I just couldn’t help but notice how many books I’ve read recently with male main characters.
I started with Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman for an online book club at Every Day I Write the Book Blog. The book was smart and provocative, and full of dark humor. The main character, Tom Violet, is a father of two, not all that happy in his work and life, but puts on a good face regardless. He’s also living in the shadow of his lothario father, a prolific, award-winning author. I really liked Tom from the get-go - I envy those that have the snappy comebacks all the time. His HR memos and dark humor made me bust out laughing. I also thought in the back of my mind he was pushing it sometimes - especially in the big meeting. He was so past the point of caring at that point, but there's something to be said for there's a time and place buddy! He was also much too nonchalant about the relationship with his young co-worker. That was a train wreck waiting to happen and he never saw it coming until it was too late. I like the the father - he loved women, just couldn't make up his mind. I gave him loads of credit for stepping up to care for the daughter when Tom and Anna were seemingly falling down the rabbit hole of their own whims and self-obsessed urges. I liked that it was current and I really related to his corporate job - that was what really got me invested in his story to find out where the book would go.
Next up was Father-mucker by Greg Olear. This book came from Book Club Girl for her online book club and Authors on Air podcast. I felt this book started out the same as Domestic Violets, but as it went on, it changed. I found Father-mucker better reading than Domestic Violets, but I can’t pin it on one specific factor. I think Greg Olear put more into the father in Father-mucker than Matthew Norman put into Domestic Violets.
I just finished An American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopolous. I borrowed this book from my father-in-law. I don’t know why I put off reading it so long; it was a great read! Its set smack dab in Madison, WI for one thing. And the main character is an authentic Madison liberal, with a vague and ambiguious job working for a non-profit that awards grants to artsy, provocative “humanities” and research projects. Nevermind that the non-profit started from an grant (obtained by one of those infamous earmarks attached to an unrelated bill) from a less-than-savory congressman, that reads more like a mobster than a government official. As I read further into the book, I got more and more frustrated with Zeke. He’s drinking more and more, in serious denial regarding almost everything in his life. He has been working on a project for years about why Americans are unhappy. He doesn’t really have a plan for the results except MAYBE he can get his ultimate crush, Sofia Coppola, to make a movie out of them. Time to wake up and smell the reality buddy! He claims he has no idea that his non-profit is under a serious audit by the Department of Homeland Security (by not returning any of their inquiries or messages) and chooses to focus more on unattainable women. His admin assistant, the barista at the nearby Starbucks, his nearly-divorced neighbor and his sister-in-law all seem to think he’s nice enough, but he’s worse than a grade school boy with a crush on his schoolteacher. I started to find him pathetic and as the audit gets inevitably more serious, he gets more delusional. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I found myself agreeing with the women in his life. He's in denial about his job, he’s drinking more and more as both a distraction and a crutch, and living in a fantasy world if he thinks he can keep all of that going the rest of his life.
I’ve also started The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian which I checked out from the library. Chris is way up there on my list of favorite authors. I have yet to read a book of his that I didn’t want to read again the second that I finished it. Midwives and The Buffalo Soldier are my favorites. I find him similar to Jodi Picoult – his books are extremely thought-provoking, and have a lot of meat to them.
The Night Strangers was a book I was looking forward to for months. The main character, Chip Linton is an airline pilot recovering from plane crash into Lake Champlain. 39 passengers die on impact or drown. Chip and his wife and twin daughters move to a small town and buy an old house and Chip discovers a basement door that is held shut by 39 carriage bolts and no one knows where the door goes to or what may be behind it. There is also an underlying story about some of the women in the town with mysterious backgrounds, and they have a keen interest in Chip and his family.
I also found that I have a copy of The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I bought this from my favorite bookstore, Snowbound Books, in da UP at least two years ago. I’m excited as it’s the book behind the new George Clooney movie, also called The Descendants. From the movie, the story seems to be about a father who finds out his wife is cheating on him while she’s in a coma.