Luminous, intense and searingly honest, Small's ( Almost Famous ) novel focuses on unacknowledged alcoholic and insomniac Earl Dimes, Pennsylvania management consultant and aspiring novelist, who concedes that he has made a mess of his life. Years ago, after his single act of infidelity, Earl's wife left him. When the story begins, he has just heard that their teenage son has died after setting himself on fire. This shattering news leads Earl to reassess his failures, a process that will gradually take him from emotional numbness to awareness as he realizes that his lifelong pattern has been to push people away while creating the cloistered emotional safety that he both cherishes and despises. Earl's reflections, his affair with a woman half his age and a subplot involving threats from a black employee whom Earl fired are rendered in memorable, dramatic scenes; sometimes, however, the transitions between them can be jarring. Although Small can invest moments of Earl's unsought enlightenment with a true comic flair, he imbues the imbroglio of Earl's life with a sadness that seeps into the reader's mind. (June)
This third novel by the author of The River in Winter ( LJ 2/1/87) and Almost Famous ( LJ 6/15/82) opens with a mesmerizing sentence: ``I was living alone again--had been for nearly a year--when I learned that my kid had set himself on fire.'' This simple declaration embodies the blend of loneliness and tortured relationships that has marked Earl Dimes's life. Earl, the author of one novel, becomes a successful business consultant. His story describes the seriocomic events of his life and its people up to and just beyond his son's suicide. Earl's mother, stepfather, wife, and father-in-law figure prominently in these events. Small has crafted a novel in which both narrative and language are merged into a powerful reading experience. Highly recommended for serious fiction collections.-- A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham
Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)
Meet the Author
David Small is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal, a Christopher Medal, and the E. B. White Award for his picture books, which include Imogene's Antlers, The Gardener, and So, You Want to Be President? He lives in Mendon, Michigan.