An author of self-help books discovers that the easy solutions he gives others are of little help in resolving Big Life Issues. Eric Newborn--yes, the name is symbolic--writes books on "Everyday Miracles" and gives cheery pep talks at Celebrate Life conferences, dispensing nostrums such as, "We really do get what we're thinking about" and "Every one of you has the potential to heal. You are all miracle workers." But he finds it difficult to take his own advice when his beloved wife dies. He winds up living a reclusive life on Martha's Vineyard, his days filled with memories both of his wife and of his childhood--filled with magic, wonder and fear--in Queens, and he walks his dog, Ralph. One day, a woman named Sam has a car accident near Eric's home, and he does what he can to aid her, all the while hiding his identity. And then Eric himself has an accident, and Sam in turn nurses him. She finds out who he is--Sam's a big fan, and neither one truly believes in what seem to be random and capricious life events. (In fact, Eric's last book is There Are No Accidents.) Eric allows himself to engage in a series of deep memories about life with his wife, their inability to conceive and the couple's eventually becoming foster parents. He also allows himself to imagine alternative endings to their life together, the "might-have-beens" that could have structured their future. Eric's poignant loss reminds us all of the fragility of relationships and of the hard truths we find difficult to face.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK OF WHY:"
Montemarano is a brilliant illuminator of the outer reaches of hope, a writer unafraid to ask the hardest questions: Is there meaning behind human suffering? Are we responsible, somehow, for the tragedies that befall us? Do we have the power to change our lives? And if not, what's left for us? You'll read this stunning novel compulsively, at first in search of answers, then from a deep and painful affection for the human beings you'll meet in these pages. This is a haunting and extraordinary book." Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge"
A fascinating tale of faith, doubt.... An extraordinarily interesting book." Carolyn See, The Washington Post"
I love Nicholas Montemarano's writing. He turns the lights up so bright on the beauty of daily life that the dark places he goes leave you gasping. The Book of Why is a breath-taking show of love and hope, of disappearing acts, of restorative reappearances. It is, in a word, magic." Rachel DeWoskin, author of Big Girl Small"
Love and death: our two greatest mysteries. Not many writers have the guts or the skill to take them on at the same time, but Nicholas Montemarano has both. With The Book of Why, he's managed a seemingly impossible feat-using language to delineate, with great compassion and precision, that which appears ineffable." Ron Currie, Jr., author of Everything Matters!
"Nicholas Montemarano is a brilliant storyteller with a poet's heart-and The Book of Why is an intricately constructed narrative, part riveting, part reverie, entirely beautiful. I wanted this novel to last forever, and still I could not bear to put it down-kind of like life itself." Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Late Wife"
The Book of Why presents a compulsively readable mystery; it is impossible to resist how persuasively Montemarano plays with the metaphysics of love and desire." Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia"
The Book of Why progresses with the intimacy of a long letter written just to you... Along the way, there's some lovely writing... He's created an affecting tale of a man mightily striving to excavate some meaning from profound heartache."WBUR's The ARTery"
Beautifully written and pleasantly quirky...Ralph lives in the novel the way dogs live in the lives of of dog lovers everywhere-sleeping a lot, playing fetch and loving the people who love her." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Pet Tales
PRAISE FOR NICHOLAS MONTEMARANO:
"Remarkable . . . deft storytelling and ruthless honesty . . . as dark and dazzling as a mine shaft studded with diamonds." The New York Times Book Review"
An American stylist capable of redeeming our darkest dreams." Jayne Anne Phillips"
One of my favorite contemporary short-story writers, and, for my money, among the best we've got." Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me"
Dark, powerful . . . Montemarano handles brutality and abjection with ambiguity and subtlety." Publishers Weekly "
Montemarano's writing is sure and clear and direct. He describes the banalities of everyday life with clinical precision." San Francisco Chronicle