Sunday, August 2, 2009

WELL DESERVED - Michael Loyd Gray


Argus, a small town in Illinois, is the home of four substantial characters whose lives are intertwined in this driven novel. I often find myself putting books into one group or another: character-driven or plot-driven. This book is an intriguing mix of both.

Jesse, the small-time pot dealer, meets Raul, the just-off-the-docks Vietnam vet, both of whom are being watched by the new chief of police, Art, and the cashier at the market, Nicole. Yet this is not a novel as simplistic as that sentence. Each character is lovingly shaped through dialogue, other character's thoughts, and internal drives. With the strokes of immaculate detail, it is difficult to resist being pulled into their lives.

Personally, I liked this section: "But California really wasn't a place for Midwesterners. Not for very long, at least. Californians expected things to always be easy. Midwesterners knew what it meant to struggle and work for something. [...] One had all the weather and no sense, and the other was more grounded in reality and understood the changing weather to be just part of life's challenges." I am a product of both California and the Midwest, so this tickled me.

Gray's use of specific symbols and imagery create a postcard of small town America, one that pulls the reader through the pages with both smiles and a bitten lip.

4.3 out of 5.0 Sex on the Grasses.

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