FLEETING MEMORY by Sherban Young


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A man with no memory stumbles into his own shaggy dog story.

The narrator of Young’s (Double Cover, 2011, etc.) intricately plotted, frequently hilarious new novel wakes up in a rural cabin with no memory of how he got there or who he is. He shares the cabin with a feisty little dog and a well-dressed man lying dead on the floor with an arrow through his heart—only he’s not really dead; he’s got enough life left in him to whisper to the main character that “the answer lies with Keats.” When our narrator asks “Keats who?” the man heaves one last word, “Cretin,” before dying, leaving our hero to reflect, “He was really dead this time. Really dead and kind of rude.” Before the amnesiac main character can figure out what to do with the body, he gets another visitor—the mystery man Enescu Fleet, an accomplished amateur sleuth and reputed inventor of the phrase “cool beans.” After a little verbal sparring, the main character decides to reveal the dead body to Fleet and seek his counsel—but by that point the dead body is long gone, leaving not even a blood stain. The novel that unfolds from such a feverish, smile-inducing setup repays the promise of its opening many times over. The setting is revealed not only as an Indian casino in Maine but also as the venue of Deadly Allusions, a televised game show in which realistic murders are staged in order to give amateur sleuths a chance to test their deductive abilities. The story’s odd heroes are quickly enmeshed in just such a simulated murder, which quickly complicates with corrupt politicians, shady deals and, of course, actual murder. Young’s narrative dexterity never flags, although occasionally his cleverness gets the better of him (there are many points in the book where the only thing the main character seems to have forgotten is his name—a very convenient kind of amnesia). This novel has more barbs than a Dorothy Parker short story and is every bit as enjoyable.

An utterly winning, deceptively smart collection of mishaps, plot twists and grinning one-liners.


Pub Date: July 20th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1463602017
Page count: 227pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2011


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