In Horack’s (The Eden Hunter, 2010, etc.) latest, Roy Joseph learns that "grief never leaves, it just mutates."
Roy and his beloved older brother, Thomas, had an idyllic rural Louisiana childhood. With loving, "almost hippie-type" schoolteacher parents, education was key. Instead, golden-boy Tom joined the Navy SEALs, only to disappear during the first Gulf War. Family stumbling through recovery, Roy entered LSU. Then a grief counselor knocked and "told of a slick bridge and a flipped car and a deep creek." At 19, Roy went home to settle his parents’ affairs and slept with his 16-year-old neighbor. Her parents turned vengeful, and Roy became an on-parole registered sex offender. He retreated to the Gulf’s offshore oil rigs, realizing he'd "come to prefer the comfort and security of seclusion over the uncertainty of the unknown." Then, after a distracting email, an electric winch cost Roy his little finger. The email was from a California teen, Joni, who claimed to be Tom’s daughter, thus for lonely Roy, "a foundling left by gods to prove they exist." In a beat-up Chrysler LeBaron, Roy began a Kerouac-style journey of discovery. Introverted and cautious, guilt-plagued and aware of his frailties, Roy believed he was playing "a cosmic chess match" to reconnect to normality. Memorable characters live on every page—some major, like empathetic burnt-out former SEAL Purcell, alone in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, and Viktor, a Russian immigrant marriage broker; others minor, like a clerk with a "nose shriveled like a dried fig" or "a tough old bastard" wearily posting flyers seeking a missing, drug-addled grandson.
Bracketed by stunning revelations, Horack’s luminous tale offers perceptive insights about the elemental connections of family.