I started reading this book because my daughter was in one of his classes, and I wanted to know exactly who would be shaping her emerging talent. But I finished it because I loved it and I couldn’t quit.
This is not the kind of story I would typically enjoy. It’s a book about life. Friendship, falling in love and falling out of it, betrayal, family, work. It’s about relationships, about the way they grow and the many ways they can unravel. In short, it’s about all the things that could happen, and I daresay have happened, to a lot of ordinary people like me and you. Ho-hum, right? Gimme something with explosions in it.
But Solomon delivers the subject matter with such a deft hand that one cannot help but be drawn into the life of Mark Hollander, at times joyful, poignant, harrowing, and hilarious. One cannot help but soar with Mark as he falls in love, and suffer with him as his marriage disintegrates. As the various subplots unfold and resolve, one rides with them, but still gets caught up in Mark’s overarching goal of finding happiness for him and for his son. This book, which I never expected to be reading in the first place, almost got me in trouble at work a couple of times because I was reading it on my phone when I shouldn’t have been. I love a discovery like that.
Know what? The writer in me says there’s nothing wrong with reading a bit of literary fiction every now and then. Keeps me straight, and I might pick up a trick or two, or at least learn all the ways I fall woefully short.
Solomon’s grasp of dialogue, pacing, plot, and theme are beyond reproach. He varies his sentence structure so that the prose flows naturally and smoothly. He knows what to say and what to let the reader figure out. He knows exactly when to leave a hook, and when to give us a break with a bit of comic relief. Even the formatting and editing were done well. He has all this stuff down. Which might be expected, considering he teaches writing at a university, but it’s always nice to find out your expectations have been met or exceeded.
I’m happy to report that in my opinion, my daughter is in very good hands indeed.