A Meaning for Wife

Mark Yakich, Author
Mark Yakich. IG (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-9354394-1-7
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Ebook - 200 pages - 978-1-935439-60-8
Ebook - 200 pages - 978-1-935439-42-4
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In his debut novel, poet Yakich (The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine) uses the second person to tell the story of a high school English teacher whose wife dies after ingesting a cashew, leaving him a single dad to his almost toddler son, Owen. Our unnamed narrator flies with Owen to his home town (Chicago) to spend a weekend with his parents (schizophrenic father, a bedroom reeking of cat urine, and refrigerators holding “moldy fruits” and “green meats”) and attend his 20th high school reunion. What starts off as a novel about grief and coping bogs down when the narrator meets up with his old high school friends. The scenes are filled with wistful remembrances of old crushes and small talk, and while the voice is delightfully strong and there is potential for comedy and drama, the shadow of the wife’s death kills the buzz. Yakich writes with a poetic economy and a matter-of-fact lyricism, and his masterful use of second person suggests that the narrator is witnessing his life from an outside perspective. But the book suffers from his inability to connect with other people and the reader has difficulty making an emotional connection to him. Brilliant in flashes and an auspicious first effort. (Nov.)
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