A TROUT IN THE SEA OF CORTEZ by John Salter

A TROUT IN THE SEA OF CORTEZ

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 40-year-old slacker in suburban Fargo suspects his formerly fat wife is cheating on him.

Chain-smoker Dennis Pratt, intellectually overqualified for his toxic-waste disposal job, dreads deeply the looming Mexican resort vacation his hardworking wife, Patricia, insisted on as a celebration of the 20th year of their dismal marriage. Pratt can’t swim, fears water deeper than the bathtub, has no wish to loll in a gated playground for gringos and wants even less to play the mandated golf with the male halves of the couples who will be sharing their vacation digs. Since there’s no getting out of it, though, he’s been putting away on one of greater Fargo’s less-exclusive golf clubs (some of the funnier scenes here) and even subjecting himself to the terror of wading lessons. Compounding the stress in his wretched life is the dawning suspicion that the reason Patricia has completely thrown over her lifelong red-meat, high-carb diet for tofu and mineral water, shedding the fat she has carried all their married life, is that she is having an affair. Prime suspect is the town’s leading dentist, Dr. Carver, an old schoolmate and friend of Pratt’s who ran off and joined the Marines when their English teacher inexplicably chose the semi-nerdy Pratt for a fling rather than the smitten Carver. He’s also haunted by five missing cans of mercury he agreed to dispose of for a ghostly visitor, which he has in turn fobbed off on a very unbalanced trailer-dweller whose miserable daughter Pratt befriended. Pratt’s only comforts are the brusque affection of his daughter, now going through a lesbian phase at the state university, and the friendship of an attractive painter who steers him toward medical relief of his world-class anxieties. And Mexico keeps getting closer.

A grimmer Carl Hiaasen, without the Florida sunshine.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2006
ISBN: 1-58243-342-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006