A first novel told from the perspective of a mentally limited man caught up in forces beyond his control.
Perry L. Crandall (“L” for Lucky) isn’t retarded—he’ll tell you so. His beloved Gram tells him being slow isn’t a bad thing; he’ll get where he needs to go in his own time. She also warns Perry about whom to trust in the world, and especially to value his own abilities and instincts. After Gram dies, his absent mother and siblings swindle him out of the house she left him. Under the protective eyes of his boss Gary, Vietnam vet Keith and convenience-store clerk Cherry, Perry settles into a new routine on the waterfront in Everett, Wash. He has a job at Holsted’s Marine Supply, an apartment over the shop, and he takes weekly trips to the Handy Mart to buy lottery tickets. When one ticket pays off with $12 million, Perry is plunged into a new world of fame, wealth and false friends. Predictably, his avaricious family members plot to get their hands on his fortune, but Perry’s well-meaning friends are equally worrisome as they happily help him fritter away his winnings and offer amateurish if well-intentioned advice. Tired of the constant pressure for him to sign his Power, as he calls the power-of-attorney document, Perry makes a surprising decision that settles for good the problem of his family and the money. Wood does a good job of scene setting, and the tension around whether—or when—Perry will be swindled out of his money makes the middle of the book a page turner. At the same time, the narrative voice is rather flat, and some of the developments are unrealistic.
A thought-provoking idea imperfectly executed.