The Stranger's Enigma by Louis Villalba

The Stranger's Enigma

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A successful neurologist’s bizarre dreams guide him through a series of personal and professional reversals in Villalba’s (The Silver Teacup: Tales of Cadiz, 2012) second book.
Dr. Daniel Brandon is a neurologist with a comfortable life, complete with the trappings of success. Married to the devoutly religious Marlene, he is the father of three grown children: Ana, Emmanuel and Steve. As the novel opens, several unusual and disturbing events lead Daniel down a path of self-discovery. It begins with a series of dreams featuring a man Daniel calls Sonie. Unlike the responsible Brandon, Sonie is joyous and carefree, enjoying a life of adventure and sexual conquest. The dreams coincide with a decline in Daniel’s relationship with Marlene. Daniel’s marital woes aren’t his only worries: A patient he saw only once has reemerged years later to file a malpractice suit against him. As Daniel’s problems multiply, Sonie blurs the lines between Daniel’s reality and fantasy by introducing him to a beautiful woman named Julie McIntyre. As Daniel struggles with a failing marriage and fights the malpractice suit, he embarks on a journey to reunite with the mysterious Julie. Told from Daniel’s perspective, Villalba’s novel is a provocative, if not entirely satisfying, character study of a man facing a personal and professional crisis. The first-person narration brings immediacy to Daniel’s story and allows readers to have the same wonder and confusion Daniel experiences in his dreams. His romance with Julie adds an extra layer of emotional depth; however, it turns on a twist that’s highly unbelievable. His dreams work well in the story when they involve Sonie, but they are less effective when they veer into the absurd, as with a sequence in which an absent Sonie makes Daniel act like a frog.
Like his protagonist, Villalba has a vivid imagination; yet the postmodern mix of fantasy and reality is often more bizarre than enlightening. 




Pub Date: May 30th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1495396755
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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