Dickey’s fifth novel (Cheaters, 1999, etc.) begins unpromisingly with hip smart-talking and gloomy banter, but eventually the characters—and the author’s treatment of them—mature and deepen.
As the story begins, Vincent Calvary Browne Jr. mopes over his former wife, Malaika, who has vanished into Germany with her new husband and Vince’s daughter Kwanzaa. Recently orphaned and about to turn 30 as well, Vince hits the bars. At a soul-food restaurant in the black, middle-class section of Los Angeles, he meets Dana Ann Smith, a Harlemite who has relocated to escape a lover she found in bed with another woman after he’d led her into bankruptcy. So Dana has plenty of her own problems, plus back taxes, not to mention she’s not doing so well as a realtor. The two begin a relationship, with Vince lying about his marital background and his anxieties over Kwanzaa, while Dana lies about her background and about former lover Claudio, who still haunts her dreams and invades her fantasies as Vince makes love to her. (Clearly the novel’s title should be a plural possessive.) Vince too is still thinking about his ex, even though her disappearing without a word suggests that she never loved him. Nonetheless, he keeps a video of their lovemaking and at times it replays somewhere in his inner depths as he embraces Dana. A big dustup erupts when Malaika phones to say that she now lives in nearby San Bernardino, but Vince still can’t see Kwanzaa. When Dana insists that he stand up for his rights, the lovers come to blows. Then Claudio arrives in L.A., and Dana and Vince fall into mutual infidelities, which they seem unable to survive.
The adult climax really has power and is worth waiting for.