cover image Vexation Lullaby

Vexation Lullaby

Justin Tussing. Catapult (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-936787-38-8

Tussing’s second novel, following The Best People in the World, is a clever, satisfying story about the struggle to find meaning in the lives we’ve made for ourselves. Jimmy Cross is an aging rock star accompanied on tour by Peter Silver, his new traveling physician; he’s followed by Arthur Pennyman, a fan who has been at every show for the past 20 years and blogs about it. Told from alternating perspectives, the story toggles between Peter’s reluctant submission to adventure, after being convinced to tour with the rock band, and Arthur’s pursuit of enlightenment through fandom, which ultimately becomes a metaphor for love. Arthur, who abandoned a suburban life as a husband and father after hearing Cross play for the first time, has structured his life around the singer’s touring schedule, while Peter struggles to move forward following a recent breakup and is now just going wherever the tour bus takes him. Both men have yet to discover their final destination. The novel weaves together the mystery of Peter’s connection to Cross, while offering surprising insights into the nature of identity, legacy, and what we owe to the people we love. Tussing uses startling and memorable details to punctuate scenes with a cinematic flourish, and he is particularly adept at using dialogue to reveal how much we actually aren’t saying to each other. And the ending is dazzling. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Apr.)