Monday, April 25, 2005

Highly recommended: Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart

This weekend I read a wonderful novel about a thirty-something under-employed guy who sees dead people. It's a Perfect Cicle by Sean Stewart.

Don't be put off by the subtitle ("a novel about Texas, ghosts, and perfect pop songs") or by the fish hooks on the cover -- this is really a gem of a novel: funny, intelligent, surprising, thought-provoking...

Will "Dead" Kennedy has always seen in both color and black & white (and divided people "living and dead -- into five groups: 1) Buddhas, 2) Tell-Tale Hearts, 3) Cobains, 4) (Jack the) Rippers, and 5) Zombies" p25). The living are in full color; the dead he sees in black and white -- that's how he can tell them apart. Of course, it's complicated at night, which is why Will decided to stop driving -- he kept braking for people who weren't really there. Now in his thirties, he still carries a torch for the ex-wife who left him to marry an ex-Marine, he has just been fired from his low-paying Petco job for eating cat food, and he has a 12-year-old daughter who calls the ex-Marine dad (after all, it's the other guy's name on his daughter's birth certificate). But things get even worse when desperation entices Will to take $1,000 to exorcise a ghost from (distant) cousin Hanlon's garage...

I won't ruin the surprises by revealing anything else. Suffice it to say that Will's visit to his cousin's garage has many unexpected consequences, for him and for the narrative.

But Perfect Circle is not merely a story about ghosts, or Texas, or family. This is what Will says, and it encapsulates the essence of this novel perfectly:

There are so many different ways lives work out, so many stories, and every one of them is precious: full of joy and heartbreak, and a fair amount of situation comedy. Every life is a movie that starts in color. They just all end in black and white.

I really urge you to try this novel. You won't regret it!

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