My Coney Island Baby

Billy O’Callaghan. HarperCollins, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-285656-2
O’Callaghan’s stiff second novel (after The Dead House) maneuvers through the emotional and physical landscape of an afternoon tryst in a seedy Coney Island hotel room. Unlike within their confined, unfulfilling marriages, middle-aged lovers Michael and Caitlin are able to shed their inhibitions during monthly rendezvous in Coney Island. During one of these outings, they muse on their pasts, regrets, and fond memories. But as the day passes, both begin to wonder whether they will ever be fully together, as they’ve long planned; Michael’s wife is fighting kidney cancer and Caitlin’s husband’s career may require them to move away from New York. While the boardwalk setting “at the end of the world” before a large storm hits New York is vividly rendered, heightening the tension of what may be a final meeting, the thinness of the plot is frustrating, with Michael and Caitlin’s conversations coming across as rather maudlin. And while the story hinges on the assumed passion of their relationship, the two lovers are awkward and taciturn, and much of the dialogue is delivered in one-sided, long-winded monologues. O’Callaghan excels at painting a bleak portrait of physical and emotional isolation; unfortunately, the unsatisfying character development and weak plot fail to live up to the intriguing setup. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2019
Release date: 04/01/2019
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-78733-091-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-78733-134-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-289839-5
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-06-285658-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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