WRACK AND RUIN by Don Lee

WRACK AND RUIN

KIRKUS REVIEW

Lee (Country of Origin, 2004, etc.) whimsically examines the intertwining of some rather fey lives over a Labor Day weekend in a small California community.

The title is both apposite and ironic, for Lyndon Song’s life seems to be heading south. Living in Rosarita Bay, Lyndon is a refugee from his former life as a successful sculptor in New York City. He has now opted for a more Arcadian lifestyle as a Brussels sprout farmer—and on the side he grows an impressive crop of marijuana. Family matters also grow thick when Lyndon’s brother Woody decides to visit. Woody is a formerly hot movie producer whose specialty is taking Asian action movies and “translating” them into English, but his recent projects have been derailed. The brothers haven’t seen one another for 16 years, and Lyndon would be perfectly happy to keep Woody away for another 16. Lee tries to harmonize multiple strands of the narrative, as Woody tries to lure Yi Ling Ling, an aging and out-of-control kung-fu actress, into his project. Meanwhile, Lyndon continues to fight off two powerful forces, both economic (a powerful developer wants his farm) and personal (Lyndon’s former lover, the current mayor of Rosarita Bay, is angry with him and keeps slashing his tires). Lyndon finds himself attracted to Laura Díaz-McClatchey, a masseuse who eases his tense muscles, but who also, we find out later, is a former museum curator interested in his work. Lyndon would like to keep his life intact, for it’s at least pleasant if not perfect, but over the weekend everything threatens to spin out of control (see title); an anarchic energy emerges that infects and unites both Lyndon and Woody. Subplots propagate like bunnies, as Woody tries to track down why an old acquaintance committed suicide. (Woody also gets involved with two lesbian environmentalists studying snowy plovers.)

Over-the-top complications sometimes get in the way of Lee’s wry commentary on contemporary life.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-393-06232-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2008




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