A Trout in the Sea of Cortez

John Salter, Author . Counterpoint $24 (287p) ISBN 978-1-58243-342-4

Dennis Pratt works part-time at a North Dakota toxic waste recycling plant; approaching 40, he has no friends and no career plan, but is a devoted father to daughter Whitney. His wife, Patricia, a successful real estate title closer, gets into shape, gets a tan and plans an anniversary trip for them to Mexico, where she expects her indolent and apathetic husband to play golf, swim and fish for marlin. Dennis complies by taking up golf, learning to swim and reading up on deep-sea fishing. But he suspects suddenly sexy Patricia is having an affair with Bruce Carver, the family dentist. As evidence compounds, Dennis falls into a depression. Encounters with a gypsylike father-and-daughter team who live in a camper near the local country club and with a beautiful widowed former therapist (with whom he begins to fall in love) complicate matters, but also spur Dennis to action. For the most part, Salter's debut breezes along with its likable but not entirely sympathetic hero bumbling through an ordinary life, but the book feels more like a set of short story–like set pieces rather than a whole work. A series of contrived revelations at the end spill out all at once, with head-shaking results for readers. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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