Over There

Kyle Jarrard, Author
Kyle Jarrard, Author Baskerville Publishers $21 (283p) ISBN 978-1-880909-53-9
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A let-out-the-stops effort at serious metaphysical comedy in the manner of Beckett or Burroughs, Jarrard's first novel takes readers on a wild ride not just through time and space but through loopholes in language and meaning. Traveling from France to Texas to Mexico to Italy and back to France, this avant-garde tale traces the exploits of three generations of a family trying to reconcile their past, present and future. Taking a summer vacation to write a book about his grandfather Ansel's mysterious disappearance, young Marc Du conjures up the old man and a cast of derisive and mocking characters. As part of his literary search, Marc Du recreates his father's own search through Mexico for Ansel. Despite some deliciously weird and promising opening gambits, Jarrard fails to develop distinctive personalities and voices for his characters, unless one counts some questionable accents and dialects. Funny bits come from a speaking monkey, a surfing Nazi and the immense Sarah, who lives on an island in the Yucatan with her pet pig, but these folk don't stick around long enough to make a big difference. Jarrard has an exuberant imagination and a facility with language. Hopefully, he will apply them in his next work to a more rigorous story populated by more fleshed-out souls. (Jan.)
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