In the novel a fiftyish graphic designer forced into retirement discovers, in spite of a parade of unlikely events, including numerous deaths, suicides, threats, explosions, and similar, that it might still be a bearable day in the neighborhood. A lovely new novel from the author The New Yorker calls, “the master of the low-key epiphany.”
Barthelme’s previous book is the novel Waveland published by Doubleday in 2009 in hardcover and 2010 in paper. It is set in Waveland, Mississippi, a year after hurricane Katrina leveled the place. The book is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle versions at Amazon and elsewhere.
In his newest novel of dysfunction and love along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Barthelme, as he did so incisively in Elroy Nights (2003), dissects middle-age malaise. His characters often seem shipwrecked, and in this off-kilter story of death and divorce, they pretty much are after Katrina transforms the modest beachfront town of Waveland into “ten miles of debris.” Barthelme offers stunning descriptions of the hurricane and its aftermath as he tracks unmoored Vaughn, an architect who has lost his passion for buildings and romance after his reliably unpredictable wife ends their marriage. Brooding, funny, and oddly passive, Vaughn has wandered into a companionable relationship with Greta, the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, and a skittish friendship with hair-trigger Eddie, who lost a hand in the first Gulf War. Meanwhile, Vaughn’s widower father endures a cruelly limited existence. In this powerfully atmospheric story of loneliness and risk, Barthelme slyly conceals emotional and philosophical intensity beneath the peculiarity of circumstance, the dazzle of hilarious repartee, and the luster of gorgeous prose. –Donna Seaman –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.