Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: "Fellow Mortals" by Dennis Mahoney

It is a bit disappointing when a book you just wanted to like ends up being kind of a dud. While my feelings toward it are mostly innocuous, Fellow Mortals by Dennis Mahoney fails to deliver the emotional resonance that is implied by its premise. There are shades of quality in this novel, enough so to put Mahoney on my radar, but there are too many missed opportunities in the layout and execution, that I am not putting him to high on my radar. The premise itself is still very good, as is promised by the synopsis on the back, which was one of two things that led to this impulse buy, the other being it is published by the FSG Originals imprint, the same one that put out both of Frank bill’s books. It just never really gains the wings it should have when emotions boil over into physical actions, making them seem rather toned down in order for neater prose. The premise, as I said is really good; a fire, inadvertently caused by mailman Henry Cooper and a mis-thrown cigar match, devastated a small suburban neighborhood after it claims the life of one of it’s residents, a young wife. The reactions differ; Henry is guilt ridden, and it forces him to make rash decisions that harm his shaky marriage to Ava. Billy, a man also in a floundering marriage, wants revenge at any cost. And Sam Baily, who lost his wife in the fire, has retreated to the woods to carve out a life, literally, after his loss. This novel does have a hearty theme about the ways in which we cause harm to others when we can’t let things go, but it is just too neat and tidy in the way it is written, so much so that when a shattering death occurs, I totally missed it because I was kind of bored, and had to go back and read it again. Even the third part of the book, which contains the most lasting image of the novel, fails to deliver the emotional gut-punch. While it left me feeling incomplete, you might think differently.
Rating: 3/5

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