Minot’s second novel (The Blue Bowl, 2004) has a few too many twists for comfort.
A strange love story begins in a New York City yoga studio, and quirky characters inexplicably float in and out. So does narrator Billy Winslow’s ability to communicate his thoughts and actions in complete sentences. Billy, a once-popular artist and stream-of-consciousness thinker, finds the focus he so desperately needs when he joins RamAnanda yoga studio, but he expresses himself in an extremely unfocused manner: punctuating every word or sometimes every other word with a period or rambling on for pages using incoherent run-on sentences. Attracted to two women, the much younger Rose, and Amanda, a free-spirited studio employee, Billy finds himself more often in the company of Amanda. Between flashbacks of a weird Fourth-of-July incident from his youth and sweaty yoga workouts, Billy attends a dance with Amanda and eventually they move in together. When, midway through the book, Billy travels to California to be with his ailing father during his final days, Minot finally hits his stride. A genuinely emotional story emerges, and the author takes the reader on a profound journey uninterrupted by random punctuation and yoga terminology. Returning to New York, Billy faces an additional crisis, and, once again, Minot comes through with a well-written, poignant narrative; but sadly, it doesn’t last. Rather than ending the story at a logical point, the author adds a couple of gratuitous twists to the plot.
This uneven attempt may prove frustrating for readers who aren’t yoga-savvy and who prefer their sentences replete with subjects and verbs, but Minot handles the emotional connections well.