Split Levels

Overview

This quirky, funny, unsettling novel delivers its reader to that strangest of lands: the suburbs. When Allen Stanley's father is found dead in the bathtub, his wrists slashed, Allen is called back to the sleepy, sixties suburb where he grew up. But the simple matter of arranging the burial and settling the estate soon becomes a path into the shadowy, unspoken side of the life of the town. Allen is perplexed by the thick undercurrent of sexuality that marks his every encounter with the locals, first with the young...
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Overview

This quirky, funny, unsettling novel delivers its reader to that strangest of lands: the suburbs. When Allen Stanley's father is found dead in the bathtub, his wrists slashed, Allen is called back to the sleepy, sixties suburb where he grew up. But the simple matter of arranging the burial and settling the estate soon becomes a path into the shadowy, unspoken side of the life of the town. Allen is perplexed by the thick undercurrent of sexuality that marks his every encounter with the locals, first with the young housewife next door, then with the teenage girl who works at the local library, and even with the young man who mows his father's lawn. Adding to his quandary is evidence which suggests that his father was murdered - not a suicide - and the more the police investigate, the more they consider Allen a suspect! As he tries to figure out just what is going on, his family's irregular past is dredged up, including the unexplained disappearance of his teenage sister some fifteen years ago - which may be tied to his father's death. Split-Levels is mystery, social satire, psychological drama, and a gripping read all at the same time. Gothic in mood, minimalist in style, and slyly humorous, its feverish perception of the surreal that lies beneath the thin skin of reality explodes subtly onto the page, even as it explores how the past is indelibly connected with the present, how it hides behind the dream we call today.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Depicting suburbia as a split-level hell, first-novelist Rayfiel offers narrative sound bites that mix crime, coyness and sociological criticism. At about age 30, Allen Stanley returns to the childhood home from which his older sister vanished nearly 20 years before, where his grief-stricken mother died in an accident a few years later and where his father has just been found dead in the bathtub, his wrists slashed. The story is advanced by schizophrenic conversations, often sexually driven, that Allen carries on with the boy who cuts his father's lawn, with the promiscuous, hard-drinking woman across the street and with the teenage girl he meets in the library. When not waxing existential, Allen fitfully pursues rumors afloat in the unnamed community that link his father to the disappearance of his sister and of young girls seen in dimly lit bedrooms of the house. Allen's tentative investigation occurs in brutally truncated scenes and with dialogue that turns gothically arch between breaths. Rayfiel picks up convention towards the end and delivers a watertight solution that ties up his thematic and dramatic threads. But it's a classic instance of too little too late. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Who killed David Stanley? A retired professor and widower, father of a daughter who disappeared at age 15 and a son who left for college and never came back, Stanley was found in the bathtub of his split-level suburban home with his wrists cut. But there are suspicious bruises on his wrists, initials written in blood on the bathroom ceiling, no razor blade to be found, and those old rumors about Stanley's sexual proclivities. When Allen Stanley returns to bury his father, he becomes the target of circumstantial evidence and the instrument for revealing long-buried secrets. Screenwriter Rayfiel's first novel will appeal especially to Twin Peaks fans and film buffs for its quirky contemporary surrealism and cinematic style; it's a deft handling of the dark side of human nature, without a stock character in sight. Recommended.-- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L. , Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439181249
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 7/22/2009
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 0.46 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 5.00 (d)

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