Sunday, October 23, 2016

A coming-of-age novel for the middle age?

We Did Everything Wrong

By C.V. Hunt

Publisher: Atlatl Press

Pub date: November 15, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I ended up identifying with the protagonist of We Did Everything Wrong more than was comfortable. He is 65. I am 65. He is a widower and I am a widower,. He is a widower by only 9 months compared to my 3 years but I certainly understood his ennui as he grieves. He has a weird friend that nobody likes and so do I. He hates Walmart and...

But that is where the similarities stop. Abraham Koyfman is bitter and depressed and, while the death of his wife has much to do with it, that is not really the reason. He is unhappy where his life has taken him, disappointed with the results, and sees no hope. He is still in mourning but it is unlikely anything will pull him out of it for a long time if ever. All he has is a fruitless job selling subliminal self-help tapes which barely augments his income. He is on the verge of suicide when his rude and drunk friend Horace and his annoying girl friend drops in for a surprise visit. Horace convinces him to go to a meeting of the self-help tape company salesmen and tell his employer face-to-face he is through. What follows is the world most existentially depressing road trip.

C.V. Hunt never goes for the sunlight and this is no different. But she still manages to find meaning in the dark. While Hunt is mostly known for Bizarro, horror and psychological horror,
there is none of that here. The closest it comes to horror is a existential horror reminiscent of Sartre and Becket without the absurdism. The author describes the novel as "A coming-of-age story for the middle age". That may have scared me the most to consider 65 as middle age in this era of elongated lifetimes. Abraham is discovering that his "mid-life crisis" still has 30 years to go when he originally thought he would be on the downside and experiencing it with his lifetime partner. Can it get more devastatingly real than that? Perhaps it will be too real for most people. No escapism, no violence but plenty of pondering the meaning of life. For some people, that can be the most nihilistic thing they can do and that is what Abraham may be learning from his plight and from his friend.

We Did Everything Wrong is a bit of step forward for the author. Like another author she is very familiar with, Hunt is wandering away from horror and Bizarro and tackling big life problems in a way that confronts and maybe terrifies. This is an easily read book due to the author's substantial skills in storytelling but it may not be an easy book to digest. And that is what makes it worthwhile, maybe even important, to read.

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