An extended parable about finding the right frame of mind for all kinds of success.
Hamblin’s debut novel opens in 2016 as environmental geologist Roger Hunt drives from Nevada to Idaho on business. He’s stressing out about his schedule, worried that he’s running out of time, daylight, and, most crucially, gas. At the last minute, he encounters an enigmatic old man on a dilapidated ranch who has fuel to spare. He doesn’t recognize him at first, but the short-tempered senior, Billy Haynes, soon curtly reminds him that they first met 10 years before on a mountain in Alaska. Hunt is now the CEO of his own small company, but he’s in a precarious personal state. He’s been a recovering gambling addict for years, and at 57, he feels like he’s been neglecting his family and worries constantly that he might lapse into his old ways. Now he must deal with Billy, who confronts him with hard questions: “Are you the success you wanted to be?” the old man asks. “Are you as happy as you could be? Are you the man you wanted to be, Hunt?” After they separate, Hunt finds a manuscript that Billy left behind: “The Seven Transcending Mind-Sets of Success.” As Hamblin’s narrative unfolds, it elaborates on Billy’s philosophy of life and success, which is essentially grounded in the Christian assumption that visible, mortal, earthly life is just the beginning of an eternal existence. Along the way, the author clearly explains principles of developing “Positive Mental Attitude” and resisting negative mindsets in all their forms. The framing of these life lessons as a manuscript left by a mysterious teacher figure is a canny choice on Hamblin’s part, an innovation that allows him to disseminate self-help nostrums in an energetic and entertaining way. That said, the advice is fairly standard stuff, and the melding of narrative and philosophy feels awkward at times; readers who dislike one of these aspects will be impatient for more of the other.
An often engaging narrative, combined with a self-improvement seminar.