cover image More Like Not Running Away

More Like Not Running Away

Paul Shepherd, . . Sarabande, $14.95 (248pp) ISBN 978-1-932511-28-4

Levi Revel's family moves to Michigan after the adolescent's father, Everest, gets drummed out of the army (but with an honorable discharge) for unspecified acts of violence that haunt the family. Everest has big plans to build a house; Levi is learning from him how to do it. But Everest's inability to understand his bank loan eventually leads to a financial disaster that forces the father to flee—after deliberately damaging the house. Everest lands in Florida, with the family following in his wake, and begins another disastrous project. Wife Nora then takes off, Everest places daughter Carson with her Michigan grandparents, and Levi becomes seriously troubled: he hears voices; he begins preaching. Levi's close but disturbing relationship with Everest forms the backbone of the novel, Shepherd's debut. By the harrowing final chapters, where Everest takes Levi on a cross-country drive to Seattle and tries to track down his wife, Shepherd has carefully worked over themes of running away and of perseverance (often, through Levi, in Christian terms). The narrative has some choppy moments, and mother and daughter remain vague as characters, but Sheperd's family-in-decline frames an impressive father-son character study. (Dec.)