A piquant and fun romp that recounts the misadventures of a beer drinker who proves to be as insightful as he is amusing.

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THE UNLOUNGING

FROM A BELLY FULL OF BEER TO A CRAW FULL OF TIME

A 20-something Missouri man with a penchant for swilling beer on his lounger experiences an epiphany that turns his life around in this fictionalized memoir.

Selraybob peaks when he plays left tackle for the Waketon champion high school football team. Years later, his wife, Joalene, reads him the riot act, walks out the door, and leaves him sitting in his lounger drinking three quarts of beer a day, reminiscing about those glory high school days. Does he indulge in self-pity as he watches her stride away? Of course not. Instead, Sel (as his friends call him) sees two clocks that differ in time by seven minutes, and this observation becomes the inspiration that drives him from his lounger to reclaim his broken life (“What I decided was this: all we’ve been doing when we tell time, since we started telling time, is counting things. That’s it. We’ve been counting”). That may not seem like much, but to Sel this reflection leads him to obsessively read up on time and to formulate his own intriguing theory, which comprises an Everyman’s argument against the ideas of Einstein and Stephen Hawking and all the sophisticated and complex concepts of modern physics. “Time is a Count,” Sel surmises. In this funny, wise, and poignant account, the author, also named Selraybob (There Is No Now, 2011), deftly describes the protagonist’s bracing journey and captivating cohorts. With the help of his best buddy, Herm, Sel fixes up his old, beloved, broken-down car (“She was still beautiful. Sleek and red. A Corvair. But not just any Corvair….This was a 1964 Monza Convertible. Rear engine. Long, straight lines. Not curvy but not boxy. Lean. And misunderstood. She was called dangerous back in the day”). He wants to hot-rod around town and keep an eye on Joalene; he thinks she is having an affair with Reggie, Herm’s brother, the star quarterback Sel protected back in his football days. As Sel embarks on rollicking escapades while skillfully unraveling the mystery of time, Herm’s beautiful wife gives him some much-needed backup. Written in a distinctive, plain style that calls to mind Mark Twain, this book should touch and entertain readers with its self-deprecating humor and deep perceptions that penetrate to the root of the Midwest American male character.

A piquant and fun romp that recounts the misadventures of a beer drinker who proves to be as insightful as he is amusing.

Pub Date: July 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9846156-6-7

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Cur Dog Press

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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