A bland actuary whose life is passing him by is nominated for an intergalactic contest, forcing him to revisit the childhood imagination that helped him survive loneliness and neglect.
Fletcher Weschel is boring. Abandoned by his father and raised by an ineffectual mother who alternately nags him to find more friends and clings to him when other men disappoint her, Fletcher has never managed to find a social groove. Pushing 40, he's settled into a dull career and numbing drudgery: “The shell Fletcher had been in since boyhood was now a virtual sarcophagus.” As a child, he fought despair by creating a wide and colorful set of characters in his imagination, but as he sank into his insipid existence, he lost that vibrant internal life, until the night a band of aliens shows up in his bedroom, claiming he needs to represent them in a mysterious contest. Oddly enough, due to his formerly active imagination—“We’re great fans of your vivid fantasy life”—Fletcher is asked to embody their group’s mission: to be goof-offs and pursue fun. But as Fletcher and his alien guide, Tandala, who takes the human form of a large Jamaican woman called Tandy, “zamoosh” through his various imaginary characters’ fleshed-out lives, they're confronted with a variety of experiences that wind up encompassing the best and worst expressions of human nature. Known for her funny-yet-poignant novels, Landvik takes an unexpected Dr. Who meets Quantum Leap turn, but through the interactions among Fletcher, Tandy and all the people they meet along the way—including a spunky second-grade teacher who bookends the various episodes—readers are treated to a remarkably lovely and sometimes-profound reflection of what it means to be human.
Beautiful writing and a keen eye for detail bolster a moving story that manages to be powerful and thought-provoking while remaining quirky, silly and fun.