Aging widower Tobias Seltzer prefers to spend his time with dead authors rather than live, but flawed, humans. That is, until the night Mayflower Bryant corners him in the basement laundry of the Coronado and persuades him to dance with her in his skivvies. Almost against his will, Tobias is drawn into the lives of his misfit neighbors – a grieving widower, a pregnant, homeless teenager, a one-handed juggler, a Vietnam vet left brain-damaged by a misfired suicide attempt, a woman on the edge of Alzheimer’s – and discovers that all problems can’t be solved by reading books. Sometimes, the only solution is life itself. Dan Gilmore’s debut novel takes a darkly humorous, painfully honest look at this last-minute journey toward love and self-discovery.
First lines: My custom that summer when the heat made it impossible to sleep, was to go to the basement to cool off and read while doing my laundry. The last time I retreated to the basement was over a year ago, a night early in September. Past midnight. Silent.
Gilmore has written an intimately unapologetic novel about the holes of selfishness and ideologies we find ourselves hunched in. His characters flaws, attributes and embarrassing urges are laid bare in a fashion that reminds us all that as humans we are complex and perplexing. Our motives a mixed bag in every circumstance.
There is no black and white to humanity. We are always in the midst of the gray.
I found this novel in many ways a comforting read. That’s not to say that its a fluff read because it couldn’t be further. It was like settling into anothers life. The characters are so deep and real that I felt like I had crawled into the brain of someone else’s body and became privy to their most private of thoughts and inadequacies.
Each character is portrayed without hesitancy.
There is a list of things I would like to applaud Gilmore for.
His portrayal of mental illness is spot on. I want to thank him for being especially unapologetic on this matter. As a populace, we can’t always look upon someones behavior as their intentional attempt to be obtuse. Often, they are damaged and suffering. Gilmore expertly gives the reader a view into this world that I think many really need.
Another thing I would like to applaud Gilmore for is his portrayal of a persons right to die. Mayflower’s mind is deteriorating rapidly. She doesn’t want to wither away and die in pain and confusion. She wants to die on her own terms and I love that Tobias respects and loves her enough to be there for her in her hour of darkness.
In A Howl for Mayflower, Gilmore reminds each of us that we are shaped by those close to us and we shape them in turn. This was a fabulous novel. Gilmore is an author I have now added to my list of absolute favorites.
The Technical Data:
Title: A Howl for Mayflower | Series: N/A | Author(s): Dan Gilmore |Publisher: Imago Press / Publication Date: 11-1-2006 |Pages: 220 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0972530385 | Genre(s): Literature & Fiction | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 | Date Read: 8-6-2016 |Source: Copy from author