A grief-stricken man attempts to jump-start his life and find love in this novel.
After David Bishop’s decadelong marriage fails, he decides to get a new lease on life by moving from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles, California. Both his parents died tragically when he was 9, right after a happy family trip to California, and since then he’s wanted to take up residence in the Golden State. En route, he picks ups a hitchhiker who calls himself Rocco Manelli—he’s a comedian, and that’s his stage name—and the two become fast friends. Rocco invites him to be part of a comedy workshop, and although David is initially reluctant, he finally relents. During his first session, he meets Sarah Fleming, a teacher and talented singer; he’s immediately taken with her, and he confesses his feelings with astonishing—and for her, discomfiting—speed. She’s also wary of pursuing a new relationship because she’s only separated from her estranged husband, Turner, a cocaine-addled lout who’s prone to fits of violence. David has trouble finding work and his meager savings are rapidly disappearing, so he’s forced to leapfrog from one odd job to another. He finally lands work with a company that stages singles events, but that job is imperiled by his sexual dalliance with its owner, Liz Edwards. Meanwhile, David fantasizes about living a life as a poet. Author Cissne (Don’t Be Shy, 2015, etc.) ambitiously endeavors to depict the power of art as an antidote to existential crisis; for example, he portrays David as having long suffered from the loss of his parents, and shows how neither avid reading nor running has provided him with adequate relief. However, the slow, shiftless plot seems to suffer from ennui, just as much as its protagonist does. The prose often arduously grasps for the profound, only to reach the melodramatic instead: “David closed his eyes, visualized himself suspended in a tropical sea of embryonic fluid, the glorious maternal bliss from which all humanity emerges.”
A ponderous examination of spiritual lethargy.