AMERICAN PURGATORIO by John Haskell

AMERICAN PURGATORIO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First novel by storywriter Haskell (I Am Not Jackson Pollock, 2003), about a man’s distraught search for his wife after she disappears from a New Jersey gas station.

The narrator, an editor at a New York baby magazine, comes out of a gas station convenience store to discover that his wife, Anne, has disappeared in their car. She doesn’t answer the cell phone. He goes home and listens to a message from his mother-in-law but can’t get her on the phone when he calls back. The police say they can’t help. He finds a map on which Anne has circled several cities, then he buys a used car from his friend Mike. Before leaving to follow the map’s course, he wins a poker game with Mike’s friends, and he also returns to the gas station, but no one is helpful. On the road to his first stop in Kentucky, he picks up a yoga-practicing hitchhiker who introduces him to his attractive roommate. He sees a maroon station wagon like Anne’s and follows it to a motel, where he decides it isn’t his car after all. In Boulder, he attends some kind of hippie celebration with a hitchhiking couple and has orgiastic sex with them before heading south. In Arizona, his car dies. He gets rid of it and gives away most of his belongings. His credit cards stop working. He becomes homeless. As he travels, he remembers, with more detail, the scene at the gas station before Anne disappeared. At first, all he remembers is another car nearby, then he remembers it hitting his car. Next, he remembers that Anne was killed, and then finally (as anyone who saw The Sixth Sense will have guessed long before) he realizes . . . something else.

Overwrought, obvious, self-conscious: likely to be a big disappointment for fans of Haskell’s often-brilliant stories.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-374-10432-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2004




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