Picaresque debut about the crooked path of a true love between two unlikely people in an unlikely place.
Ruby Falls is an arty LA glam-girl, an animator who works on a children’s cartoon series and lives in the guesthouse of an aging porn queen named Jeannie, whose Laurel Canyon homestead is a kind of low-rent San Simeon—full of dogs, perverts, and artists of various stripes. Ray Rose is a divorced Florida construction worker who inherited a rather grand house from a total stranger who picked his name out of a telephone book. Where will Ray and Ruby’s paths cross? In Alaska, actually, where they both go to get away from some bad stuff. What kind? We’re told at the start that Ray killed a man (though we don’t get the details right away) and that his most recent wife left him a few months ago. As for Ruby, she came home one night to find that an intruder had shot all of Jeannie’s dogs, then raped and killed the dog-walker. Plus, she has lately given up on her Iranian boyfriend. So there’s plenty to forget on both sides. In Alaska, Ruby climbs mountains and Ray moves into a small campsite, where he finds work as a handyman and carpenter. The two meet in a bar and fall in love, but in between their bouts of kayaking and lovemaking, both find themselves still troubled by the darker shadows of their past lives. Eventually, they work the shadows, only to find that the present holds troubles and griefs of its own.
A basic boy-meets-girl debut that’s unfortunately tarted up with outlandish characters who sound like dropouts from an indie sitcom and that suffers from workshop prose (“Early mornings are all about the ax, chainsaw, stump grinder, and tractor”) as thick as treacle.