­spread acclaim and named a final­ist for both the Sami Rohr Prize for Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture and the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award’s Gold­berg Prize for Debut Fic­tion. As a reporter, Gold­berg has writ­ten two books about the Sovi­et human rights move­ment, and has co-authored (with Otis Braw­ley) the book How We Do Harm, an expose of the U.S. health­care sys­tem. He is the edi­tor and pub­lish­er of The Can­cer Let­ter, a pub­li­ca­tion focused on the busi­ness and pol­i­tics of can­cer. He lives in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.