EXILE ON SECOND AVENUE by James P. Walsh

EXILE ON SECOND AVENUE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Walsh tells the story of a troubled writer planning his own suicide in this debut literary novel.

It’s been almost two years since Michael Venier’s father killed himself. His sister, Rachel, is marking the anniversary by getting married. Michael, a bartender and struggling writer who has recently received one rejection too many, plans to celebrate the occasion in a different way: intentionally overdosing on oxycodone. Deeply depressed and constantly self-medicating with alcohol and pills, Michael bumbles through his obligations ahead of the wedding, though all he really wants is to be alone. Even as the other people in his life shower him with affection and good news—his mother is moving to a new apartment, leaving him the family apartment all to himself; his new brother-in-law gets him an interview for a lucrative job; his sister wants to set him up with one of her bridesmaids—Michael can’t stand to be around them. “All of a sudden all of these people were sticking their nose into my business,” he fumes, “how…was I supposed to tell them that it was already too late for me, I had made my plan and I was prepared to stick to it.” Walsh’s prose is raw but stylish and occasionally lyrical, particularly in descriptions of Michael’s native Manhattan: “A lovely sheet of freshly melted snow shimmered against the salt saturated streets, reflecting all the colors from the lights that radiated from shop windows and ongoing traffic lights.” The writing, unfortunately, contains too many typos, and the cast’s dialogue is oddly wooden compared to Michael’s fluid interior monologue. The reader can tolerate Michael’s pity party for the first half, but as things continue to unravel without any personal evolution or epiphany, the book reveals itself to be less an investigation into human frustration than a bit of cynical fantasy.

A bleak, unpolished novel about a writer coming apart.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-68433-105-5
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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