Within his taciturn coming-of-middle-age melodrama, debut author Whalen includes a veritable dictionary of first world problems.
Craig Duffy, divorced and childless, lives in Florida with his lovable canine, Detective Green (named for the character from Law & Order). He loudly resents supporting an aging father with increasing dementia. His mother has died, his sister lives in what he sees as blissful detachment across the country, and he’s prone to making melancholy, pseudophilosophical remarks—“now is a particle not a wave”—about how caring for an ill parent affects an adult child, especially how it affects that child’s job and personal freedom. With Craig’s days interrupted by his father’s condition and problems reaching a crescendo at work, he decides to hit the road with Dad—from suburban Florida down to the Keys. On the way, they spend time talking and playing cards and visiting strip bars with old friends. Ironically, along with taking care of his senile father, Whalen’s protagonist must contend with his own delayed maturity. Craig calls himself “refreshingly immature”; he frequently uses the words “awesome” and “douchey” and is still trying to “soothe the wounds of youth,” which are menial at their most severe. This sometimes makes for funny and depressing miniature lectures on varied topics: the afterlife, Floridians, accounting, genetics, simulated reality, the caliber of the Subaru Outback. The book’s resolution is swift and forced, and Craig himself experiences the greatest solace from a brief encounter with a Hulk Hogan-like former wrestler named Tank Tonnigan and from some dating advice he gets from a TV personality that helps him court a new lady in town.
A poignant, funny narrative sometimes disrupted by its own arrested development.