Friday, April 09, 2010

More Praise for David Carkeet's FROM AWAY

David Carkeet's From Away is reviewed in ForeWord magazine: "From Away is a novel in the hallowed age-old tradition of mistaken and swapped identity fables. Yet it departs from its predecessors in the eccentricity of its main character: Dennis Braintree is an overweight model-train aficionado and writer who alienates everyone he meets. The novel features a murder, or at least what some want to believe is a murder. In all, this is a comical peek into the lives of small-town citizens, their relationships and desires, and a better-late-than-never coming of age.

After crashing his car, Braintree finds himself spending the night in a tiny Vermont burg where a sexual encounter gone wrong earns him the title of Suspect #1 for the disappearance (and purported murder) of a local woman. Instead of being brought in by police for questioning, Braintree is mistaken by the police as long-absent hometown hero Homer Dumpling. In order to avoid arrest, Braintree has to assume the role. At this point, based on what we have seen of Braintree, who bears a resemblance to John Kennedy Toole’s character Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, the reader is in serious doubt that this play-acting will hold. The tension builds from there.

Amazingly, the mistaken identity does hold long enough for Braintree to find himself in the position of accompanying local police as they attempt to find...Dennis Braintree. Meanwhile, for what is probably the first time in Braintree's life, those around him are treating him as if they like him (with some notable exceptions). In order to stay in character, Braintree must try to suppress his usual callow and often crass behavior. It's no easy task, and several lapses make for serious comedy.

Suspending disbelief on the part of the reader is the primary challenge of the mistaken/swapped identity genre. One has to accept that, by the power of suggestion and consensual validation alone, the supporting characters could discount all inconsistencies and mishaps and believe that the one person is actually another. Author Carkeet makes the suspension of disbelief less painful than it could be. The character of Braintree is so over-the-top in his interior monologue that the reader can hardly pay attention to anything else. He’s foolish, unpredictable, and hilarious.
Steeped as he is in a murder investigation; the guise of a man he knows nothing about; and thirty years’ worth of friends, family, and former lovers; Braintree manages to surprise even himself. A coming-of-age story about a man in his late thirties, From Away is a light read full of gentle humor and rural charm." - Leia Menlove

No comments: