STYLL IN LOVE by Rob Schultz


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A first novel that strains for profundity as a young husband explores the meaning of love and death after his wife flees to the Canadian woods. Though set in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as down-to-earth a place as is likely to be found, Schultz’s tale, often rendered in long, lyrical riffs, is only lightly tethered to the real world. Myths, religious beliefs, and moments of magic realism—a talking pigeon offers advice and comment—drive the most significant elements of the story, which begins when Tom Styll’s wife, Constance, flees with their baby son, Teddy, to live in the north woods with her father, Ned Gasper. Constance, like her father, is obsessed with the deteriorating environment, the death of civilization, and all the apocalyptic worries that impel similarly sensitive folk to live in heatless cabins with outdoor privies. Poor Tom, a former civil engineer who once dreamed of building biospheres on the moon and is now reduced to writing instruction manuals, is still recovering from the death of his parents in an airplane crash. He loves Constance, who reads philosophy for solace, but he’s also of a more optimistic temperament, finding consolation in work, golf, and friends. Constance, meanwhile, shows no signs of returning, and so—at the pigeon’s suggestion—Tom reluctantly consults the mysterious and unmarried Maggie Fowler, an attractive if eccentric attorney with six children of differing paternities. Tom receives lots of other and varying counsel from friends and his brothers (one is a priest at the Vatican, the other a geologist), but Maggie’s advice carries the most weight. She finally persuades the still troubled Tom, after many deep talks and a near-seduction, to ride off into the sunset with her on a visit to a mythical place where all will be made clear. An ambitious but muddled tale that tries but fails to create a convincingly modern myth of redemption.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-9657639-0-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998