cover image Know Your Beholder

Know Your Beholder

Adam Rapp. Little, Brown, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-36891-9

Filmmaker and playwright Rapp’s (The Year of Endless Sorrows) chatty, absurdist take on loss and depression centers on a downtrodden thirty-something who has lost hope for just about everything. That thirty-something, musician Francis Falbo, has become a shut-in agoraphobic, snowbound throughout a winter season in his attic in rural Pollard, Ill., as he soothes his broken spirit from a trio of misfortunes: his mother has died, his wife left him for an “intergalactically fit” younger man, and the “anti-industry psychedelic semi-jam” rock group that kept him energized has disbanded. His drug dealer’s expanded selection of goodies pacifies him while the adventures of the assorted tenants who occupy his house’s spare rooms suffice for entertainment, and he obsesses about the cleanliness of his beard and his penis. High in the attic above everyone else, up at all hours either drunk or brooding about his lack of a life, Falbo presents his raw, strange narration through the paralysis of bad luck and unfortunate circumstance: a “Life in Default,” as he calls it. Written out in the form of an intimately journaled manuscript and infused with black humor and embittered angst, it would seem as if Rapp’s indelicate story could’ve been too sullen to enjoy, but Falbo’s darkly humorous agitation and unfiltered ruminations are just a few of the many reasons readers will find themselves enchanted. (Mar.)