Centuries of June

Keith Donohue, Crown, $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-45028-9
Face down on the bathroom floor after "a conk on the skull," Jack, the narrator of Donohue's unconventional latest (after Angels of Destruction), embarks on an epic and darkly funny journey through time and space without traveling much beyond his own bathroom. Visited by seven ghostly women, and eventually his wife, Jack stands in for disappointing men throughout history as each of the phantom visitors tells him her life story. From Dolly, the Tlingit woman who marries a shape-shifting bear, to Alice, who winds up on the wrong end of the Salem witch trials, and Bunny, a New York City housewife whose search for love goes very wrong, the women each accuse Jack, tell their story, and then fade into a chorus with the others. When Jack finally hears out his own wife, the reason for the night's events—including stopped clocks, talking cats, and what could be the ghost of Samuel Beckett—becomes clear. Donohue's faultless eye for character and keen sense of humor keeps what could easily become a muddled mess pristine, with members of his quorum shining individually but also acting as cogs in the larger story's machinery. There are moments when the reader is left to wonder how things can possibly come together, but it's worthwhile to trust Donohue's narrators as they lead this puzzling and greatly satisfying trip. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/14/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-0-307-45029-6
Hardcover - 207 pages - 978-0-307-45030-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-93264-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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