A stylish family saga in which modernity comes to a small, old Southern town.
In his ambitious debut novel, Paul tells the story of the savvy, artistic Proctar family in Cane Valley, Florida. They find their sedate way of life disturbed when corporate interests and ambitious technology company Global Cybernetics stumble upon their idyllic town and offer buyouts to local landowners. Although some see the influx of wealth as an opportunity, the family patriarch, Max Proctar, a sculptor, is reticent, wary of the changes that the town’s growth will likely bring. His social standing and his land holdings in town command respect, but they also make him a target as outside forces begin to infringe on his bohemian way of life. In addition, Max must also face the return of his adult children, who struggle to reconcile their love for him with his curmudgeonly ways. The most compelling character among this cohort is Zara Proctar, an aspiring painter searching for her own path. The Proctars, a collection of witty, erudite aesthetes, resemble J.D. Salinger’s famous Glass family, but they also bring a Faulkner-ian Southern attitude and 21st-century concerns. Paul writes in a verbose, intelligent style that recalls David Foster Wallace. The narration is lively, but the dialogue sometimes bumps up against the limits of the believable; casual conversation includes comments such as “Isn’t this the century when workers thrive on independence and middle managers with antiquated cattle prods fade into irrelevance?” Still, although such remarks may strain credulity, they also lend the Proctars an indelible charm. This novel will be sure to please fans of family epics and may also appeal to those with an interest in how technological and corporate cultures are encroaching on personal lives in the 21st century.
A strong, stylish novel about one family’s battle to preserve its identity in the face of changing times.