Greenman’s book examines the marriage and relationship of two imperfect, ordinary people.
William and Louisa Day are a childless couple living in suburbia; he works in a midlevel office job and she in a museum. She asks him to build them a house to ensure that their lives together are moving forward, which he does. Isn’t that part of the American dream? But he is dissatisfied with their life together, perhaps out of boredom or a vague feeling that he is trapped and unfulfilled. He is losing his footing, the condition he defines as slippage. A one-night stand with a married woman turns into an affair that adds a dimension to the story without apparently adding to William’s happiness. It’s a tale of middle-class angst with few events, although fire eventually consumes some of the readers’ attention. Before that, a case of workplace violence makes one wonder if the story really takes place in the United States. In what company could a man punch his boss in the nose and not be permanently escorted out of the building on the same day? So, it’s a not-bad story built on characters and interactions, with the events being incidental. Unfortunately, there is no omigod, what happens next. Will the marriage hold, the slippage stop? How about the affair? Where Greenman shines, however, is in his use of language, with William “foresuffering” in the novel’s opening sentence. Later on, he looks up at the sky and sees a “gluttony of blue,” and that’s perfect. Another character “talked like a car whose brakes had been cut.” Vivid imagery and metaphors bring life and a spark to what would otherwise be an ordinary literary exercise.
A perfectly decent read, but it probably won’t keep you up at night flipping pages.