A middle-aged husband and father endures a year of agonizing discovery in this humorous twist on the coming-of-age novel, Lamprell’s debut.
Michael O’Dell, unemployed Australian movie critic, is hit by a car while jogging one summer day, and nothing is the same after. He dives into a depression that deepens as his wife, Wendy Weinstein, tries to mitigate his angst, while his children, Rosie and Declan, only heighten it by the simple act of being teenagers. Lamprell gets the dialogue, the interactions, the hopelessness-turned-ecstasy in families just right. The “full ridiculous” of the title is Michael’s description of the facts of his life in this story—most bittersweetly ridiculous is that it is a universal story for all families, anywhere. Lamprell uses a narrative technique that at first feels like stage direction. He has Michael narrate in the second person, where “you” is he, Michael. At first unnerving, over time, you, the reader, get the rhythm and, by the end, perhaps realize it is you, any one of us, whom this story is about. Michael says “[y]ou are an unremarkable man living an unremarkable life except for this single thing: you love and are splendidly loved.” To get to that realization, Michael takes one hilarious step after another, from his daughter’s potential expulsion from school to his son’s alleged drug use to Michael being criminally investigated for a toy pistol used in his son’s school film project. Michael, awash in depression and fear, does not see the joke, and while this story is a comic journey for us, it remains an angst-ridden discovery for Michael.
Lamprell has written a lovely coming-of-age story about a middle-aged man who hurts, despairs, heals and comes to understanding. A very funny and truthful novel.