The Groundhog Forever

Henry Hoke. WTAW, $16.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-73298-205-5
Hoke’s gratingly twee experimental latest (after Genevieves) imagines a twist on the film Groundhog Day, in which two protagonists negotiate their relationship after getting caught in a time loop. Thing 1 and Thing 2, as they call each other, are friends in a New York City film program in 2004. After Bill Murray visits their classroom for a screening of Groundhog Day, the Things get stuck repeating the same Tuesday over and over. “We’re in a relationship with today,” Thing 2 demurs, when asked by a classmate if he and Thing 1 are dating. Such is Hoke’s humor, which is simultaneously clever and smug. Within the liminal space, the Things manipulate a taxi and cyclist accident, and Thing 2 jumps off a roof to his death, which causes tension between himself and Thing 1. When Thing 1 recounts the “long bad day” that was 9/11, which occurred when she was a freshman, she remembers how she’d experienced it as if it were a movie. However, these observations don’t yield much insight, nor do the poems about groundhogs and God that pepper one chapter or the book’s alternate endings. This doesn’t add much to a well-worn conceit. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/12/2021
Genre: Fiction
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