WASHED UP WITH A BROKEN HEART IN ROCK HALL

Peter Svenson, Author . Permanent $24 (160p) ISBN 978-1-57962-108-7

A newly divorced, sexually desperate older novelist does a passable imitation of a frustrated, randy teenager in Svenson's fiction debut, a poignant, funny series of vignettes that focus on the plight of 55-year-old Budge Moss, who moves from the New York metropolitan area to tiny Rock Hall on Chesapeake Bay to start over after his marriage and career as a novelist hit the skids. Moss makes the Rock Hall trip with his possessions and cat in tow, intent on resurrecting his writing and checking out the local singles scene. Svenson glosses over the progress of Moss's career, but he hits all the right emotional notes during the dating scenes when the writer makes a futile effort to connect with a nondescript, 50ish divorcée and makes a play for a comely young mother whose marriage is in trouble. Svenson plays the humor card effectively when Moss takes a brief stab at Internet dating, then befriends a 92-year-old Rock Hall widow and ends up making a drunken pass at her after a celebratory dinner. The novel as a whole is underplotted and episodic, and the myopic, self-absorbed Moss comes dangerously close to becoming an unsympathetic protagonist with his constant whining and bouts of self-pity. Still, Svenson produces an engaging, unflinching take on dating and sexuality for the over-50 set. (Dec.)

Correction: Due to publisher error, the ISBN for Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby (Forecasts, Nov. 15) was listed incorrectly. The correct ISBN is 1-58234-523-6.

Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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