Outside In

Doug Cooper, Author
Doug Cooper. Greenleaf (Greenleaf, dist.), $18.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62634-004-6
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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A disillusioned young schoolteacher drops out of his profession to enjoy a summer fling while trying to find himself in Cooper’s over-familiar debut novel. Brad Shepherd, 28, has been teaching junior high school math for five years in St. Louis, Mo., when one of his students, overdosing on Oxycontin, collapses and dies in his classroom. Shep, embittered after the school administration pressures him to quietly resign, defies his controlling mother by deciding to spend the summer in the touristy Ohio village of Put-in-Bay, located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Through a bartender friend, Haley, he meets the colorful party boy Cinch Stevens, a bouncer at Haley’s bar, the Round House. Cinch gets Shep a job working alongside him, and also, as the local drug dealer, gets him involved with cocaine, initially as a user and eventually as a dealer. Few readers will be surprised by the feckless hero’s subsequent downward trajectory, or that he finds romance with beautiful graduate student Astrid and a mentor in worldly Caldwell, a mandolin player and reputed Vietnam vet. Cooper writes serviceable prose but seldom finds anything to set this particular story of one man’s path to maturity apart from countless other coming-of-age tales. (Aug.)
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