A young graduate meditates on his future and agonizes over his absent girlfriend during a long hot summer in St. Louis.
Debut novelist Beachy finds his voice but loses his narrative in the ethereal Midwestern landscape of this coming-of-age fable. The novel is narrated by Potter Mays, a character who falls somewhere between Charles Webb’s Ben Braddock and John Updike’s Rabbit Anstrom on the maturity scale and shares many of their tentative propensities. After graduating from college, Potter returns to his childhood home in suburban Missouri to lick his wounds. After he cheated on his girlfriend Audrey with a disposable blonde, and she cheated on him with a “dirty hippie,” Potter’s first love has left for an extended tour of Europe with bisexual beauty Carmel, posting cryptic notes and mementos for our tortured host. Back in the ’burbs, Potter makes a pretense at normality with a menial job delivering water and falls back into the comfortable routines of life among his parents and the transitional misadventures that arise among stranded high-school friends. The advice delivered onto the oddly detached Potter ranges from ironic (“What happens is you get to a point where you have to let the past go,” says Potter’s father, confessing his impending divorce) to bitingly straightforward (“Be a grown-up for once, Potter,” says best friend Stuart Hurst, having sold his advice to his amigo as an “Independent Thought Contractor”). Beachy’s perception of the doldrums of young adulthood are sound enough but his affected literary style often falls flat, especially when Potter bends so often to navel-gazing inaction. “But what of the aberrations? We half-mirror sons, smudged, foreign. These deviations from values. We who survived only to tarnish the men we admire. We failures, broken models,” muses Potter during one memorable aside at a Cardinals game. Potter makes for an interesting deviant but not a very lucid one.
An intriguing but ultimately baffling rumination on looming adulthood.