OFF TRACK by Robert L. Spevakow

OFF TRACK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Vancouver-based wholesaler’s life takes a nosedive after his best friend kicks the bucket at the peak of his physical, emotional and financial success.

 

Aaron Canducci was born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, predisposing him to an acceptance of mysticism and various faiths. Consequently, he’s a very spiritual guy. And it’s a good thing, too, considering his wife has all but abandoned him for her job in New York; major changes are at hand in the distribution company he owns; and his successful, seemingly healthy best friend, Hy Rosen, has just died in his middle age, leaving behind his family and wealth. When Hy visits Aaron from the other side in a dream, he confirms the existence of the afterlife with a secret message Aaron must pass along to Hy’s wife. Aaron obsesses over the meaning of the message but can’t seem to find time to decode it amid his struggles to overcome his drinking problem, betting on horse races at the Bookie Joint, visiting his psychic shrink friend for therapy sessions, volunteering with the Salvation Army and warding off the mob. All of this occurs before Aaron learns that his wife has been hiding a lesbian lover from him for four years, his daughter was raped more than two years ago and there’s a secret, dangerous branch of his family he’s not sure he should get involved with. And then there’s Aaron’s struggle to return to the dating scene after 25 years of marriage. Spevakow crams so many threads into this ambitious, fast-paced novel that it’s difficult to pin down the main plotline or relate to the characters. Most of them lack distinguishing characteristics, so mobsters seem more passive-aggressive than ruthless and Aaron is so even-keeled that his spirituality might as well be complacency. The robotic-sounding dialogue doesn’t help. As Aaron’s daughter unloads her sexual past on him, he jokes, “You could make me a strong drink. No, I’m just kidding. You know I’m not supposed to drink.” Still, Aaron’s many exploits intersect in a web of harrowing misadventures that are impossible to stop reading, most notably his dealings with gangster Darius Singh, the man responsible for Aaron’s first drink, at age 14, that would lead to most of his adult problems.

 

A compelling story of spirituality, emotional desolation and forgiveness whose characters could use some life.

 

 

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1449009915
Page count: 223pp
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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