Tim Lane is a writer, artist and poet. Your Silent Face is his first novel. He grew up on the East Side of Flint, Michigan, in the 70s and 80s. He has a master's degree in creative writing from Michigan State University. His poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals and zines, and his paintings have exhibited in Lansing, Flint, Detroit, Chicago, Southbend, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.
“A meandering but vigorous story about wayward youth and the necessity of art.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Humdrum domestic stresses hatch a flock of wildly florid complications.
Portland ad writer Adam Cooper, fired from his job at Lostine Windows for watching explicit videos at his workplace, is serving as a stay-at-home dad for his 7-month-old daughter, Maddie, while his wife, Sarah, struggles to pump milk each day during her downtime at César Chávez Elementary. Sarah’s unsought role as the family breadwinner is complicated by the unwelcome attention she gets from wealthy, entitled Chávez principal Evie Kemp, whose son, software engineer Crispin Kemp, has just been dumped by the Coopers’ neighbor Ali Washington, a receptionist and aspiring graphic designer who’s started to feel creepy about Crispin’s attentions. Ali’s shivers are the first sign that this apparently quotidian Oregon soap opera is being driven by some seriously dark energy. Ali has taken to posing in her bedroom window late at night to give Adam a private striptease. Crispin, who’s waiting to become a billionaire when Amazon acquires Logicstyx, the company he’s helped steer into the stratosphere, is disturbed in ways his mother can face only to the extent of thinking, “Crispin had gotten carried away again.” Sarah’s hiding secrets just as explosive as those of her husband and her next-door neighbor and the neighbor’s ex-lover. Ultimately, Adam’s ill-judged attempts to protect the wife who’s turned away from him ignite a full-blown blaze. Lane’s fragmentary narrative is constantly jumpy—not just when he’s shifting from one character’s point of view to the next, but even within single sentences like “Marriage is a scoreboard.”
A fever dream of the monsters lurking beneath the suburban surface. Not even Mister Rogers would want these neighbors.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Crooked Lane
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
In Lane’s literary novel, a music lover attempts to make sense of his reality in 1980s Michigan.
Stuart Page is back in Flint for the summer following his freshman year of college. He’s spending it drinking with his friends, stirring up old memories, and obsessively analyzing the music of bands such as the Cure, the Smiths, and Joy Division. (The novel shares a title with a 1983 New Order song.) Their records provide a soundtrack for his life in a dour, working-class town: “My block was just like I remembered it: a funeral procession of American made motor vehicles parked on the south side of the street outside of not-quite-but-pretty-damn-near-shabby aluminum-sided houses with scrubbed and repainted, lusterless siding.” Stuart takes it all in as he feels pressure to find a summer job and copes with his familial tensions and expectations. Meanwhile, he’s preoccupied with the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, memories of his Chippewa grandfather, and a mysterious figure he calls “the Viking,” who seems to be following him. Lane’s coming-of-age story interrogates timeless themes of class, violence, assimilation, and the rough stumble to adulthood. Stuart is a memorable protagonist who mixes familiar slacker ennui with an obsessive fascination with music. The conversational prose—mostly Stuart’s internal monologue—burbles with non sequiturs, as when the protagonist derails a phone call with a friend’s roommate: “Gina, it’s Stuart….What has been your biggest disappointment, music wise? Mine’s been A Flock of Seagulls. I loved those guys….I think a band with too much style is doomed to failure.” The reader will likely be reminded of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel High Fidelity or possibly Richard Linklater’s 1993 film Dazed and Confused; Lane’s tale is similarly episodic and digressive and more dedicated to re-creating the feeling of a time and place than telling a cohesive story. Even so, the sharp prose and inviting energy help it to succeed where similar novels fail. Readers will enjoy following Stuart’s thought processes, wherever they lead.
A meandering but vigorous story about wayward youth and the necessity of art.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2020
Page count: 236pp
Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021
Athletic Specialist for the City of East Lansing's Parks, Recreation and Arts Department
Last Nights of Paris
Favorite line from a book
For some time now the impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead. --The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy
Passion in life
Family & friends, 80s music & art.
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