A man goes in search of his addict son only to end up lost in his own relentless crises.
Hunter (Ugly Girls, 2014, etc.) focuses on the grotesque and unlovable in this novel that spreads like a wildfire from West Virginia down to the verdant sludge that is Florida. Meet Greg Reinart—retired accountant, compulsive overeater, 58 going on dead (if he doesn’t change his diet). His second wife, Deb, is also a retired accountant, but whereas Greg is a slovenly presence in their home, Deb is immaculately manicured, motivated, and somewhat removed, yet in a pleasant way, like a host on an HGTV show, “nothing worrisome; nothing out of place.” His son, GJ, a grown man with a harrowing drug addiction, has been missing for three weeks. Because GJ has always “felt as elusive and slippery as his own beating heart,” Greg commits to “never, ever stop looking” for his son. And so, with trepidation, Greg embarks on a precipitous search and leaves his safe home in West Virginia to RV it to his spark plug of an ex-wife Marie’s Orlando condo. While Hunter's commanding narrative hurtles forward, it also pauses to coast as Greg ruminates on his complicated past, which we come to discover motivates his own morbid obsessions. The reproachful voice of his late mother pervades his consciousness, but often, her character feels archetypal, undermining Hunter’s lurid prose with trite remarks such as, “Now it’s time for you to be a man and support your family.” Tortured by his insatiable hunger—for food, alcohol, belonging, affirmation—Greg has been made to feel inconsequential by time and fatherhood. And it gradually becomes clear that GJ might be better off on his own, outside the vortex of his father’s misery. When Marie joins Greg on his futile hunt for redemption, their messy relationship, like an alligator wakened from its slumber, pulls the story toward darker waters.
A savage tale of parenthood and squandered hope from an author whose unsparing eye never ceases to subvert the mundane.