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A Quiet Resignation by Kevin Mc

A Quiet Resignation

by Kevin Mc

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2012
Publisher: Evergreen Umbrella

Still harboring bitter rage at a bully from his school years, a university professor concocts an elaborate, violent plan to ruin his nemesis’ life.

Charlie Springbank tormented many people during his youth. A popular football player, he beat up many other boys and disgraced several of the girls. However, as the story’s unnamed narrator notes with glee, Charlie’s success diminished after graduation, thanks to a failed football career at Boston College and an unhappy marriage to the Boston police chief’s daughter. The narrator, meanwhile, found success and some happiness in his own marriage and career as a university professor. But, in a most unpleasant way, he’s pushed over the edge after witnessing Charlie urinate through an open window of his beloved sports car. In a series of passionate monologues interrupted only by brief dialogues, he slowly unveils a murderous scheme to destroy Charlie—and take out some of the city’s more unseemly characters—through a plan he dubs “The Masterwork.” Initially, the book calls to mind the amusing, endearing self-aggrandizement of Frederick Exley’s A Fan's Notes. Unfortunately, it morphs into a series of manifestos that mix clever, vivid turns of phrase with furious, often bizarre rants about people the narrator doesn’t like: Charlie, President Obama and “ivory tower” professors, to name just a few. The story borders on satire, with the narrator waxing poetically about everyone else’s flaws as the body count grows. Yet the more he verbally skewers Charlie and the other targets of his anger, the more the story falls victim to telling rather than showing. The author possesses a mouth-watering flair for describing food and beer, but that talent doesn’t extend to locations (Boston settings are listed without much identification beyond street names) or characters (with the exception of Charlie, they fill caricatured roles and hold vapid, stilted dialogues). While the story starts out intriguingly, the narrator’s raging displeasure and smarmy self-congratulatory attitude ultimately hold it hostage, leaving behind a tale that loves its own voice a little too much.

Despite occasional moments of eloquence, the story—burdened by incensed, rambling speeches and half-realized characters—falls short.