This is a novel about the vagaries of love and family, about betrayal and forgiveness, and the possibility of coming home. Elson is drinking to numb the pain of his broken marriage. His ex-wife lies in a stranger's bed, lonely and waiting for dawn. Their son Richard, a young gay poet, is stunted by fear of artistic failure. And then there is Chloe.
Crises approach from all sides for the Harding family in Porter's (The Theory of Light and Matter) debut novel set in contemporary Houston, Tex. Architect father Elson, bitterly divorced from Cadence, struggles to stay connected to his much younger Filipina girlfriend, Lorna, while his children become unmoored. Son Richard, a gifted poet recently graduated from college, is living at home with his mother, tumbling into drugs and self-loathing as he figures out what to do with his life. Tipping the fragile family balance into chaos is the sudden return of daughter Chloe, who has taken an involuntary leave of absence from college after a potentially criminal connection to an incident involving her mysterious boyfriend Raja. Chloe's abrupt disappearance soon after her arrival disrupts everyone as it soon becomes clear that Chloe will do anything for love. The improbable plot progresses through the perspective of each major family member with backward glimpses into the origins of the family's current troubles and gestures to a potential future, but with the exception of Elson, the characters and their relationships are rarely convincing. And when a central conflict revolves around whether 20-something Richard will get an M.F.A. in poetry, any tension easily dissipates. The prose, while extremely competent, is excessive, with long passages of unnecessary dialogue, unnecessary exposition, and unconvincing interior monologues. An ambitious but ultimately disappointing look at a dysfunctional modern family. Agent: Terra Chalberg, Susan Golomb Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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September 04, 2012
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