cover image The Bee-Loud Glade

The Bee-Loud Glade

Steve Himmer. Atticus (Itasca, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-9845105-8-0

As assistant to the director of Brand Awareness for a plastic plant company, Finch is a corporate drone, 10 years and counting. His job primarily consists of talking up company product on numerous weblogs and chat rooms via dozens of fake users he's created. When he's fired, he has no interest in other work, but has bills to pay, so he takes a billionaire named Crane up on his offer. The job: to sit in his garden, perform basic tasks, and above all, never speak; in short, to be a decorative hermit. For this service, Finch will be paid a staggering sum. Once on the job, Finch learns some valuable lessons about money, self-sufficiency, and even himself, but what he doesn't count on is how completely this job will change his attitude towards life, leading him down a path he never imagined. Himmer's debut novel evokes Chekhov, Thoreau, Fowles, and others but unfortunately without the resonance of those authors. His intentions are obvious: Finch is an everyman designed to be identified with by the modern cubicle-dweller; Crane represents the petulant prerogatives of the ultra-rich. The book doesn't ultimately attain what Himmer hopes it will, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. (Apr.)