Like a Polaroid snapshot, Westmoreland’s new novel takes a delightful look at the daily life of people living in the city of Portland, Ore.
Using an interesting blend of first- and third-person narration, Westmoreland’s characters share their thoughts and feelings, often providing alternate views of the same situation. Bill Fielder owns a doggie day care center that connects the various characters of the story via their dogs. Bill’s gay roommate, Andrew, is the musical director at an elementary school. Everyone assumes that Bill’s gay too, and this creates some interesting problems for a straight man. Jessica Sterling works for Bill and finds him attractive, but is frustrated by her erroneous view of his sexual orientation. Westmoreland’s ingenuous use of subtlety and humor to handle controversial situations is refreshing. Michael Childress is an up-and-coming adman. When Michael is promoted, his boss makes it clear he will need a car. He knows this will be a problem for his eco-friendly wife, but he buys one anyway, believing she’ll come around. The zany antics that arise from this seemingly innocuous act are reminiscent of Ralph Cramden’s conundrums on The Honeymooners. This type of humor saturates the book and makes for laugh-out-loud fun. The author sometimes suspends one character’s subplot to engage another, but it all coalesces neatly in the end, with the exception of a lawsuit Bill enters into that involves many of the book’s key issues. It would have been interesting to explore this line further.
A fun, uplifting read driven by sitcom-style storylines.