I chose to read this book because I loved the bizarre concepts behind the novel. A young college professor named Paul stumbles into a new age health spa where the resident yogi reads his palm and prophecies that he will soon meet and eventually lose the love of his life, that he will lose both his brothers, and that he will die before living out his 40s. After his fiance is shot during a revolutionary war reenactment in Concord and his astronaut brother dies during 9/11, Paul rushes blindly toward an impending destiny he doesn't feel in control of. In the process, he becomes a thief, pays the Modern Cyrano to write a scholarly article for him so that he doesn't lose his tenure,is kidnapped by ecoterrorists, and goes postal dressed like an Indian chief.
In addition to the bizarre backdrop of the novel, I was also quite enamored with the author's thought processes in the first few pages. I loved how he juxtaposed the setting of Concord as being the city where the revolutionary shot was heard around the world while also being the city famous for transcendentalists and pacifists like Emerson. I also thought it was amusing that he referred to Nixon as the "Vietnam war mortician".
I wanted to like this novel more than I actually did. It had great promise, but it didn't quite work. The bizarre didn't seem quite so bizarre because it was steeped too much in reality and didn't remain mysterious. Also, I'm not really sure why the author felt the need to insert occasional unrelated personal side notes about his own life alongside a third-person account of Paul's life. It's a concept that could work but just seemed to be an unnecessary distraction here. The author did mention that he'd tried writing novels before and had difficulty with setting up scenes. He did a good job of this in the first half of his novel. The first half of the novel would receive 4 stars from me. But the last half is a 2 starrer and falls flat on its face because he forgets to set up the scenes. The biggest problem with the second half of the novel is that the author spends more time rambling about things than telling the story. Exactly 3 things happen in the last half of the novel, but it takes 150 or so pages to tell it because the author keeps on going on mainly boring stream-of-consciousness tangents unrelated to the story itself.
The story ends with Paul having a moment of self-help, new age enlightenment. The rest of the book was so steeped in reality (albeit bizarre reality) that the ending didn't fit at all. I felt kind of cheated in that the first half of the book held such promise and the last half was such a loquacious letdown. However, I'd be willing to try reading a Josh Barkan book later when he's learned a bit from what I hope he finds to be constructive criticism in the reviews of his first novel.Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.