Father of two laments his failed marriage, then dives into Los Angeles’s dating pool.
American Book Award winner Ellis (Right Here, Right Now, 1999, etc.) begins his chatty, slow-paced memoir with the collapse of his nine-year marriage to Anna, a restless beauty who found life-altering enlightenment with New Age spirituality. Despite desperate sessions with a marriage counselor, Anna insisted that she and Ellis begin “sharing each other with the world” and eventually left him and their young children. Dejected, Ellis refocused his energies on Chet and Ava, not wanting to become, as he writes, yet another member of the neglectful group of single black fathers “more renowned for our absence than our presence.” Meanwhile, Anna changed her name to Carmen, got dreadlocks and introduced boyfriend Doug, a “white rasta shaman.” Ellis stayed busy writing fiction and screenplay adaptations, and soon his grief was replaced by a sense that he should move on as well and not be mired in the same dismal relationship trenches his parents were stuck in when he was growing up. Fast approaching 40, he carried on with divorce proceedings, vigorously house-hunted, embraced Mr. Mom-hood and entered Southern California’s dating scene by calling up women who had expressed an interest in him back when he was with Anna/Carmen. Sabina wanted more than Ellis could give; former nanny Angela and current nanny Lucia didn’t fare much better. He just didn’t click with Penny, a Londoner, and Internet hook-up Cynthia turned out to be “morbidly obese.” Will Parisian beauty Lauri or Italian looker Cris finally win his heart?
Ellis is adept at balancing his shaky personal tribulations with the emotional rewards of fatherhood, but his sluggish narrative may be too snarky to garner the single-parent sympathy he seeks.