Mississippi Books and Writers
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Counterpoint Press (Paperback, $15.95, ISBN: 1582433194)
Publication date: September 2004
Description from Publishers Weekly:
This slight story of midlife crisis and fantasy romance follows Barthelmes familiar path along the southern Gulf Coast. Elroy Nights is a 50-something art professor at a small, third-rate Mississippi university. Amicably separated from his wife, Clare, he fills his otherwise solitary life with occasional visits or dinner at Clares when her grown daughter Winter is there. When Winter brings home Freddie, a free spirit of a girl who will be Elroys student in the coming term, Elroy is instantly smitten. But the affair into which they casually fall leads to tragedy for their friends and near disaster for them. As Elroy ambles along, attempting to rediscover his youth by hanging out with his students, drinking and smoking again, taking impromptu road trips and listening to collegiate wisdom, he narrates his adventures, such as they are, but remains little more than a hazy collection of half-formed impressions. None of the other characters ever quite emerges as three-dimensional, either. The story is too precious and whimsical by half; no events-be they deaths, shootings or divorce talks-leave much of a mark. Through it all, Elroy observes and questions (“I thought it would be great to be inside somebody elses head for a while, to hear the noise in there,” he thinks about Freddie), striving halfheartedly to regain his bearings. Barthelmes 13th work of fiction-with its slight romance and unexceptional protagonist-may disappoint fans of his earlier work.
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